Benefit from expert supervision and access to facilities in both City, University of London, and La Sapienza (Rome), with our international Joint PhD award in Psychology and Social Neuroscience.
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You’ll investigate a range of topics in cognitive, social and affective neuroscience. You will be working alongside leading researchers from City, University London and Sapienza Universita di Roma.
You’ll benefit from access to research expertise and facilities in both institutions, which have been paired due to the complementary nature of their resources.
Working with healthy subjects - and subclinical, clinical and neuropsychological patients - you’ll study topics such as: embodied cognition and the neural correlates of cognitive, social and affective functions like empathy, intention, action and emotion understanding.
On completing the PhD, you will receive a degree from both, laying the foundation for a collaborative international academic career.
The Joint PhD in programme in Psychology and Social Neuroscience is designed to develop your skills as an independent scholar. The PhD programme is structured as follows:
In year one students are assigned a tutor, who will supervise their work, supporting the student’s growth throughout. A research topic will be chosen in accordance with the training program.
Research topic and technique are chosen by considering student's interests, resources and lab's priorities at City and Sapienza.
In year two students will finalise their literature review, develop an outline of the overall shape of their thesis and carry out the bulk of their empirical and analytic work.
In year three students will conclude their empirical work and focus on writing up their thesis. They will also seek to disseminate their work in the form of peer-reviewed publications and/or conference presentations and identify opportunities for the next stage of their career.
All students on graduate research programmes are initially registered for an MPhil award.
Promotion to registration to PhD is not automatic, but contingent on the satisfactory outcome of a review process.
Progress in subsequent years will continue to be monitored through the annual review process. Any failures to meet expected milestones may lead to the withdrawal of candidates.
For full details about the City PhD programme structure, please see the Guide for Research Students.
Applicants should demonstrate the following:
- A track record of high academic achievement, demonstrated by a good undergraduate degree with at least a second class (upper division) pass or equivalent.
- Good research methodological skills as demonstrated through relevant research experience and/or a good Masters level degree with at least a pass with merit (or equivalent).
- Excellent communication skills, both written and oral (see also the section on English language Requirements).
- Excellent planning and time-management skills.
For students whose first language is not English, the following qualifications will meet the English language requirement for entry to a postgraduate course of study:
- A first degree from a UK university or from the CNAA
- A first degree from an overseas institution recognised by City as providing adequate evidence of proficiency in the English language, for example, from institutions in Australia, Canada or the USA
- GCE O-level/GCSE English language or English literature, grade C minimum
- Cambridge ESOL CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) at grade C or above
- An overall score of 6.5 in the English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum of 6.0 for each subtest
- Satisfactory standard in the verbal section of the Princeton Test (GMAT)
- US SAT with 500 in verbal performance
- Warwick English Language Test (WELT) with pass grades of BBC minimum
- Other evidence of proficiency in the English language which satisfies the Board of Studies concerned.
For more information see our main entry requirements page.
If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.
The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:
- Students on courses of more than six months
- Students on courses of less than six months
- Students on a pre-sessional English language course.
For more information see our main Visa page.
Fees and funding
Full-time UK:£4,500 per year
Part-time UK:To be confirmed
Full-time Overseas/EU:£12,000 per year
Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.
Support for PhD study
Prospective students are encouraged to explore doctoral Grants and funding opportunities such as:
- Commonwealth Scholarships
- Research Council studentship awards, if available
- SASS studentships for Black British applicants, if applicable.
Our bursaries are non-repayable sums of money granted by the University, usually based on need.
Our loans are repayable sums of money granted by the University or other body.
Our scholarships are when the University pays towards your Study fees. You may also be eligible for further funding.
Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000.
This will be over three years to support study for a doctoral degree.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study. It can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive.
For more information, please see our Postgraduate Doctoral Loans page.
Some of our degrees may involve additional expenses which are not covered by your tuition fees. Find out more about additional expenses.
City has a well-established structure and processes to support your research.
All research students will have a supervisory team of at least two members of faculty (one based at City, one based at Sapienza). The supervisory team at City is led by Dr Beatriz Calvo-Merino and Sebastian Gaigg and includes members of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU).
The supervisor team at La Sapienza is led by Prof Matteo Candidi and Prof Salvatore Aglioti from The AgliotiLAB (SCNL - Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory).
Normally supervisors’ role and involvement will increase when performing research in their correspondent institution. Every year, one of the supervisors will take primary responsibility of mentoring the student when in their own institution. The second supervisor will lend subsidiary support.
Besides our MSc level courses the department also offers a number of advanced level training workshops for specific research methodological skills.
To foster our students’ academic and communication skills, students at City are required to attend a fortnightly research student seminar. Here they are expected to present their work at least once a year.
Students are also expected to be immersed in the wider research culture of the department and attend laboratory and departmental research. Students are also offered opportunities to acquire experience in teaching.
All teaching activities are supervised by a senior member of academic staff who provides guidance and feedback.
Outside the department, students are also encouraged to avail of opportunities to learn a foreign language through City’s Centre for Language Studies and to engage with the Researcher Skills Development programme offered by the City Doctoral College.
When based at La Sapienza students are also required to attend regular seminar, lab meetings and courses planned within the programme.
How to apply
To apply, you should submit the following documents
- Testimonials from at least two academic referees sent by email from an official work (not private) email account
- Copies of your degree transcripts and certificates (originals or certified copies). If your application is successful we will need to verify the original hard copies before a final offer is made
- Proof of your English language proficiency (if English is not your first language)
- A non-technical summary of the proposed research of no more than 400 words.
- Your research proposal concerning one of the Joint PhD research topics. Research topics suitable for this programme in Psychology and Social Neuroscience include:
- Sensorimotor encoding and expertise (mainly interested in visual and motor expertise -i.e. dancers)
- Neurocognitive mechanism of action and body processing in healthy, autism spectrum disorder and brain damage individuals.
- Neuroaesthetics (embodied aesthetics, decision making in aesthetics)
- Intention, action and emotion understanding
- Embodiment and agency in Immersive virtual reality
- Other topics in affective and social neuroscience can be discussed with the Joint PhD programme Directors Beatriz Calvo-Merino and Sebastian Gaigg (City) along with Salvatore Aglioti and Matteo Candidi (Sapienza).
See here for details on how to prepare your research proposal.
Please note that we will not consider incomplete applications.
Instructions to referees
Thank you for your contribution to our admissions process. In your testimonial, please focus your report on the following issues
- Give evidence of the applicant's capacity to undertake high quality research in psychology
- Explain any particular features of the applicant's prior training that you consider to be of particular importance
- Comment on the applicant's determination and motivation for studying for a research degree
- Indicate whether or not the applicant has discussed their research interests with you prior to applying to City
- Comment on the applicant's honesty and integrity.
See our full list of academic staff and potential supervisors in Department of Psychology.