Neuroscience at a RG uni

(63 Posts)
Socialaddict Mon 04-Jul-16 15:13:18

DD would like to study Neuroscience at a top RG university. What are the required/ preferred A levels for this and which uni would you recommend as best for this subject? Many thanks in advance.

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reallyanotherone Mon 04-Jul-16 15:20:54

Don't get too hung up on Rg. Some of the best science uni's are not rg.

LineyReborn Mon 04-Jul-16 15:24:27

Biology, chemistry, maths and physics. But your daughter will presumably have had a look online and know this? You don't need all four, but you do need at least two and preferably three, and grades at the AAB mark.

RG is a red herring. Honestly.

VeryPunny Mon 04-Jul-16 15:29:15

Academic scientist here - I would only consider RG unis, and would seriously consider a straight science (eg biochemistry) before neuroscience.

Generally good science courses come attached to serious research universities - in neuroscience that generally means a top class teaching hospital.

I would probably put UCL near top of the list - the neuroscience at Queen's Square (functional imaging lab etc) are world class.

Don't underestimate the importance of maths for the statistics and analysis methods needed. It's generally easier to pick up the necessary biology than it is to pick up hardcore maths.

Boogers Mon 04-Jul-16 15:29:49

Agree with PPs about the RG thing. I had an offer as a mature student to study neuroscience and anatomy at Sheffield with only an Access Course pass but I had lots of relevant work experience. RG isn't everything, it's the overall course and feel you get for the place and academics. I wish I'd gone to Sheffield.

Has she got her heart set on a certain place?

ErrolTheDragon Mon 04-Jul-16 15:38:50

For something rather specialised like neuroscience, I'd have thought it was important to find out where has the best rankings and employability (which might or might not be RG).
There are all sorts of online resources eg unistats and, and/or get a copy of the Good University Guide.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 04-Jul-16 15:43:54

Not quite clear what you're saying, boogers... Sheffield is an RG uni, and highly rated in some areas.

TBH I'd tend to agree with Punny that a 'vanilla' BSc followed by specialising for a masters for PhD may be the better way to go - your DD should certainly consider this. (how old is she BTW?)


Boogers Mon 04-Jul-16 15:50:20

Errol I didn't know that, sorry. I just saw the course, went for the open day, applied and got an offer. blush

reallyanotherone Mon 04-Jul-16 15:53:40

Punny- so you wouldn't accept biochemistry from a non-rg uni like Dundee then?

Parietal Mon 04-Jul-16 16:17:48

Neuroscience is a very big field, going from genetics to human behaviour and everything in between. People studying different ends of that range have different skills & requirements. e.g. biochemistry at the genetics end / psychology at the human behaviour end. You don't have to study neuroscience as an undergrad to move into it at MSc / PhD level. Lots of people come from biochemistry / biology / psychology / physics and move into neuroscience later.

If you want to go beyond undergrad in neuroscience, you need maths. plenty of it. plus a bit of whatever area you want to focus on.

For universities, I think UCL is the best in the UK - it is certainly the biggest with the most breadth of expertise & options. Oxbridge is also not bad. [I am based at UCL so may be biased!]

NotDavidTennant Mon 04-Jul-16 16:25:18

Best places to study neuroscience IMO: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, King's, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, UCL, York. I may have missed a few, but those are most of the top places. Not all of them offer neuroscience as an undergraduate degree though, so she may have to opt to study biology or psychology and then choose module options to specialise in neuroscience.

I would look closely at the course offerings at each university as they won't all have the same focus or facilities.

NotCitrus Mon 04-Jul-16 16:35:14

What NotDavidTennant said. Most undergrad courses have a lot in common with biochemistry, pathology and other biological sciences and medicine, and you do modules in neuroscience in 2nd and 3rd years.

BeckyMcDonald Mon 04-Jul-16 16:55:02

I have never,never seen the words Russell Group used anywhere but on MN. Is it your daughter who is set on RG, or is it you?

My sister, who is at a RG uni, didn't know what RG was when I asked her.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 04-Jul-16 17:24:32

My DH was a research manager who did a lot of interviewing, and he certainly uses the words 'Russell Group' - but he also knows that for specific subjects, a non RG may be ahead of many RG. But then, he looks at metrics such as the international ranking of an institution/course too. If the OPs DD wants a career in neuroscience, then her CV will be going to people like him or academics.

