Current graduate students

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As of January 2013, there are 42 graduate students within the Department, working in all our research groups on a number of diverse and exciting research projects. On these pages you will find useful information about what life is like in the Department, how the Department is organised and what you can expect from the Department during your research degree, as well as what is expected of you.

PAGE 1 – Graduate education programme: courses and seminars 2013-14

PAGE 2Submitting your dissertation

PAGE 3Conversion from MPhil to PhD Guide

PAGE 4PhD First Year Report Guide

PAGE 5What to expect from your Supervisor


Graduate education programme: courses and seminars 2013-14

  1. Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  2. Statistics courses
  3. Programming courses
  4. Neuroimaging courses
  5. Departmental seminars
  6. Other possible sources of training

Important: please discuss your education and training needs with your supervisor

Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences

A compulsory seminar programme for first-year graduate students (except for SDP MPhil 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.

Dates: Mondays during Michaelmas and Lent terms 2013-14
Time: 4-5.30pm
Venue: Lectures are divided between the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit West Wing Seminar Room (first four lectures of each term) and the Department of Psychology main building 2nd floor Seminar Room (last four lectures of each term).
Credits: 1 credit per 2 seminars

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

Details of the seminars can be found at and abstracts and suggested reading can be found at

Statistics courses

There are several statistics courses provided which will be of use to postgraduates. You should ask your supervisor for guidance as to which course(s) will be most appropriate for you.


a) Fundamentals of Statistical Analysis and Analysis of Variance (Mike Aitken)

Postgraduate students who wish to consolidate their study of statistics are welcome to attend the lecture courses provided for final year Psychology undergraduates by Mike Aitken.

The course runs over 5 weeks. Each week has 2 lectures (Thursday and Friday), with a 2 hour SPSS class the following Monday.

Fundamentals of Statistical Analysis

Lecture Dates: 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 October, 1 November 2013
Time: 2pm-3pm
Venue: Psychology Lecture Theatre, Psychological Laboratory, Downing Site
Class Dates: 21, 28 October, 4 November 2013
Time: 2pm-4pm
Venue: Titan Teaching Rooms
Credits: 4 credits

Introduction to Analysis of Variance

Lecture Dates: 21, 22, 28, 29 November 2013
Time: 2pm-3pm
Venue: Psychology Lecture Theatre, Psychological Laboratory, Downing Site
Class Dates: 25 November & 2 December 2013
Time: 2pm-4pm
Venue: Titan Teaching Rooms
Credits: 3 credits

More information and course materials are available at


b) Statistical Methods for Cognitive Psychologists (Peter Watson)

Level: This is a course planned with the needs in mind of a graduate student starting as a PhD student at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences.

Style: The presentation will be as fairly formal lectures, each aiming

  • to outline a particular class of methods,
  • to give examples of it being applied to realistic situations,
  • to indicate how to implement it using software available at CBU.

Time: 11am-12 noon
Venue: West Wing Lecture Theatre of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Chaucer Road
Credits: 1 credit per 3 lectures
Dates: Thursdays in Michaelmas as listed below (the schedule and lecture notes will also be posted on the MRC-CBU wiki).




Exploratory Data Analysis


Simple and multiple linear regression


The General Linear Model and complex designs including Analysis of Covariance


Categorical Data Analysis


ANOVA of balanced multi-factorial designs: between subject designs, and single subject studies


Repeated Measures and Mixed Model ANOVA


Post-hoc tests, multiple comparisons, contrasts and handling interactions


Power analysis


Latent variable models: factor analysis and all that


c) Statistics for Graduate Biologists

For those postgraduates starting in January, or those unable to attend the courses described above, a course with similar content is provided by the Graduate School of Life Sciences in January-February 2013 (‘Statistics for Graduate Biologists’ organised by Dr Brian McCabe). See the following website for details

Other courses in transferable and general research skills are available from the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Further information can be found on their webpage.


d) Graduate Class in Methods (Professor Mark Haggard)

Strongly recommended

One class in November and three classes in Lent Term of 1.5+ hours’ duration. Graduates in all years are welcome, and some of the most knowledgeable students have found it worthwhile to re-attend in later years.

Understanding of methods is an important generic career skill for anyone in science, but one with which most graduates have traditionally been very inadequately supplied. For certain phenomena, very simple data, designs and particular statistical tests are adequate, or are all that can be done, and so are most appropriate. But it is unproductive to lock careers into these limited spaces. The ability to fully apply a range of more powerful techniques is best learned not by abstract coverage at the outset, but by fully applying them to data in which the learner has a stake. That is not offered in this course, although students are encouraged to bring problems along for a discussion section within the 2-hour format. Many errors of method result from ignorance or self-deception concerning pitfalls in method and the existence of techniques to address them. The classes convey awareness of these issues, of the reasoning behind the statistical solutions to research challenges, and a range of strategies and techniques for overcoming problems. Most of what you “know” (eg that ANCOVA requires a normal distribution of the dependent variable) is expressed in ways that make it at best misleading. Measurement, inference and generalisation are covered, not just statistical testing of hypotheses, which is a sometimes unproductive fetish. Specific topics include; trade-offs in design, power, adequacy of data, missing data, models, multivariable regression, up- and down-grading measurement level, transformations and interactions. The considerable need for methodological advice in the planning stage (Michaelmas Term) is covered by a consultancy service, which has also shaped the course:

Time: 4pm
Venue: Second Floor Seminar Room, Department of Psychology
Credits: 2 credits
Dates: Michaelmas – Wednesday 13 November 2013;  Lent – Wednesday 22 & 29 January, 5 February 2014


e) The Psychometrics Centre (Professor John Rust)

Psychometrics Courses

The Psychometrics Centre provides several courses on psychometric test development and use, ranging from simply putting a classical test online to designing and implementing your own adaptive test using our open-source test development platform, Concerto.


Professor John Rust, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell run a four-session programme during the Michaelmas term that covers the basis of both classical and modern psychometric methods.

Dates: Mondays 11, 18, 25 November & 2 December 2013
Time: 4pm-6pm
Venue: Arts School B, New Museums Site
Credits: 2 credits

Topics include

(i)     Introduction to psychometrics and the psychometric principles,

(ii)    Classical test development and testing via the internet,

(iii)   Programming in R and Item Response Theory and

(iv)  Getting the most out of your online test.

This course is compulsory for MPhil Social and Developmental Psychology students, but PhD students who are designing, developing and implementing ability, personality or any other kind of psychometric test as part of their project are encouraged to attend. The course is part of the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme, so booking is essential.  See the SSRMC website for further details


The Cambridge Psychometrics Centre Seminars, held fortnightly on Tuesdays in the 2nd Floor Seminar Room, Psychology Building, Downing Site at 4.30pm, provides a great opportunity for researchers at every stage to learn about advances in psychometrics and observe how modern techniques are applied in real life examples. For dates and details of seminars see

If you wish to be kept informed, register here

Credits:1 credit per 3 seminars


f) The Social Sciences Research Methods Centre

The Social Sciences Research Methods Centre (SSRMC) training programme of the University of Cambridge School of Humanities and Social Science provides training courses on statistical methods, primarily aimed at postgraduate students in psychology, sociology, economics, international relations and politics.

For details see the SSRMC timetable. Places are limited so book early. (it is necessary to log in to the system via Raven authentication; booking starts after 5pm on the 8th October).

Programming courses

a) MATLAB (Professor John Mollon)

Professor John Mollon (Department of Psychology) runs a short course entitled ‘Introduction to MatLab for experimental control’, consisting of three 2-hour sessions. This course is intended for those who have never programmed before. The emphasis will be on using MatLab to control experiments, but the course will serve to introduce the basic concepts of computing. Much of the course will be spent in practical work, using the classroom computers. This course is truly for beginners: if you already have some experience of programming, please do not come along to this strictly introductory course.

Dates: Monday 21 October, Thursday 24 October, Monday 28 October 2013
Time: 9am-11am
Venue: Ground-floor Classroom, Department of Psychology, Downing Site
Credits: 2 credits

b) University Programming Courses – Programming courses are also offered by the University Computing Service (see

Neuroimaging courses


Dr Rik Henson (MRC-CBU) will give 4 lectures in the Lent term on the basics of statistical parametric mapping (SPM), one of the main statistical tools for analyzing brain imaging data, both fMRI and EEG/MEG.

Dates: Thursdays 20, 27 February, 6, 13 March 2014
Time: 11am-1pm
Venue: West Wing Lecture Theatre of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Chaucer Road
Credits: 3 credits

Departmental seminars

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

Zangwill Club

Dates: Every Friday during full term 
Time: 4.30pm
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
Venue: Lecture Theatre at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Social and Developmental Psychology Seminars
Alternating Tuesdays during full term 
Time: 1.00pm
Venue: Seminar Room, Free School Lane

Credits for the Zangwill Club, Chaucer Club and SDP Seminars: 1 credit per 3 seminars

You should also check for other seminar series that may be of interest to you.

Other possible sources of training

In addition, credits can be earned by attendance at appropriate local seminars of the relevant research groups, attendance at relevant Part II or other teaching courses as recommended by the student’s supervisor on an individual basis, and any other relevant courses organised by the graduate school. Please see the website of the Graduate School of Life Sciences for credit values.

All University lecture listings

The online lecture list provides information on all lectures that are held at the University, including venue and time of each lecture. As a matriculated student, you are entitled to attend any lectures (but not classes or practicals) of any degree course. Students wishing to attend lectures for a subject for which they are not registered will be permitted to do so only if there is room for them in the lecture theatre. Please check the details published by the Faculty or Department concerned before attending such lectures as you may be required to sign up in advance

ON-LINE Training Courses and Tools

SPM course:

 Courses for specialist programmes like Freesurfer ( and FSL ( and specific Matlab toolboxes like Psychtoolbox and SPM.


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