Behavioural Neuroscience (MPhil/PhD)


Fact file

PhD/MPhil Behavioural Neuroscience
Three to four years full-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in a related subject relevant to the chosen research area.
6.5 (6.0) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Please contact the school for details
University Park
Other requirements

Research overview

The Behavioural Neuroscience group investigates the fundamental learning and memory processes that form the fabric of our mental life. Behavioural, psychopharmacological, neuroanatomical and genetic approaches are used to understand the mechanics of learning and its underlying biology. We also examine higher order processes, such as the dependence of learned associations on context. This understanding of learning is also applied to the clinical study of diseases in which associative processes are disordered. For example, in schizophrenia, we find that learning occurs inappropriately about stimuli that would normally be treated as irrelevant, redundant or in some other way indistinct. In applied studies, we find evidence that bio-associative mechanisms may contribute to increased symptom reporting in clinical (eg Gulf War veterans) and non-clinical samples (eg people feeling ill at work).



There are excellent lab facilities and equipment available for research, supported by well-staffed mechanical and electrical workshops and by other technical and administrative services. There are dedicated experimental labs for research in neuroscience, fitted with ERP and TMS facilities. There is also an fMRI laboratory on campus. There are dedicated laboratories for human communication, human-computer interaction, social interaction, child development.

There is an extensive library of test materials, and a wide range of monitoring equipment including video apparatus for the recording and analysis of behaviour, and eye-tracking equipment. There is an observation studio with a one-way mirror and an anechoic chamber. The school has laboratories for work in physiological, psychophysical and computational investigation of the visual system and animal behaviour, through the physiological laboratories located in the University Biomedical Services unit, five minutes walk away in the Queen's Medical Centre.

The school maintains a local area network (LAN) of Apple Macs and Windows-based PCs, which provide access to file servers, laser printers, the campus wide University computing network and the internet. The software available includes programming languages, several expert system shells, and statistical packages, MS Office and desktop publishing. Microcomputers are used for controlling experiments and recording subjects' responses. The George Green Science Library is five minutes walk away, and has excellent holdings in psychology books and journals. It also provides access to bibliographic search systems such as Psyc-Lit, WoS, SSCI, MEDLINE, EMBASE and ERIC.


Research support

The School of Psychology at the University offers an ideal academic environment for pursuing a higher degree by research, either full-time or part-time. Postgraduate students undertake a study, with two members of the academic staff as supervisors (one primary supervisor and one secondary supervisor), in a specified area of psychology. All students are registered for an MPhil for the first year of study, unless they already hold a master’s degree in an approved discipline. Those students who wish to continue onto the PhD programme are required to show satisfactory completion of the course requirements for the first year. The school follows the University guidelines on supervision, so that you will have a minimum of 10 recorded meetings with your supervisor each year (6 for part-time). The full details of the procedures for progression will be given on entry to the programme. All full-time students registered for a PhD are expected to submit a written thesis for examination within three years of starting their research.

Although the MPhil and PhD degrees are assessed mainly by research (in the form of a written thesis and viva voce examination), progression also involves satisfactory completion of taught courses. The first year will require attendance at research training modules, both within the school and through the Graduate School. This formal training element is designed not only to provide students with the necessary skills in research, but also to equip them with transferable skills in writing, oral presentation and the use of information technology. The formal training element can be tailored to the needs of individual students.

There are currently about 50 students registered for research degrees, and we expect to see further expansion. To promote the research atmosphere there is a weekly Psychology Research Seminar series, plus regular talks by outside speakers arranged by research groups. Early in the academic year there is a postgraduate fair where all continuing students offer oral presentations of their work. Postgraduate students are members of the Student-Staff Consultative Committee and may attend the unreserved part of school meetings. Within the school, the Research Seminars include a social element, and there are school football and cricket teams. The University also has an active Postgraduate Association, which organises social and sporting activities. 

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Students' Union is a particularly important source of support.


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors at the University can be found on our research A to Z.


UK/EU Students

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding. For prospective students the University has introduced a new funding database . The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of fundingStudentship opportunities are also available. 

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government plans to introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes from 2018. Applicants must ordinarily live in England and more details are expected to be announced in due course.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the school page for additional opportunities.


Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 93% of postgraduates in the School of Psychology who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,901 with the highest being £42,000.* 

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research.


Related courses

No related courses

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Postgraduate Administrator School of Psychology
University of Nottingham University Park
NG7 2RD 

Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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