Student Profiles

My Cardiff Postgraduate Experience – Izzy, MSc Neuroimaging: Methods and Applications

Why did you choose to study a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University?

I chose Cardiff University for my studies for several reasons; the first was how great my experience had been during my Undergraduate Degree reading Neuroscience and the support I had received from the lecturers and PhD students in the School of Biosciences. The second was the course that was available, the specific focus on neuroimaging methods and applications was appealing to me as the practical experience and material I would learn would be transferable to a PhD. Finally, I also chose Cardiff for the excellent city and unlike most other Universities, is a cross between a campus and city university giving you all the experiences of having a city atmosphere whilst also having your lectures and laboratory experience in close proximity.

How was your experience as a postgraduate at Cardiff University, in terms of the programme?

The course has been a steep learning curve but has given me huge insight into the neuroimaging methods utilised in research. The ability to cover all of the techniques in the first semester allowed me to identify what areas that I wanted to specialise in and how I could tailor the applications aspect of the course to my own research interests.

First term was very physics heavy, having to learn many new concepts pushing me outside my comfort zone! It was fascinating to learn about new subjects specifically relating to my course and be able to spend time with similar minded people. Although I have found the first term the most challenging initially, my interest was ignited within the field and I learnt a lot.

The ability to choose your own essay topic as part of the Masters provided a great opportunity to follow your own research interests. I was able to focus on Semantic Memory in the first semester and then Theories of Autism and how we can use neuroimaging to support these in the second semester.

Overall, my course has opened a number of doors for scientific discovery and personal development and I have really enjoyed it.

How was your experience of living in Cardiff, in terms of the city, social life and accomadation, again specifically as a PG?

I’ve love living in Cardiff and have enjoyed my experience even more as a postgraduate. In this year I have moved away from the typically student related areas and have been able to feel far more like a resident in Cardiff than a student. This has been a great experience and with Cardiff being very well priced, I’ve got a lovely house with an affordable budget and made many new friends.

Socially there are also a huge number of things to do in Cardiff from pubs, clubs to more low key events including outdoor cinemas and lots of fitness related events including the Cardiff half marathon. There are so many opportunities within the city and places to explore that there is never a dull minute!

What was different about your postgraduate experience at Cardiff University compared to your previous degree?

One of the huge differences I have experienced is feeling more like an independent researcher; Lecturers treat you as equals and often hold journal clubs and practicals in smaller groups making you feel like move of an individual as opposed to just a number at undergraduate level.

My masters has also been far more individually motivated due to the fact the journal club discussions tend to outline topics and then a discussion is initiated allowing for individual opinion and critical analysis about particular aspects of research. Essays are also chosen by the student rather than having options presented by the lecturer, meaning the ability to explore topics of interest is more extensive than at Undergraduate.

How did you fund your postgraduate degree?

I’m lucky enough to be in the first intake of students who get postgraduate loans from England. This with the support of my parents enabled me to pursue postgraduate study.

How do you think that your postgraduate degree is helping prepare you for the future – job aspirations, career development, future study, etc?

My undergraduate degree was in Neuroscience so some of the topics have been the same in my Postgraduate degree but they have been more in depth, which has been really interesting.

Being based up at CUBRIC with world-leading researchers in the field has provided me with the opportunity to experience and get involved with some of their research, broadening the variety of skills and practical experiences learnt. My MSc has allowed me to be a strong candidate for PhD and research assistant positions due to the breadth of experience and knowledge gained, and as of October I shall be starting research for my PhD in Cardiff.