Lynette Looi Ling
Course MSc Brain Imaging and Cognitive Neuroscience
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What professional roles do those completing this course typically go on to if they are not looking to pursue a PhD?
there are other options other than a PhD as the skills you gain are going to be very valuable like the statistical skills and analytical skills. You can go into research roles in both corporate and government places (like universities/hospitals) or even pursue a clinical doctorate position.
what was the application process like?
The application process was fairly easy and fuss free. Unlike undergraduate, you do not apply through UCAS, you will apply directly via the University application system where you will create an account. You will need to submit a personal statement and 2 references along with the application. If you have not yet finished your degree, then you will usually only be offered a conditional offer (with expected grades) first, before being given an unconditional offer after attainment of the expected grades.
Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?
Indeed, the jump from an undergraduate to postgraduate study was huge. There was way lesser contact hours in terms of lectures and seminars than in undergraduate. Unlike undergraduate, students are expected to have more initiative and also be more independent. For example: a lot of times, students will not have sufficient time to complete the given practice during the workshop and are expected to complete them independently at their own time at home. However, having said that, though the jump was huge, but it was doable as I had a lot of support and guidance from both module tutors and my primary supervisor.
What, for you, are the best things about the course?
One of the best things about the course was definitely the module I have taken like Matlab, Advanced Brain Imaging and Fundamentals of Brain Imaging. I have always been interested in the neuroscience aspect of Psychology and being able to expand my knowledge base was very satisfying for me. I have also enjoyed the small size of the course of only about 30 students, it was definitely less intimidating and more comfortable for me to speak out or voice my opinions. I really liked how the classes were carried out, where it was structured to be led by students. For example: during our fundamentals classes, as a group of 4, we presented a self-chosen article and answered questions from the class and tutor. Of course, the tutors play a part in ensuring the course quality. I have had very understanding, supportive and knowledgeable tutors who have infused my enthusiasm in this field! Lastly, the placement was definitely one of the best things about the course, and an eye opener!
Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?
I have always wanted to pursue an academic career. Through my time at Birmingham, I have been building on my research skills, through my placement and my thesis. I am happy to say that I have been accepted into a PhD in a similar field. I will be looking at biomarkers in Pediatric traumatic brain injury starting next January.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?
It is a very interesting and stimulating field! I will highly encourage anyone who is considering pursuing a postgraduate in this field. It does not only allow you to develop knowledge or skills specific to neuroscience, but also skills that you can use in other fields. For example: my placement allowed me to work with neurodevelopmental disorders in children, and I have used surveys that are more related to developmental psychology. I will say to be prepared for hard work, but it is very rewarding at the end!
What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?
My greatest motivation was my ambition to pursue an academic career in the future. I knew that I was not ready to pursue a PhD straight after my undergraduate. Additionally, I was not clear on my area of passion and did not want to jump straight in to a PhD that I could potentially regret or be lacking the skills for. Therefore, I took up my MSc to affirm my field of interests and to gain better skills like critical thinking, working with MRI data and even technical skills like using the transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation.