Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit


**CLOSED** Gatsby PhD Programme ** CLOSED**

Training in theoretical and computational neuroscience and machine learning

Application for 2020 entry is Closed.

the unit

The Gatsby Unit is a centre for theoretical neuroscience and machine learning, focusing on unsupervised, supervised and reinforcement learning, neural dynamics, population coding, Bayesian analysis, kernel methods, and deep learning; together with applications of these to the analysis of perceptual processing, neural data, signal processing and machine vision. It provides a unique opportunity for a critical mass of theoreticians to interact closely with each other, with the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (SWC, with which the Unit shares a new, purpose-designed building), with the cross-faculty Centre for Computational Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML), and with other world-class research groups in related departments at UCL and nearby, including: Computer Science, Functional Imaging, Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, Psychology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, The Ear Institute, Statistical Science, and the Alan Turing Institute.

PhD study

Students at the Gatsby Unit study toward a PhD in either machine learning or theoretical neuroscience, with minor emphasis in the complementary field. The PhD programme lasts four years, including the first year of intensive instruction in techniques and research in theoretical and systems neuroscience and machine learning. Courses in the first year, taught in conjunction with colleagues from the SWC and CSML, provide a comprehensive introduction to theoretical and systems neuroscience and to machine learning; with further multidisciplinary training in other areas of neuroscience also available. Students are encouraged to work and interact closely with peers and faculty in the SWC and CSML throughout their PhD, providing a uniquely multidisciplinary research environment. Projects involving collaboration within or outside UCL are welcome.

Besides the Gatsby-funded programme, students from some other PhD programmes are also able to carry out all or part of their research in our Unit. We do not offer our own undergraduate or taught masters programmes, nor (usually) a research masters, although exceptionally, some students with pre-secured shorter-term studentships have joined us to study for an MPhil degree. However, students in some UCL Masters programmes may carry out projects in the Unit.

Applicants to the Gatsby PhD programme should have a strong analytical background, a keen interest in neuroscience and/or machine learning and a relevant first degree, for example in Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Physics, Psychology or Statistics.

Full funding is available to all students, regardless of nationality.   Gatsby PhD studentships cover the cost of tuition at the appropriate rate, and include a tax-free stipend, presently £24,000 per annum.   The Unit also welcomes applications from students with pre-secured funding or who are currently soliciting other scholarship/studentships.


The application deadline for 2020 entry is 23:59 on 17 November 2019 (GMT).

Please complete the online form at apply.gatsby.ucl.ac.uk. You will need to register and respond to an email to verify your contact address. There have been reports of this verification email being treated as spam, so please check for a misfiled message if you do not see it.

Most information will be entered into the online form, but we will ask you to upload or provide the following:

  • Transcripts for your previous degrees
  • A statement of research interests
  • The names and contact details of three academic referees who have agreed to comment on your ability and suitability for doctoral research in machine learning or theoretical neuroscience. Please submit these names as soon as possible. You may do so before the rest of the application is complete. References must reach us by 18 November (one day after your deadline) to guarantee that they will be read, and it is your responsibility to follow up with your referees to ensure we receive them in time.


Questions should be directed to admissions@gatsby.ucl.ac.uk. We have collected answers to some frequently asked questions.

More details about our research are available from our research section and the faculty webpages.