Sussex Neuroscience

Course structure

After graduation, some students considering research will have definite ideas about the question that they would like to work on and the lab in which to do it, and so will apply for the traditional 3-year PhD. Many students who enjoy research will have more general interests, and feel that they need more experience before they chose their specific project. The 4-Year Programme provides these students with further training in different techniques and laboratory environments, allowing them to make this choice with the benefit of a broader background in different areas of Neuroscience.

Year 1: broadening experience

The first year comprises lab rotations, taught components and researcher development training, which run concurrently throughout the year.

1. Laboratory rotations: A key feature of the 4-Year PhD Programme is that you will have the opportunity to complete three 12-week laboratory rotations, chosen from the list of over 40 supervisors and suggested projects. The aims of these rotations are: 1) to gain some experience of working in these particular labs, helping you to make a more informed decision about which lab to choose for your PhD; 2) to learn essential techniques and conduct independent research towards a potential PhD and publications; 3) to broaden your experience of different approaches in neuroscience. Successful completion of written and oral assessments, which follow each rotation, is necessary to demonstrate your aptitude for the particular research environment, and to enable your progression to Year 2 of the Programme. 

2. Taught components: Students take a selection of four taught modules in different specialized topics at an advanced level throughout Year 1. The choice of these modules will be tailored to suit each student's background and interests. These taught components will give you the opportunity to broaden and deepen your knowledge of chosen subjects, and to transition successfully from your undergraduate studies towards your particular Neuroscience PhD field of interest. Taught classes typically total 3-4 hours per week and assessment is by coursework only; a successful performance will be required to progress into Year 2 of the Programme.

3. Researcher Development: Sussex Neuroscience is fully committed to professional development of its researchers at every level. Students on the Programme attend the weekly Sussex Neuroscience Seminar Series, and will take responsibility for hosting a speaker; you will also be included in lab meetings and journal clubs associated with your rotations. All postgraduate students attend Researcher Development workshops to receive training in different key skills such as academic writing papers and delivering presentations; these are run by the Doctoral School in line with the national Vitae Researcher Development Framework. 

Years 2-4: the PhD

At the end of the first year, you will choose one lab, or two collaborating labs, for your PhD research. During the PhD, you will be encouraged to attend advanced training courses in the USA and Europe, as well as continued Researcher Development training and research group activities.


Throughout the four years, each student's progress will be monitored and assessed by a committee of Sussex Neuroscience faculty responsible for organizing the Programme, with advice and support available at all times. You will be integrated into Sussex Neuroscience by participation in regular academic and social events. Career advice will be given in the last year to prepare you for your post-doctoral period.

The Programme Management Committee

The committee comprises Ruth Staras (Life Sciences), Miguel Maravall (Life Sciences), Louise Serpell (Life Sciences), Jamie Ward (Psychology), Luc Berthouze (Informatics) and Sarah Garfinkel (BSMS).