Information for first year students
This page provides information particularly relevant to first year Neural Dynamics students; it is updated at the start of each academic year so the details below relate to 2018-19.
A document describing the supervisor and student relationship and the research culture we hope to encourage can be found at Expectations (PDF, 52kB)
During the first year, you will gain necessary background knowledge by attending taught units and doing a computational mini-project. You will carry out two extended research projects (which you will choose from a list of available projects), each investigating dynamics in a different neural system. Subsequently, you will develop one of these projects into a PhD project lasting the remaining three years.
Table below shows overview of your activities in the first year, with dates for the academic year 2018-19, and each of them is described in detail below.
|0||18 - 22 Sep||Introductory week|
|1 - 4||25 Sep - 20 Oct||Foundations of Neuroscience|
|10 - 11||27 Nov - 8 Dec||Mathematical Modelling in Physiology and Medicine|
|23 - 26 Oct||
Home Office Training Course
Home Office Exams
|Oct / Nov||Visits to labs offering projects|
|Oct - Dec||Computational mini-projects|
|13-25||22 Jan - 4 May||Computational Neuroscience|
|Jan - Apr||Project 1|
|May - Aug||Project 2|
|Sep||Preparing PhD proposal|
We look forward to welcome you in September. Below is the schedule for the first week; some events are organized by the faculty and the details will be given to you directly, some are specific to the programme.
|18 September||All day||Faculty event||Registation / Induction|
|19 September||9:30-11:30||Medical School, D1/3||Welcome and Health and Safety talk|
|21 September||12-1||Room G1, 65 St Michael's Hill||Meeting with Programme Directors|
|21 September||1-2||Room G1, 65 St Michael's Hill||Meet current Neural Dynamics Students|
|21 September||4-5||Merchant Venturers Building 3rd Floor Common Room||
Panel discussion and social event
We will also organize individual meetings with you all early in the week after Introductary Week. There will be a social event and an academic event with the new student early in the term.
During the first year you will attend three modules providing background knowledge related to your research listed below. Dates during which the modules takes place are listed in the table above, while the details of times and venues of lectures are given below. The map of the campus with names of various buildings is available here.
- Foundations of Neuroscience
Detailed syllabus and schedule is available: 2016-17 Foundations Timetable (PDF, 51kB) along with a reading list 2017-18 Foundations Reading List (Office document, 77kB).
- Mathematical Modelling in Physiology and Medicine
Description of the module is available here. The timetable and location will be available nearer the time.
- Home Office Training Course
This course provides information on procedures and laws regarding animal experimentation. It finished with exam for the Home Office license allowing you to conduct experiments involving animals. Detailed timetable will be e-mailed to you later.
- Computational Neuroscience
Description of the module is available here. A time table will be announced later.
University of Bristol runs many taught courses related to neural dynamics or neuroscience in general. You are most welcome to attend lectures on units related to your interests and project during your entire PhD. We would like you to take at least one such optional unit in your first year. A list of units and modules is found at
To attend such a unit, you do not need to register, but you just turn up to the lectures. However, it would be nice to introduce yourself to the lecturer during the first lecture, and ask if it is OK for you to attend (I cannot imagine someone refusing).
Below the list of the optional units is given, and you can get description of each unit by clicking on unit name. Timetables for individual units can be found here. The only exception are the modules with * in the table below. The timetables of these units only become available two weeks before the unit, and to find out about them you need to e-mail Astrid Linthorst: email@example.com.
- Brain and Behaviour
- Neurological and Psychiatric disorders
- Neuroscience of Pain
- Sensational Neuroscience
- Synaptic plasticity
- Pharmacology of the Nervous System
- Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
- Gene Expression in the brain*
- Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, Molecular Mechanisms and Therapies*
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Summer School
- Theoretical Neuropsychology
Visits to labs offering projects
At the start of November, the list of possible projects will be made available. Each project will be co-advised by an experimental or clinical neuroscientist and a mathematician or computer scientist. You will need to choose six projects and rank them by the end of November, you should rank them with a resolution of two, so there should be three draws in your assessment of your interest level. Therefore in November, you need to arrange meetings with at least six pairs of advisors, preferably more, offering a project, find out details of the project, read relevant papers, and make an informed decision about your choice. Out of your six choices, two projects will be selected by the Management Committee taking in consideration: your preferences, preferences of your colleagues: no two students can do the same project. Furthermore, to give you a broader knowledge of neuroscience, the two projects should not focus on the same neural system / techniques.
To help your research on the topic of the projects, for each of your five chosen projects, could you please fill the form Lab visit report (Office document, 19kB) or Lab visit report (Office document, 36kB) and the submit the completed forms to Elaine Sparey (Elaine.Sparey@bristol.ac.uk) cc'ing Conor Houghton (firstname.lastname@example.org) by the 25 November.
You will undertake two research projects lasting four months each. By the end of each project you will need to prepare a report summarizing your approach and results which will be assessed by project’s supervisors. Reports should have approximately 15 pages, including figures, written in Arial, font 11, and 1.5 line spacing. By the end of April and by the end of August could you please e-mail your reports to project's supervisors and to Elaine Sparey (Elaine.Sparey@bristol.ac.uk).
Students will need to complete the Four-year PhD Student in Basic Science form through the Wellcome Trust grant application submission system, Grant Tracker. All Wellcome funded students on the programme already have a Portal account which was used to complete a form prior to starting their rotation year. Students should log into theiraccounts using the email address and password they set up last year. If any CV or contact information within your account is no longer correct, please update your record once you have logged in.
When logged into Grant Tracker, the form will be available by going to ‘apply for funding’ then the ‘Biomedical science research’ tab. The form is called: ‘Four-year PhD Studentship in Basic Science’. Hitting ‘apply’ will open a new form.
Forms must be submitted by the end of September.
We have an informal wiki page for other information at: https://wikis.bris.ac.uk/