Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

PhD Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

Overview

The details
Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology
October 2022
Full-time
5 years
Colchester Campus
Psychology

An Integrated PhD provides a route into research study if you do not have a Masters degree, or have very little research training. It enables you to spend your first year completing a full-time Masters-level qualification, followed by a full-time PhD studied over 3-4 years or a part-time PhD studied over 6-7 years. We also offer a ‘standard’ PhD in this subject which can be studied either full-time (3-4 years) or part-time (6-7 years).

Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It is a branch of both psychology and neuroscience, overlapping with disciplines such as biological psychology, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. Cognitive neuropsychology uses data from single cases of individuals with brain injury or neurological illness to refine theoretical models of cognitive processing.

In your first year on our Integrated PhD Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology, you will study both cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology which will give you a thorough grounding in the scientific investigation of the neural mechanisms underlying human behaviour and the effects of brain injury on cognitive function. You will be taught the theoretical and biological foundations of cognitive science, and undertake advanced training in statistics and neuropsychological research methods. Your first year gives you advanced research training which provides you with an excellent preparation to start the PhD element of this course.

In your second year you move into the PhD element of the course where research supervision is available in the fields of cognitive psychology, sensory and cognitive neuroscience, and social psychology. You study in a stimulating and vibrant research environment, and we provide excellent research facilities. In general, our PhD students enjoy the same access to neuroscience and other research equipment as our academic staff, and access to our research participant pool, which is essential for your experimental research. You also benefit from the supportive supervision given by our staff, and the friendly and collegiate atmosphere provided by fellow students. This ensures that we have an exemplary record in supporting our PhD students to produce a high quality thesis.

Our University is one of just 21 ESRC Doctoral Training Centres, enabling us to offer studentships to psychology students intending to pursue a research degree. We are supported by some of the most prestigious funding bodies, including the European Commission and the Leverhulme Trust.

Why we're great.
  • We are ranked 25th in the UK for research quality (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019).
  • We provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology, with our Hearing Research Laboratory and our Visual Perception Unit.
  • We also have our Centre for Brain Sciences (CBS), a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource for psychology and neuroscience, with specialised laboratories for investigating brain activity.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Our academic staff include award-winning teachers and prize-winning researchers who are international experts in their own research areas.

The Cognitive and Developmental Psychology Group are researching attention, language, decision-making, and memory. Recent projects have investigated the psychology of energy reduction, the enhancement of human memory through technology, and improvements in the usability and design of transport maps.

The Cognitive and Sensory Neuroscience Group research brain function and human behaviour. Recently they have been working on projects on the neural processes underlying language production, how motivations are communicated through tone of voice, and how the brain performs 3D vision. They previously developed the BioAid mobile phone app that turns an iPhone into a biologically inspired hearing aid.

Our department is expanding, and has recently appointed a number of excellent researchers whose expertise increases the diversity and depth of our skills base.

After your first year, when you start your PhD, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.

The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.

Twice a year, you will have a supervisory panel meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.

Specialist facilities

We are committed to giving you the best access to state-of-the-art facilities in higher education, housed entirely within our purpose-built psychology building on our Colchester Campus.

We provide excellent state-of-the-art facilities for your study, with extensive laboratory space for experimental psychology and special facilities for visual and auditory perception, developmental psychology and social psychology.

We also have our Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to the study of brain activity in relation to psychological processes. This provides a dynamic resource with specialised laboratories for investigating behaviour and brain activity including: two eye tracking labs for recording eye movements, four electroencephalography (EEG) labs for recording cortical oscillatory activity, event-related potentials (ERP) and functional connectivity; two near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) labs for measuring changes in blood oxygenation levels; four neuromodulation labs including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), repetitive TMS (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and neuro-navigation facilities.

Your future

With the skills and knowledge you acquire from studying within our Department of Psychology, you will find yourself in demand from a wide range of employers.

Our graduates have been employed in clinical psychology, educational psychology, criminal and forensic psychology.

