Seeking advice for Neuroscience programs

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User02251528
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I'm a final year BSc Neurobiology student and I've been offered places on these courses: MSc Neuroscience at KCL and MScR Integrated Neuroscience at Edinburgh.

Does anyone here have experience of studying on any of these courses? I'm having a hard time choosing between them. My ultimate aim would be to apply for PhD after completing my masters.

Thanks a lot.
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Neuro1998
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(Original post by User02251528)
I'm a final year BSc Neurobiology student and I've been offered places on these courses: MSc Neuroscience at KCL and MScR Integrated Neuroscience at Edinburgh.

Does anyone here have experience of studying on any of these courses? I'm having a hard time choosing between them. My ultimate aim would be to apply for PhD after completing my masters.

Thanks a lot.
That is certainly a difficult decision - I have a deferred acceptance from last year for Imperial College London's MSc Translational Neuroscience so I can't speak from personal experience with these two universities.

However, if you have done a BSc in Neurobiology I would say to look carefully at the MSc Neuroscience course modules at KCL and see if they would benefit you further - have you covered the topics that they are offering?

If you feel you have sufficient knowledge in neuroscience then an MSc may be seldom useful to your progression. In that case, the MScR would be the better option as it will have more research and laboratory exposure which would be very useful for a PhD.

For me, my undergraduate was Medical Science and we did a 4 lecture crash course on neuroscience in 2nd year and never covered it again - so a taught-based MSc for me is fantastic to get the fundamentals and some advanced knowledge of neuroscience alongside the shorter research project.

Both universities are reputable - I would think carefully about the costs associated with living in London compared to Edinburgh though, I'm struggling with that aspect currently.

Both courses would be excellent for continuing onto a PhD so just choose whichever would suit you most, and what you'd enjoy the most.
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QuentinM
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(Original post by User02251528)
I'm a final year BSc Neurobiology student and I've been offered places on these courses: MSc Neuroscience at KCL and MScR Integrated Neuroscience at Edinburgh.

Does anyone here have experience of studying on any of these courses? I'm having a hard time choosing between them. My ultimate aim would be to apply for PhD after completing my masters.

Thanks a lot.
I also don't have experience of these programs, but as I'm currently on a Neuroscience PhD I thought I'd weight in with some things you might want to consider.

It looks like the King's course is a taught masters, while the Edinburgh course is more of a research based masters. This is a really key difference between the programs, even though both have taught and research components (just more of one or the other on the different courses). Do you feel like your background knowledge of neuroscience is good (assuming this is a yes because of your first degree)? What are your thoughts on your research experience? If you feel like your research experience is a bit lacking (maybe because you didn't do some sort of placement year/year in industry during your undergraduate) then I would consider the research based masters in Edinburgh a bit more, as its probably a chance to build some more relevant research experience, which ultimately is going to be what sets you apart in a PhD application. Alternatively if you can see a module on either course that you think will help build your knowledge on a particular topic you don't feel you have at the moment, this might be worth pursuing more.

ANother thing to consider is if you have any interest in any particular areas of neuroscience that you might want to research, as you may want to choose a university based on if they have groups researching this (who you may be able to do a Masters project with). Given both have extensive neuroscience departments (iirc) you could be spoilt for choice at either.

