Educational programme

The neuroscience community in Utrecht is united under the umbrella organisation Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht (NCU). This organisation comprises of top researchers from various faculties and research institutes. This enormous span of disciplines ensures participation of lecturers in all aspects of neuroscience and excellent research facilities for students. 

The programme begins with a 10-week introductory course ‘Fundamentals of Neuroscience and Cognition’, after which each student determines his/her own individual study path with their track coordinator. The two-year programme consists of a major and minor research internship, a master’s thesis, elective courses, and a series of seminars from across the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Each component of the programme is carefully selected by the student in consultation with their track coordinator, resulting in a unique study path tailored to the student’s interests and ambitions. More than 50% of the students in the programme select a minor internship at a top research institute abroad.

General outline of the Master’s programme

Introductory course: ‘Fundamentals of Neuroscience and Cognition’ (15 EC)
This compulsory 10-week course covers all aspects of the areas of research involved in the Neuroscience and Cognition programme. It provides a basic background for students with various bachelor backgrounds over the full scope of the multidisciplinary field. Researchers from all participating research institutes highlight basic concepts, and share their knowledge about state-of-the-art topics and issues in the field. The course also contains hands-on practicals to familiarise each student with basic techniques in neuroscience research, ranging from neurogenomics to behavioural neuroscience, from neuroimaging to neurophysiology. The lectures and practicals are given by more than 40 experienced researchers active in Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht (NCU), ensuring contact between students and potential internship supervisors. Each student must pass the final exam to proceed to the next phase of the Master’s programme.

Major and minor research internships (51 and 33 EC)
Each student completes a major and minor internship. There is a large choice of internships, and selection is carried out under supervision of the student’s tract coordinator. The major internship is first, and must be carried out within Utrecht University. The minor internship may be at Utrecht University or at another research institute elsewhere in the Netherlands or abroad.

Writing assignment (7.5 EC)
The writing assignment consists of an overview of the most recent literature and a detailed discussion on a topic of the student’s choice. The student chooses their topic and supervisor in consultation with their track co-ordinator. The topic of the assignment differs from that in the two internships, thus further increasing the neuroscientific horizon of the student. 

Research seminars (1.5 EC)
During the two years of the Master’s programme, the student must attend at least 10 top-level research seminars (organised by the Graduate School of Life Science, Helmholtz Institute, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, etc.) and collate written summaries of the lectures in a portfolio. 

Electives (12 EC)
Each student selects a number of courses (total length 8 weeks) from a large range of available Master’s courses in Utrecht University. Selection of courses is based on the specific interest of individual students. The electives can also be used to learn an additional technique or method in a lab. Electives may be done completed during the internships and/or composition of the writing assignment.