We also have excellent links with the research community; we are recognised by the ESRC as providing excellent postgraduate training and are an accredited Doctoral Training Centre, offering several studentships.

Our recent PhD students have taken up post-doctoral positions in other top UK universities and international universities (in the US, Italy and Australia), as well as being appointed to lectureships.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in any subject.

Our four year integrated PhD, allows you to spend your first year studying at Masters level in order to develop the necessary knowledge and skills and to start your independent research in year two.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 7.0, or equivalent, with a minimum score of 5.5 in all other components.

Structure

Course structure

Most of our taught courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

The research element of your degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Research Project (MSc)
(60 CREDITS)

In this module you complete a research dissertation with a maximum of 10,000 words, written up as a report. You have a lot of flexibility as there are a wide variety of topics that you can choose to research. You report on the results of an original psychological research study carried out under the supervision of a staff member. A good research report will look like a psychology study reported in a peer-reviewed journal (such as Cognitive Neuropsychology, or Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology).

View Research Project (MSc) on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Neurocognition of Human Interaction
(15 CREDITS)

Gain an in-depth introduction to the major topics in neurocognition of language. By critically analysing a range of research and methodologies used to study brain processes, you will acquire an advanced understanding of the brain bases of language, and of the neurocognitive processes that underlie human communication.

View Neurocognition of Human Interaction on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Fundamental Statistics for Research
(15 CREDITS)

This module provides you with a detailed overview of the most common statistical tests used by postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in psychology.

View Fundamental Statistics for Research on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Numerical Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience
(15 CREDITS)

Research in cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neuropsychology employs a diverse range of analytical tools and procedures. This module provides specialist Masters students with the training necessary to critically evaluate the analyses presented in published research. Additionally, you will be trained to apply numerical techniques to neuropsychological and psychophysiological data and to interpret the output of popular analysis software.

View Numerical Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Theory and Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology
(30 CREDITS)

This module covers the main research areas and methods used in investigating the workings of the brain. The module will provide you with a solid background in brain structure and function both at the cellular level and the systems level. It will consider neuroscience as it relates to behaviour by asking how mental processes such as perception, attention, movement, emotion, higher cognitive functions and sexual orientation are implemented within the brain and body. This module also seeks to familiarise you with most of the present-day methods used in cognitive neuroscience and to provide practical experience of some of these methodologies: EEG, ERPs, TMS, tDCS, eye-tracking, pupilometry, NIRS and other psychophysiological measures (skin conductance, heart rate, respiration rate, plethysmography etc) and their combination.

View Theory and Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(45 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Psychology - Research
(0 CREDITS)

This module is for PhD students who are completing the research portions of their theses.

View Psychology - Research on our Module Directory

Teaching

our modules are taught through lectures, laboratory practicals, seminars, independent reading and research projects and we host a very active programme of research seminars.

Assessment

Full-year modules are most often examined using a three-hour examination, and half-year modules by a combination of two-hour examination and coursework (e.g., essays, oral presentations).

The award of a PhD signifies an original and substantial contribution to knowledge that means you can be considered an expert in your field. The majority of your learning during the PhD element of this course comes from ‘hands on’ experience of designing, conducting and analysing your original research, as well as from the demanding process of writing and submitting a PhD. To help in this process, you attend several taught courses in the first year of the PhD element of this course and all our research students are required to undertake postgraduate research training modules as part of their studies.

At the end of your first and second years of the PhD element of this course you will prepare a 10,000 word document that contains a review of relevant literature and summarises findings from your empirical work conducted in that year. You will also take part in a Postgraduate Research conference in which you make an oral presentation of this work to the Department of Psychology. The submission of the 10,000 word document in particular helps you prepare for the writing of your thesis.

Dissertation

Students within our Department of Psychology submit a dissertation of up to 80,000 words for their PhD. We take pride in our completion record with our PhD students. We achieve this, in part, by ensuring from the outset that you follow a clear path to ensure completion across the three years of the PhD element of this course – with specific appropriate milestones at the end of your first and second years.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£5,630

International fee

£19,740

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, November 13, 2021

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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