Neural Dynamics (Wellcome Trust)

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Run by Faculty of Life Sciences Faculty of Engineering Faculty of Health Sciences
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Start date September 2020

Programme overview

Neural dynamics is the study of the nervous system's remarkable capacity to change and, at a systems level, the dynamic interplay between integration and segregation of brain regions that enables all aspects of behaviour, including learning, memory, homeostasis and sensorimotor control.

The Wellcome Trust PhD programme is different to a traditional PhD route, in that it provides you with a year of taught units and two extensive research projects before you embark on your primary research focus. This innovative structure presents an opportunity to explore several areas of neural dynamics research, giving you a broad understanding of the foundations underpinning your core interests. This means that you will be able to make a fully informed decision about the major research focus of the remaining three years of your PhD.

Bristol is a fantastic place to live, with a lively neuroscience student community that creates and is involved in several groups and activities.

Fees for 2020/21

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2020/21

This programme is fully funded by the Wellcome Trust. The trust provides funding to cover PhD programme fees at UK/EU student rate, research expenses, a stipend for living expenses, contribution towards travel and a contribution towards transferable-skills training. Applications are welcomed from international students and the University has agreed in some circumstances to waive the international fees.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

First-year training

Your first year comprises taught units and related seminars, along with two research projects that last four months each, with a student conference concluding the year.

The taught units are:

  • Foundations in Neuroscience
  • Mathematical Modelling
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • One optional unit

Through these units you will be equipped with the necessary understanding and skills to fully engage with the major research focus of your PhD, regardless of your academic background. A precise training plan will be drawn up for you by the programme directors and yourself, taking into account your background and interests.

Second to fourth years

From the second year, one of the two research projects you completed in your first year will be developed into your full PhD project, co-supervised by at least one experimentalist and one theoretician.

Entry requirements

A first or upper second-class honours degree or master's degree in a biomedical or life science discipline. Other closely related disciplines can be considered (eg mathematics, computer science or physics). You should also have some background in mathematics or computer science, (eg A-levels or application of mathematical modelling/computational methods in undergraduate research).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile B
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

Bristol has a large concentration of neuroscientists and is a major centre for basic and clinical neuroscience. We specialise in many key areas of neural dynamics research, from both an experimental and theoretical perspective, spanning molecular, cellular and systems levels of neuroscience. Together with experts in systems dynamics, based in the Department of Engineering Mathematics, the Department of Computer Science, the School of Mathematics and the Bristol Robotics Lab, we can provide considerable scope for ground-breaking, integrative research projects.


Researchers with a background in both experimental/clinical neuroscience and computation are rare and much sought-after in academic research and in industrial research in neuropharmacology and medical engineering.

How to apply
Application deadline:

1 September 2020

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience:
  • 43% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 37% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 18% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

Faculty Education Team Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 1534 Email:

65 St Michael's Hill


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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