Ultimately as mentioned above, both programs will be likely be more useful to you in a PhD application than not having one
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Shannaphilip
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I have the same offers from both places! I'm interested to know if we'll be studying together haha. I'm leaning towards Ed, because of the research component as mentioned above. And it's for the very reason that I don't have much undergrad research experience. Also, I prefer Ed taking location and financial factors in mind. Plus, I feel that there are so many more topics covered under the MScR, which is what I wanted. All the best for your decision!
I want to go on and do a PhD as well, in Neuroimmunology. QuentinM, would you happen to know a little about the progress in research in this area? I'm interested in the roles of microglia and astrocytes in CNS damage and I'm trying to find labs that work on this.
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QuentinM
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(Original post by Shannaphilip)
I have the same offers from both places! I'm interested to know if we'll be studying together haha. I'm leaning towards Ed, because of the research component as mentioned above. And it's for the very reason that I don't have much undergrad research experience. Also, I prefer Ed taking location and financial factors in mind. Plus, I feel that there are so many more topics covered under the MScR, which is what I wanted. All the best for your decision!
I want to go on and do a PhD as well, in Neuroimmunology. QuentinM, would you happen to know a little about the progress in research in this area? I'm interested in the roles of microglia and astrocytes in CNS damage and I'm trying to find labs that work on this.
Neuroimmunology is a pretty hot topic at the moment. I think you would be hard pressed to find a neuroscience department in the UK without at least one person investigating this in some capacity. I think because gliosis (activation of astrocytes/microglia in response to inflammatory signals) has been identified in a lot of neurological disorders (ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers...) and elsewhere (e.g. obesity) it's of great interest. I think there are still enough areas unexplored to keep it growing a bit more for a while yet (in my opinion-I don't work directly in this field but am loosely aware of the stuff happening in some parts of it).
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Paranoiaa
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(Original post by QuentinM)
Neuroimmunology is a pretty hot topic at the moment. I think you would be hard pressed to find a neuroscience department in the UK without at least one person investigating this in some capacity. I think because gliosis (activation of astrocytes/microglia in response to inflammatory signals) has been identified in a lot of neurological disorders (ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers...) and elsewhere (e.g. obesity) it's of great interest. I think there are still enough areas unexplored to keep it growing a bit more for a while yet (in my opinion-I don't work directly in this field but am loosely aware of the stuff happening in some parts of it).
after gaining a PhD, do you become a neuroscientist by getting involved with research and uni teaching etc?

what’s the career progression and salary like?
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QuentinM
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(Original post by Paranoiaa)
after gaining a PhD, do you become a neuroscientist by getting involved with research and uni teaching etc?

what’s the career progression and salary like?
A PhD will involve a long research project, so by carrying on with other research project you stay as a "neuroscientist". Usually post-PhD, for those that are keen on staying in research they'll spend a few years doing postdoctoral work in various labs. Many stay in this role quite successfully, some choose to then go on to become a "Principal Investigator" or "PI", which basically means starting your own lab. Usually within a few years of becoming a PI the University will put pressure on you to start lecturing for them. I don't know how easy that sounds, to be honest it really isn't as the funding applications for work to support you as a PI are incredibly competitive and hence many don't progress beyond this stage (completely understandably IMO).

Salary wise, you can easily google the salaries for these different stages, but off the top of my head:
*I'm on about ~£15.5k a year for my PhD
*Somewhere in the region of 27-36k a year as a Postdoc depending on your experience, the position etc.
*Lecturers and PI's somewhere in the region of £50k a year, increasing with seniority

I've tried to give ranges showing the breadth of possible options as you would see quite a bit of variability online
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Paranoiaa
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(Original post by QuentinM)
A PhD will involve a long research project, so by carrying on with other research project you stay as a "neuroscientist". Usually post-PhD, for those that are keen on staying in research they'll spend a few years doing postdoctoral work in various labs. Many stay in this role quite successfully, some choose to then go on to become a "Principal Investigator" or "PI", which basically means starting your own lab. Usually within a few years of becoming a PI the University will put pressure on you to start lecturing for them. I don't know how easy that sounds, to be honest it really isn't as the funding applications for work to support you as a PI are incredibly competitive and hence many don't progress beyond this stage (completely understandably IMO).

Salary wise, you can easily google the salaries for these different stages, but off the top of my head:
*I'm on about ~£15.5k a year for my PhD
*Somewhere in the region of 27-36k a year as a Postdoc depending on your experience, the position etc.
*Lecturers and PI's somewhere in the region of £50k a year, increasing with seniority

I've tried to give ranges showing the breadth of possible options as you would see quite a bit of variability online
Thanks! sorry for the all questions, i'm in final year of biomedical science and looking to do a msc in neuroscience.

