Master in Neuroscience


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The MRes in Neuroscience is designed to provide advanced training in neuroscience research. Students conduct a year-long research project and learn relevant techniques and skills through course work. Research projects are carried out in a single laboratory over the full length of the programme, thereby giving students a unique opportunity to pursue research questions in depth. The overall aim is to help students acquire the skills needed to succeed as independent research scientists.

The MRes in Neuroscience is a full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Psychology and Neuroscience.


  • The intensive week-long introductory module prepares students for the course before the start of Semester 1.
  • The course includes a streamlined taught component.
  • Students have the opportunity to conduct a year-long project in a single laboratory.

Teaching format

The course begins with a week-long intensive module which continues during Semester 1 with a weekly seminar series. Over two semesters, students will also complete two additional Honours-level modules.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, practicals and guided the independent study. The modules are assessed principally by written work and oral presentations.

During Semester 1 and 2, and during the summer months, students will conduct an original research project culminating in a written thesis, which forms the main component of assessed work.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.


  • Research Design in Neuroscience: intensive week-long module provides an introduction to designing and carrying out neuroscience research at the postgraduate level.
  • Techniques and Skills in Neuroscience Research: examines state-of-the-art neuroscience techniques through critical analysis of primary literature.


Students choose two optional modules, examples of optional modules include:

  • Advanced Microscopy and Image Analysis: an introduction to advanced imaging techniques, such as Confocal, Super-resolution, TIRF and Electron Microscopy.
  • Behavioural Neuroscience: allows students to access current research in the area of behavioural neuroscience. Possible topics include motivation, learning and attention.
  • Biology and Behaviour of Social Insects: examines and compares the biology of the four main groups of social insects: termites, ants, wasps and bees.
  • Evolution and Human Behaviour: introduces and critically evaluate the main evolutionary approaches currently being used, including socio-biology, evolutionary psychology, behavioural ecology and gene-culture co-evolution.
  • Evolutionary Developmental Biology: aims to cover some of the main, current themes in evolutionary developmental biology.
  • Introduction to Neuroscience: primarily for students who have not studied neuroscience previously, this module covers basic biochemical, cellular and behavioural aspects of the nervous system in health and disease.
  • Mechanisms of Behaviour: Integrating Psychological and Neuroscience Perspectives: explores some of the many physiological and neural systems that modulate patterns of behaviour in a range of species, including humans.
  • Molecular Mechanisms of Membrane Trafficking: considers how molecules control the movement of substances through the secretory pathway but will focus on how cells regulate the release of contents.
  • Motoneurons: From Physiology to Pathology: provides in-depth knowledge of key aspects of neuronal function and potential dysfunction by focusing on motoneurons.
  • Neurodegeneration and Aging: develops a detailed understanding of molecular neuroscience at the biochemical and molecular level.
  • Neuroethology: focuses mainly on behaviours arising from the interactions between predators and their prey.
  • Neuromodulation: explores the diverse range of neuromodulatory mechanisms and outlines their importance in information processing in the nervous system.
  • Neural Basis of Episodic Memory: examines how the brain enables us to remember information from our personal experience.
  • Neuroethology: studies the neural control of natural animal behaviour from a biological comparative perspective.
  • Research Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience: Tremendous progress in technology allows now to observe the brain in action to understand the physical bases of behaviour. This module showcases this state of the art approach.
  • Synaptic Transmission: covers recent progress in understanding the morphology and ultrastructure of synapses, neurotransmitter corelease and recycling mechanisms, retrograde signalling, synaptic plasticity, the role of glial cells and the development of neurotransmission.
  • Vision: from Neurons to Awareness: develops an advanced understanding of the psychological processes involved in visual perception.

Optional modules are subject to change each year, and some may only allow limited numbers of students.

Research project and thesis

Students will spend one year conducting an original research project culminating in a data-based thesis of not more than 15,000 words. The thesis will describe the research results obtained from the year-long research project and must be submitted by a date specified in August.

If students choose not to complete the thesis requirement for the MRes, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Certificate. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGCert instead of an MRes.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.


A large number of Psychology and Neuroscience postgraduates have gained postdoctoral and lecturing positions in universities across the world. The School provides opportunities for students to gain academic experience by being involved in tutorials, laboratory classes and through conducting independent research.

In addition to pursuing careers in academia, postgraduates within the School have gone on to pursue careers in a variety of fields including industry, education and medicine.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and provides resources specific for neuroscientists, including guidance on career options and opportunities to connect to neuroscience alumni through university’s social networking programme, Saint Connect.

Entry requirements

  • Undergraduate degree (typically 2.1 or higher) in a science-related subject (e.g. neuroscience, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, computer science). Candidates with other suitable and equivalent qualifications such as relevant work experience or research accomplishments will also be considered.
  • If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.
  • personal statement, including the rationale for working with particular advisor(s) (500 words maximum).
  • two letters of recommendation.
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact a potential advisor within the School before applying, and to provide a letter of support from this person (see contact information for all participating faculty).
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).


Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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