VeryPunny Mon 04-Jul-16 18:27:03

Really - depends on what they were applying for. If they are looking at PhD/Masters I'd want a recommendation from a good undergraduate project supervisor - and that means someone whose research I am familiar with and whose judgement I trust. The vast majority of those groups in my field are at a handful of RG unis, and my field is not a million miles away from neuroscience.

Yes, there are good groups in non RG unis but given science is so expensive, good research and the equipment it needs are overwhelmingly concentrated at a few RG unis. If she doesn't pursue an academic career, she'll still have an excellent degree from a well thought of uni.

Socialaddict Mon 04-Jul-16 23:05:13

Thank you all very much for your replies. I did write earlier but noticed that it did not register. DD just finished year 10 so will be doing her GCSEs next year. She is quite keen to start with a good science based Psychology degree and ultimately end with a neuroscience postgrad. I shall read carefully your suggestions and shall start doing some research with her. I am also based at UCL and am aware of the psychology department there. Thank you for confirming it for me.

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Decorhate Tue 05-Jul-16 06:15:36

I'm not an expert in those areas but are you sure a psychology degree is scientific enough to enable post-grad neuroscience?

Namechanger2015 Tue 05-Jul-16 06:55:43

I am very impressed that she knows the specifics of what she would like to study at such a young age!

Would she consider doing a broader degree and specialising at PhD level so she is not specialised so early on? Just a thought, your DD sounds amazing at a very young age.

I did a degree in biology and then specialised for my PhD (at UCL smile) which stood me in good stead for a broad range of science-based jobs.

titchy Tue 05-Jul-16 07:49:44

I'd say a biology degree first rather than Psychology. There won't be enough chemistry in a Psychology degree.

Socialaddict Tue 05-Jul-16 09:41:12

Thank you Namechanger and titchy. She is reasonably mature and has been talking about this for a few years, so I presume she is serious about this. I am unsure about the Biology as a first degree but shall suggest.

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titchy Tue 05-Jul-16 10:26:44

To be (very) blunt she is far too young and inexperienced to decide on a specific pathway at year 10. She hasn't even begun to learn the whole range of related disciplines - hell half of them probably don't exist right now! She really needs to do a broad first degree then specialise, from a postion of graduate level knowledge, not high school knowledge.

And see here for probably the world leader in this area:

UCL MSc Neuroscience

A Bioscience first degree is needed, not a Psychology based one. Which is what makes me think she doesn't have the academic knowledge to be able to pick a specialty.

Socialaddict Tue 05-Jul-16 11:03:44

thanks Titchy, you might be right. I'll relate this to her. thanks for the advice.

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Socialaddict Tue 05-Jul-16 11:15:57


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Vixster99 Tue 05-Jul-16 11:39:10

agree with tichy its a problem in general that our education system forces specialism far too soon.

I did a Molecular Biology degree at Sheffield as a mature student. I loved it & wish I could have done it when I was younger. However, one advantage is that most of the stuff I learned hadn't even been imagined when I was 15/16, that's how fast some fields are developing.

If she is leaning towards a scientific career then she needs to specialise in science subjects, no question. Maths, chemistry, biology as an absolute minimum.
I'd say a biochemistry-based degree will give her lots of flexibility for a future career. (there's lots of choice in degree subjects in that area). Sheffield & I suppose many other Unis tend to work on a modular system, where you have to do a specified number of short courses, some of which are compulsory based on your choice of degree. There's more specialised subject options available in the second & third years. I started off doing Biochemistry & Genetics Dual Hons but I got interested in the ethics of research. I was allowed to change my degree title so I could do a couple of modules in that.

As for neuroscience, Sheffield has a world-class research dept specialising in neurodegenerative diseases. She could always get a degree elsewhere & try for a place to do a MSc or PhD there.

Parietal Tue 05-Jul-16 19:25:00

Titchy - I know year 10 is young, but that is the age when I decided I wanted to be a neuroscientist, and 25 years later here I am. I also came via a Psychology pathway, with Maths A-level.

So it can be done.

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