Sussex Neuroscience


We are now accepting applications for September 2020 entry. The application deadline is midnight on Monday 6th January 2020.

Please read the information below carefully, and follow the detailed instructions on how to apply. 

Candidates shortlisted for interview will be notified by email by January 17th 2020. Interviews will be held in late January.

Sussex Neuroscience 4-year PhD Programme Application Guidelines

(1) Eligibility

You are eligible to apply to this Programme if you have, or are predicted, a 1st class or upper 2nd class BSc degree (or oversees equivalent) in a biological, psychological or physical science discipline. Your exam marks should be at least within the top 20% of your peer group (as an approximate guideline) for your application to be competitive.

(2) Funding

Up to four funded places will be awarded for September 2020 entry, on a full-time basis. The Programme provides UK/EU students with a stipend at the UK Research Council equivalent rate (currently 14,777 GBP per year), and UK/EU students will not pay any fees. EU fee status will be unchanged for students entering in Sept 2020, and for the duration of their studies. Please see the University's Brexit page for more information, and contact the University for further advice if needed.

We also welcome applications from non-EU students; we are able to contribute top-up funds for exceptional non-EU applicants who are able to secure partial external funding. Students of all nationalities must follow the application procedure as outlined below.

(3) How to apply

3.1 Please note that applications will not be considered by email; you must follow the instructions below and apply through the University of Sussex online admissions system, PGApply, before the Programme deadline on January 6th 2020. During this period, you may apply by going to PGApply, registering, and clicking on the "Search" button. Then select the Research Degrees category and search for Neuroscience, making sure that you have selected "September 2020" as the Point of Entry. Then select "Sussex Neuroscience 4-Year PhD Programme" and click the "Apply" button. You can return to your application as many times as you like before it is submitted; next time you log in the application will appear under the "My Applications" tab.

Please note that if you have applied to a postgraduate course at Sussex before, you cannot edit your previous application. You will need to create a new account (using a different email address, or the same email address typed in capitals) and enter a new application. 

If you have any technical difficulties in accessing the PGApply system, please contact Ruth Staras in the first instance:

3.2 Enter the required information (including academic qualifications, grades etc.) in sections using the checklist provided. This standardised system ensures that all the information we need is gathered; you must complete the checklist in order for the application to be processed. Note that you will not be asked to submit a CV, but may do so if you wish in the "Supporting Documents" section.

3.3 In the “Academic Interests” section of the checklist, upload a personal statement of up to 1000 words entitled “Why I want to pursue PhD research in neuroscience”. You should refer to your research interests in this statement, but it is not appropriate to give a full PhD proposal at this stage. Please also list three supervisors who you think you may be interested in working with (note that this is not a formal choice at this stage). Supervisors and example projects are listed here At the end of your statement, please briefly indicate where you heard about the Programme, for our administrative purposes - thank you.

3.4 In the "Supporting Documents" section of the checklist, please supply us with a transcript showing your individual BSc module grades (and MSc if applicable). If you have not yet completed the degree, an interim transcript or screenshot of your course grades to date is sufficient at this stage.

3.5 Arrange for references. You need to provide the names and professional email addresses of at least two academic referees; these should normally be faculty members at your higher education institution who know you sufficiently well to comment on your academic ability and suitability for PhD research. When you add a referee to your application, you must click "Send request" and PGApply will automatically email your referee immediately. Referees will be asked to download our standardised Reference Form, and to submit the completed form to PGApply, as instructed in the request email. Please do not upload references yourself.

Note i): In the “Academic interests” section, please do not provide a research proposal; instead enter your personal statement (see 3.3 above). Please also note that it is not possible to study on this Programme part-time, via Distance Learning, or as a Visiting Student.

Note ii): In the “Education and qualifications” section, please enter details of your BSc degree (and Masters degree if applicable) and your A-Level subjects and grades obtained (or their oversees equivalent). Submit the BSc information first; when you hit Save, the form will clear and enable you to add the next set of qualifications as a new entry. The system does not currently have a designated A level box; we suggest that to enter A level grades, you select "non-UK Qualification" as Qualification type, creating boxes into which you can type your high school, subjects and grades.

Note iii): In the “Relevant experience” section, please include any laboratory experience you have received (i.e. paid employment, voluntary placements, and projects completed during your course of study).

Note iv): In the "Finance Information" section, select “I have/ will be applying for funding” from the drop-down menu.This causes three more boxes to appear; the exact wording you use here is not critical, but you need to complete these e.g. for "Title of award" please enter "Sussex Neuroscience 4-year PhD Programme". For "When will you receive a decision.." please enter "February 2020"; for "Amount of award" please enter "£15k".

Note v): Please add your referee details to your online application as soon as possible. As soon as you have done this, we will then contact your referees to give them the maximum time to send your reference, even before you have completed the rest of your application. It is then your responsibility to check that your referees submit their references before the application deadline of January 6th 2020. If references are sent after the application deadline we cannot guarantee that your application will be processed.

Application deadline: January 6th 2020

Good luck!


1. I am an international student - what fees do I need to pay?

International students will be required to pay the overseas fee for PhD students, currently 20,700 GBP per year, for example using an additional scholarship. We will be able to contribute some top-up funds towards this amount for exceptional candidates who are successful at interview. For accurate figures on the 2020/21 fee rate please check here:

Please note: we cannot offer a place on the Programme to any student who is not successful at our interview, regardless of any external funding obtained. If you wish to discuss this further please contact us.

2. I already have/ I am currently completing an MSc degree in Neuroscience - do I need to do the first year of the Programme?

Yes. The first year of the Programme is designed to be a pre-PhD year, not an MSc year. You will have a broad choice of rotations, training and taught modules that prepare you for moving towards your chosen PhD; repetition of previous learning will be actively avoided. If you feel that you already have the expertise, training and specific research focus required to begin a PhD directly, please consider applying for a standard PhD. It is not possible to join this Programme in Year 2.

3. I do not have a Masters degree/ I will not complete my Masters degree before the application deadline in January 2020. Can I still apply?

Yes. A Bachelor's level qualification, as described above, is sufficient to be eligible to apply. Please give us details of any Masters level course you are currently studying in the "additional details" section of your online application.

4. I have already sent you my CV/application by email; is my application to the Programme being considered?

No. All applications to the 4-Year Programme must be completed through PGApply before January 6th 2020. If you have already attempted to apply directly by email before PGApply was open for applications, you should have received a reply directing you to these instructions; please follow these carefully to submit your application.

5. I will not be able to travel to the UK in late January 2020 for interviews. Can I still apply?

If you are seriously considering our Programme, we encourage you to submit an application as soon as possible, and then send us an email indicating any unavoidable travel difficulties. If you are shortlisted, we will contact you to discuss this further.

6. English is not my first language and I will not have IELTS results before January 6th - can I still apply?

Yes. We will still consider your application, and may subsequently ask you to take the IELTS test, as appropriate.

7. Can I apply for more than one postgraduate course at Sussex at the same time?

As competition for the 4-year Programme is high, we encourage you to also apply for other direct PhD opportunities that interest you.

8. Do I need to submit a Research Proposal with my application to the 4-year PhD Programme?

No. We require a personal statement entitled "Why I want to pursue a PhD in neuroscience" but not a research proposal.