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Department of Psychology

Please discuss your education and training needs with your supervisor

Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences

compulsory seminar programme for first-year graduate students which has been jointly established by the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. This consists of a weekly series of theoretical seminars presented by senior researchers during Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

There are 16 seminars in total each year. Each graduate student is expected to attend a minimum of 5 graduate seminars in their first year, and to have attended 10 seminars by the end of their second year.

Lecturers often provide abstracts and examples of suggested reading; please check each event for further details.

Click here for the current Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences schedule

Departmental Seminars

The Department has a series of weekly colloquia, the Zangwill Club, every Friday during full term throughout the academic year. Students should aim to attend at least 10 Zangwill Club talks each academic year.

Zangwill Club

Dates: Every Friday during Full Term
Time: 4.30pm - 5.30pm
Venue: Department of Psychology Lecture Theatre

The Department also hosts Behavioural Neuroscience Seminars, and Social and Developmental Psychology Seminars. The MRC-Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit hold weekly seminars, the Chaucer Club, at the MRC-CBU on Chaucer Road on Thursdays throughout the year. International and national speakers present current research on a wide range of topics in areas relating to brain and cognition at these colloquia. Students may choose to attend these seminars to supplement their graduate education, in discussion with their supervisors.

Chaucer Club

Dates: Every Thursday during Full Term
Time: 3.30pm - 4.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Social and Developmental Psychology Seminars

Dates: Fortnightly on Tuesdays during Full Term 
Time: 1pm - 2pm
Venue: Department of Psychology Lecture Theatre

*All students should aim to attend 5 Social and Developmental Psychology seminars in their first year. By the end of their second year, they should have attended at least 10. 

Students should also check for other seminar series that may be of interest to them.

Programming Courses

MATLAB (Dr Denes Szucs)

Dénes Szűcs runs an 8-hour intensive course entitled 'Practical
introduction to MATLAB Programming'. The course focuses on practical
hands-on variable handling and programming implementation rather than on
theory. This course is intended for those who have never programmed before
including those who only call/run Matlab scripts but are not familiar with
how code works and how matrices are handled in Matlab. (Note that calling a
couple of scripts is not 'real' programming.)

It is essential that you bring your own laptop with the latest version of
Matlab (see pre-installed. Cambridge students can download and install Matlab from for free with their CRSid. Select and install all packages available to you. We will immediately write programme code so the best way to learn is to use Matlab during the class for taking notes and running the code.

It is advisable that you skim through the excellent free
resource Getting Started and Language Fundamentals

Thursday 10 October 2019 - 10.00-12.00 and 14:00-16:00

Friday 11 October 2019 - 10.00-12.00 and 14:00-16:00

All sessions will take place in the Kenneth Craik Seminar Room.

For more information visit Dénes Szűcs page at the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. 

Introduction to Scientific Computing and Matlab

The CBU will be running a weekly Matlab course which will be extremely helpful to anyone planning on programming their experiments and analysing data in Matlab.

These sessions will combine theory, demos and hands-on practice, aimed at researchers with no or little prior experience in scientific computing and programming.

Workshops will take place in the WWSR on Wednesday at 14:30 for approximately 1.5 hours. Attendance does not require registration, everyone is welcome.

Introduction to Scientific Computing and MatLab course details.

University Programming Courses

Programming courses are also offered by the University Computing Service.  See

Requirements for students without a background in Psychology

PhD research in the Department of Psychology can often be interdisciplinary, and thus a number of students join the programme from diverse academic backgrounds. In order to ensure that all PhD students in the department have a baseline level of psychology knowledge, those students without a background in Psychology are required to attend 5 hours of foundational psychology teachingduring their first year.

These 5 lectures can be taken from any undergraduate psychology course (NOTE: These do not include statistics, which is covered separately). However, below are some suggestion of introductory courses that may be the most appropriate. Students should consider in discussion with their supervisors which topics will be most useful for their particular area of study. Remember you are free (and encouraged!)  to attend more than 5 hours of psychology teaching, this is merely the minimum required. Paper guides for all the available courses will be available on Moodle.

Suggested Courses:

  • Psychological and Behavioural Sciences 1 (PBS1)This 1st year course introduces a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of psychology. All lectures are 1 hour and take place on Mondays at 11am and Fridays at 2pm, in Mill Lane Lecture Room 1. The topics covered in this course are:

Michaelmas Term: Gender (2 lectures); Personality (2 lectures); IQ and Intelligence testing (2 lectures); Embodied Cognition (2 lectures); Health Psychology (2 lectures); Perception of Faces (2 lectures), interpersonal perception (2 lectures)
Lent Term: Social and Cognitive Development: Infancy (3 lectures); Social Cognition (3 lectures); Neuroscience of Decision-Making (3 lectures); Emotion (3 lectures); Political Decision Making (4 lectures)

  • Psychological and Behavioural Sciences 2 (PBS2): This 1st year course covers the foundations of psychological study, including the methodological and biological knowledge and skills required to engage with the research literature. All lectures are 1 hour and take place on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9am in Mill lane lecture room 9. Potentially useful topics covered in this course are:

Michaelmas Term: Introduction to psychological Enquiry; Introduction to the brain; Neurobiology (2 lectures); Genetics (2 lectures); Brain Imaging (2 lectures); Human Electrophysiology (2 lectures); Brain Interventions (2 lectures); Neuropsychology (2 lectures).
Lent Term: Study Design (3 lectures); Ethics; Qualitative Research (2 lectures)

  • Medical and Vet Sciences,  Neurobiology & Human Behaviour  (MVST-NHB)This is a 2nd year medicine/veterinary course that contains a number of lectures on neurobiology and psychology. All lectures are 1 hour and take place in the Babbage lectures theatre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 and 12. Potentially useful topics covered in this course are:

Lent Term: Emotion (2 lectures); Neurobiology of Attention; Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory (2 lectures); Neurobiology of Memory (2 lectures); Neurobiology of Language; Language and Aging; Executive Functioning, attentional control and the prefrontal cortex, Reasoning and decision (medial dilemmas), Cognitive neuroscience of development (infancy-adolescence), Development disorders (intellectual function), Psychopathology (Schizophrenia & Depression).

Other Possible Sources of Training

Students can attend local seminars of the relevant research group or attend other teaching courses as recommended by the student’s supervisor on an individual basis, and any other relevant courses organised by the graduate school.

The Social Sciences Research Methods Centre (SSRMC) offers postgraduate students with training in a broad range of quantitative and qualitative research methods.