Do you get much support from others (i.e. other researchers) when you are completing a Msc or PhD?

Within neuroscience, what lab techniques are most frequent other than brain imaging? Do you find it difficult?

What are the core modules in neuroscience? i.e. effect of drug abuse, learning, memory, epilepsy, dementia, alzheimer's?
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QuentinM
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(Original post by Paranoiaa)
Thanks! sorry for the all questions, i'm in final year of biomedical science and looking to do a msc in neuroscience.

Do you get much support from others (i.e. other researchers) when you are completing a Msc or PhD?

Within neuroscience, what lab techniques are most frequent other than brain imaging? Do you find it difficult?

What are the core modules in neuroscience? i.e. effect of drug abuse, learning, memory, epilepsy, dementia, alzheimer's?
No problem

Depends what you mean by support? It really depends on what lab/research team you are in. Some PI's are far too busy to support you directly and palm you off on others (or actually just leave you to it), others are much more active.

You'll have to be more specific than "neuroscience" if you want to know about most common lab techniques. I focus more on molecular neuroscience/neurodegenerative disease angles in my own work personally, and I've never done any patient brain imaging, I've done minimal imaging of brain tissue sections of mice, my current work focuses on imaging cultured neurons. There are so many techniques at the molecular, biochemical or clinical level that you would need to be a lot more specific-although to be honest I wouldn't say there are any lab techniques that are more frequent (except maybe immunochemical/fluorescent staining).

I wouldn't call any of those core modules, all of those would be more specialist modules to prepare you for possible research in that area. I couldn't tell you much about drug abuse or epilepsy, for example, and people who research those areas probably couldn't discuss my work that much either. Core modules would probably be basics of molecular neuroscience and systems neuroscience, I expect.
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Shannaphilip
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(Original post by QuentinM)
Neuroimmunology is a pretty hot topic at the moment. I think you would be hard pressed to find a neuroscience department in the UK without at least one person investigating this in some capacity. I think because gliosis (activation of astrocytes/microglia in response to inflammatory signals) has been identified in a lot of neurological disorders (ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers...) and elsewhere (e.g. obesity) it's of great interest. I think there are still enough areas unexplored to keep it growing a bit more for a while yet (in my opinion-I don't work directly in this field but am loosely aware of the stuff happening in some parts of it).
Thank you so much for answering my question!
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Paranoiaa
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(Original post by QuentinM)
No problem

Depends what you mean by support? It really depends on what lab/research team you are in. Some PI's are far too busy to support you directly and palm you off on others (or actually just leave you to it), others are much more active.

You'll have to be more specific than "neuroscience" if you want to know about most common lab techniques. I focus more on molecular neuroscience/neurodegenerative disease angles in my own work personally, and I've never done any patient brain imaging, I've done minimal imaging of brain tissue sections of mice, my current work focuses on imaging cultured neurons. There are so many techniques at the molecular, biochemical or clinical level that you would need to be a lot more specific-although to be honest I wouldn't say there are any lab techniques that are more frequent (except maybe immunochemical/fluorescent staining).

I wouldn't call any of those core modules, all of those would be more specialist modules to prepare you for possible research in that area. I couldn't tell you much about drug abuse or epilepsy, for example, and people who research those areas probably couldn't discuss my work that much either. Core modules would probably be basics of molecular neuroscience and systems neuroscience, I expect.
Thanks! I'm looking specifically at cognitive neuroscience
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QuentinM
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(Original post by Paranoiaa)
Thanks! I'm looking specifically at cognitive neuroscience
Ah ok that helps

