Degree Requirements - Ph.D. in Neuroscience

The requirements for a PhD degree will include:

• Research thesis
• Comprehensive examination in Neuroscience (Neuroscience 600)

Course requirements
• Principles of Neuroscience (Neuroscience 9500): students will be required to enroll in this course at the beginning of   their full-time enrolment
• Perspectives in Neuroscience (Neuroscience 9510): students will be required to enroll in this course in each academic   year of their full-time enrolment
• Research Proposals (Neuroscience 9602, 9603): one in thesis area; the second one an expanded and more    in- depth version of the first grant, based on an CIHR grant application
• Additional courses as required by the student's Advisory Committee to prepare the   student for the comprehensive   examination and/or to provide background for the student's particular area of research.

Comprehensive Examination
The comprehensive examination must be undertaken within the eighteen months of registration in the Ph.D. program. The scope and subject area of the comprehensive examination are suggested by the student and supervisor. In general, four areas of neuroscience, relating broadly to the student's thesis research, are covered. The suggested topics are submitted, in writing, by the student and supervisor to the Advisory Committee which further defines the examination content. The topics should be specified in sufficient detail appropriate for the Ph.D. level. For example, "cellular biology" would not provide sufficient detail; "cell-cell interactions" would provide sufficient detail. These topics are submitted, in writing, to the Course Manager for the Ph.D. comprehensive course who then presents them for discussion and approval to the Program Committee. Examiners, who may be suggested by the student, supervisor or Advisory Committee, are approved by the Program Committee. The student is informed of the areas and examiners which have been identified at least four weeks prior to the examination. Students should arrange to meet frequently with each examiner to discuss readings and areas which should be concentrated on for the examination.

The examination is administered by an examination committee consisting of a Chair appointed by the Program Committee and four examiners. Members of the Advisory Committee, excluding the supervisor, and extra-departmental faculty may serve on the examination committee. Details of the conduct of the exam are contained in a document called "Oral comprehensive examination for the Ph.D. Procedures for the conduct of the examination".

The examination consists of a written component and an oral component. The student is expected to be able to recall facts, recognize general concepts, use new information to solve novel problems, be aware of the historical development of the subdiscipline, and be familiar with the current research methods in his/her own related fields.

The oral component of the examination is normally taken approximately one week before the written component. The candidate is normally informed of the composition of the examining committee at least four weeks prior to the oral examination. The duration of the oral examination is usually about two hours. Only members of the examination committee can ask questions; other faculty can attend but do not participate. At the conclusion of the oral examination, the examinee leaves the room and then the chair invites discussion of the candidate's performance prior to calling for a vote. Pass or fail votes are collected by written ballot from members of the examination committee, with the majority opinion determining the result. The chair votes only in the event of a tie. At the conclusion of the examination, the chair verbally informs the student of the outcome and transmits any comments the examiners might suggest. The student is also provided with a letter from the chair of the examining committee stating the results of the examination and, where appropriate, comments on his/her performance.

The written examination consists of at least four principal questions prepared by the examination committee and approved by the Program Committee. The student will generally be given a choice within the principal questions. The examination will last four hours. Each question is graded by at least two faculty members. To pass the written component of the examination, an overall grade of "B" (70%) is required.

A student is permitted two attempts at the oral examination but only one attempt at the written component. If unsuccessful the student will meet with the Advisory Committee to determine a course of action, which normally would involve withdrawal from the graduate program.

Program Thesis Examination
This examination is required by the Neuroscience Program before the thesis is sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for the Senate Examination. The examination is conducted by the candidate's Advisory Committee, with the supervisor or Program representative as the chairperson. The Advisory Committee can request that additional program faculty members serve on the examination committee. The examiners will make suggestions for improvement and corrections of the thesis.

Students may not submit their theses for defense prior to the completion of all of the above academic requirements. Assuming minimal revisions of the PhD thesis draft, the student should allow 3 weeks for the Program thesis examination, and 7 weeks for scheduling the Senate PhD examination from the time of submission.

Preparation of Thesis
Students should consult the Guide for the Preparation of Thesis, published by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, for criteria and specifications. Basically, there are three procedural steps for thesis submission:

1. Submission of the thesis for examination. Doctoral candidates are required to submit to the Faculty of Graduate Studies the original and four copies of their thesis for examination, with a completed Thesis Submission Form. Master's candidates submit to the Program Office the original and three copies of their thesis for examination.

2. Oral examination. For the M.Sc. degree oral examinations are arranged by the Program; the Faculty of Graduate Studies makes the arrangements for the Ph.D. orals.

3. Submission of the thesis for acceptance as partial fulfillment of graduation requirements. Candidates for master's and doctoral degrees who have successfully completed their oral examinations and who have made all required revisions to their theses must submit the original and two copies to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Students will be required to pay a cost-recovery fee for the binding and microfilming of theses, as follows:

Microfiche for deposit in the National Library (Ph.D. Thesis only), registration with international abstracting service, and binding of 1 official copy for Weldon Library - approximately $107.00

Binding of personal copies for the student - $28.00/copy

(An additional copy of each thesis will continue to be required of each student for the Program but the $20.00 cost of binding will, as is now the case, be charged to the Program.)

A new guide for the preparation of theses may be obtained from the web site of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the following location: One notable change is that theses copies submitted for examination purposes may now be double-sided. The final copies must still be single-sided. Students will be required to
pay the cost-recovery fee for the binding and microfilming of theses. The current fees are available from the Program office.

Residency Requirement
The median duration of the PhD program is five years. The minimum residency requirement is 9 terms (three years).




Contact Us

Susanne Schmid, Ph.D. Co-Director
Stefan Köhler, Ph.D. Co-Director

Program Coordinator
Susan Simpson

T (519) 661-4039
F (519) 661-4153

Western University
Robarts Research Institute, RRI 5260a
1151 Richmond Street North
London, Ontario, CANADA N6A 5B7

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 3:00 pm

Areas of Research

Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience
Computational Neuroscience
Neural Substrates of Behaviour

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