Information for staff

In the first year, each student will undertake two projects lasting four months each (January-April, May-August), and it is expected that one of these will become their PhD project and will be continued for the remaining three years. This website provides information for members of academic staff who would like to offer 1st year projects for the students on the Neural Dynamics programme.

Criteria of project suitability

Members of academic staff are welcome to propose four month projects that satisfy the following criteria.

  1. The project must concern research relating to the dynamics of activity of the nervous system.
  2. The research question must be addressed by substantial lab-based experiments (involving molecular, cellular and/or systems level approaches, including human studies) and also theory (e.g. mathematical modelling, simulation, robotic implementation, or advanced data analysis which goes beyond statistical approaches typically used in the analysis of experimental data).
  3. The project must be co-supervised by at least two advisors, one working on experimental or clinical neuroscience, the other with mathematical or computational expertise.
  4. Under normal circumstances, the advisors should be affiliated with the University of Bristol.

Application procedure

The proposed advisors of a project should jointly provide a brief project description by filling in a form that can be downloaded from

Neural Dynamics project proposal form (Office document, 14kB)


Neural Dynamics project proposal form (plain text template)

The form should be e-mailed to Elaine Sparey ( and cc'd to Conor Houghton ( by  1 October at the latest. The Programme Committee will review the proposals, including an assessment of suitability, training potential and feasibility, before making a final decision on which projects will be included in the programme.

Finding a collaborator

If you are a experimental neuroscientist with an interesting project and no computational co-supervisor, or visa versa, please e-mail Conor Houghton (

Allocation procedure

By the end of November the Students will need to submit their choice of four mini-projects and their ranking. On this basis the Programme Committee will allocate each student to two projects (see next paragraph for details). Throughout late October and early November, the students will meet with the potential co-supervisors;. During this meeting, could you please explain the project and arrange for the students to see the experimental techniques involved (e.g. to spent a day with a Postdoc or PhD Student conducting the experiments). There will also be an opportunity to present your project during the Neural Dynamics Forum. The student will need to prepare a 2-page report on each chosen miniproject including review of key papers related to the topic. So could you please suggest key papers to the students during your meeting.

To ensure the diversity of research of the Neural Dynamics students, it will be arranged that each year each neuroscientist co-advises at most 1 mini-project, and each theoretician at most two mini-projects. However, to increase students' choice, academics can propose more projects: each neuroscientist can propose up to two projects, and each theoretician up to three projects. An experimental or clinical supervisor can have at most two Neural Dynamics students doing PhD projects, as opposed to rotations, at one time, a computational or mathematical supervisor can have at most four Neural Dynamics students doing PhD projects at any one time. 

Funding for research during mini-projects

There is funding available to cover the expenses connected with conducting experiments during each rotation project. To claim the money you will need a spending code which will be e-mailed to you at the start of the project.

Write-up at the end of the project

By the end of the each mini-project, the students are expected to submit to co-advisors a report on their work. Reports should have approximately 15 pages, including figures, written in Arial, font 11, and 1.5 line spacing. After you receive the reports and read them, could you please meet with the students and give them feedback on their reports. Also please prepare a brief report (jointly by the two advisors, upto 700 words) describing what the student achieved, which will be submitted to the Welcome Trust. Please e-mail the report within 14 days from the end of the project to Elaine Sparey.

Expections on supervisors and students

A document describing the supervisorial culture we hope to promote is available at Expectations (PDF, 52kB)

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