Core modules wise, I expect most courses will focus on systems neuroscience (brain structure and function). In the case of this course you almost certainly will get experience analysing medical imaging in most courses and in many you will get the chance to actually perform some as well in a research capacity. Most research skills like critical analysis would be the other things, but you'll have been exposed to that in your first degree I expect.
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artful_lounger
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Bear in mind they are pretty fundamentally different programmes as the MScR is a research masters whereas the KCL MSc is a taught masters. The MScR is basically a "mini PhD" where you will spend most of the year doing a research project/thesis, while the KCL course would be more similar to undergrad experiences of teaching for most of the academic year, with an extended dissertation at the end over the summer. Fully half the KCL course is just developing the core neuroscience background, with then another module in some more specialised area, and then the dissertation is just 1/3 of the course. In the MScR only 40 out of the 180 credits is what would be similar to the "taught" material at KCL, and the rest is all research or research methods.

If you already have a strong background in your field and are aiming for a PhD, I might suggest the research masters might be the better option to get yourself into research sooner and at a higher level. It also gives you the option to two separate research projects to gain some breadth, or one much more in depth project. The MScR will hence probably demonstrate much more strongly your aptitude for doctoral level research when applying to PhDs later. If your MScR thesis is fairly original as well then that might form a good basis for the PhD thesis even (essentially just continuing your research from the MScR). However if you don't already have some idea of your direction in terms of research interests, that might be a bit tougher because you will probably need to relatively early on in the MScR propose a research project and start planning that, whereas the KCL course you might be able to defer it a bit longer.
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Paranoiaa
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(Original post by QuentinM)
Ah ok that helps

Core modules wise, I expect most courses will focus on systems neuroscience (brain structure and function). In the case of this course you almost certainly will get experience analysing medical imaging in most courses and in many you will get the chance to actually perform some as well in a research capacity. Most research skills like critical analysis would be the other things, but you'll have been exposed to that in your first degree I expect.
Hey thanks for the useful answers

i'm applying to the Msc cognitive neuroscience programme now and i've been asked if I have any relevant work experience:

- care home, pharmacy and GP work shadowing wouldn't be relevant right?
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Neuro1998
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(Original post by Paranoiaa)
Hey thanks for the useful answers

i'm applying to the Msc cognitive neuroscience programme now and i've been asked if I have any relevant work experience:

- care home, pharmacy and GP work shadowing wouldn't be relevant right?
It would be relevant if you can state how it has provided you with relevant experience pertaining to neuroscience or how it has developed the skills you would need as a neuroscientist/researcher.

For example, I included my healthcare experience of triaging in A+E for 3 years as I had frequently encountered patients suffering from neurological issues and I was often the liaison for neurology, exposing me to the clinical applications neuroscience can offer.

However, I also chose to do my dissertation on a neuroscience topic and I was also a laboratory volunteer for a separate neuroscience research project.

I would advise trying to get laboratory experience if you haven't already.

Any work experience is relevant if you can translate it to neuroscience - i.e. perhaps many of the residents in your care home had degenerative neurological illnesses such as dementia? Dementia is a huge research area currently for neuroscience.
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Paranoiaa
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(Original post by Neuro1998)
It would be relevant if you can state how it has provided you with relevant experience pertaining to neuroscience or how it has developed the skills you would need as a neuroscientist/researcher.

For example, I included my healthcare experience of triaging in A+E for 3 years as I had frequently encountered patients suffering from neurological issues and I was often the liaison for neurology, exposing me to the clinical applications neuroscience can offer.

However, I also chose to do my dissertation on a neuroscience topic and I was also a laboratory volunteer for a separate neuroscience research project.

I would advise trying to get laboratory experience if you haven't already.

Any work experience is relevant if you can translate it to neuroscience - i.e. perhaps many of the residents in your care home had degenerative neurological illnesses such as dementia? Dementia is a huge research area currently for neuroscience.
That makes sense yeah. I decided to include the care home one in my application because of the link of dementia and also the GP because I saw a number of conditions like depression being diagnosed frequently.
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