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Programme structure

PhD and MPhil degrees both involve conducting research under the supervision of a member of staff and submitting the results in a thesis.

PhD students study for three years (six years part-time), while an MPhil degree takes two years (four years part-time) and thus requires a smaller quantity of research to be completed.

Applicants are expected to choose between our two PhD programmes based on their research interests: those who plan to conduct research at the York Neuroimaging Centre, or to complete research in cognitive neuroscience are advised to apply for the PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, whilst those with research interests in all other areas are advised to apply for the PhD in Psychology. Potential supervisors can also give advice on the most suitable programme for individual applicants.


Each research student has a supervisor who provides advice on a day-to-day basis and a co-supervisor. In addition, students meet with their Thesis Advisory Panel once a semester to review their progress and present their plans for the next semester. The Thesis Advisory Panel consists of the supervisor, the co-supervisor and at least one other member of faculty who supplies broader expertise, support and advice.

Requirements of both PhD programmes

As well as starting their research, first year graduate students attend training sessions designed to enhance their research skills and broad knowledge of psychology or cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging. PhD Students complete two module in their first year (unless already completed before):

Throughout these courses students attend the weekly research seminars in the Department of Psychology which include a 'meet the speaker' event. Students can also attend weekly research seminars at the York Neuroimaging Centre and any relevant final-year undergraduate and MSc courses to enhance their knowledge and skills in specific areas of interest. There are also academic tools sessions covering grant and CV writing as well as interview skills. 

All students give a 15-20 minute presentation about their research project to the department, in each of their three years of study. This is an invaluable opportunity to get helpful feedback on the project and to develop presentation skills.

All PhD students prepare written work (literature survey, empirical study and a PhD plan) for assessment 12-18 months after starting their PhD (full time). At this juncture the suitability of the student for PhD study is formally assessed and PhD registration is either confirmed or the student is advised to change their registration to an MPhil degree.

We strongly encourage and support our PhD students to submit their final thesis detailing the research work conducted during their degree within 3 years, however if required, writing up can continue into a fourth year. The thesis must be submitted within 4 years.

ESRC funding

PhD students with 1+3 funding from the ESRC undertake a taught masters course for one year before starting their three-year PhD. All of our taught masters courses are accredited by the ESRC for this purpose.

Click here for further information on PhD funding.

Student working during practical in lab

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