Master Program

The complete two-year program accounts for 120 ECTS credit points.

The next run will start in October every year (i.e. application deadline is 15 January every year).

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Overview of Modules

Module Title Components Examinations ECTS
M1.1 Nervous System: Structure, Function, and Development Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M1.2 Neurophysiology Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M1.3 Data and Statistics Lectures/Seminars, Practical Course Written Exam 5
M1.4 Critical Thinking Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M1.5 Lab Rotation 1 + Methods Lectures Lab Rotation, Lectures Lab Report, Online Exam 10
M2.1 Neuropathophysiology Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M2.2 Neurotransmitter Systems Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M2.3 Neuronal Systems Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M2.4 Clinical Neuroscience Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study Written Exam 5
M2.5 Lab Rotation 2 + Methods Lectures Lab Rotation, Lectures Lab Report, Online Exam 10
M3.1 Advanced Problems and Topics in Neuroscience Tackling a complex topic/issue Meetings with Supervisor, Review of content of Module M1.1, M1.2, M2.1, M2.2, M2.3 Online Exam 5
M3.2 Individual Focus Lectures/Seminars, Conferences, Workshops, Self Study --- 5
M3.3 Scientific Communication Lectures/Seminars, Journal Club, Self Study --- 5
M3.4 Experimental Design Meetings with Supervisor, Self Study Take Home Assignment (Project Proposal for MSc Thesis) 5
M3.5 Lab Rotation 3 + Methods Lectures Lab Rotation, Lectures Lab Report, Online Exam 10
M4 Master's Thesis Experiments, Thesis writing Thesis, Defense 30

Course of Studies

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Semester 1

Module 1.1 - Nervous System: Structure, Function, and Development

This module provides the basics on the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous system of different species, as well as its development and adaptations. On the microscopic level you will learn what cell types are present in the brain, what their respective roles are and what histological techniques enable investigation of the tissue. On the macroscopic level, you will be introduced to different neuronal networks, their relationships and functions. As part of this module you will gain hands-on experience in brain dissection.

Module 1.2 – Neurophysiology

With this module, you will be introduced the physiological processes of the nervous system. The aim is for you to understand the molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission and the various transmitter systems, to appreciate genotype-phenotype-relationships and to be introduced to the topic of synaptic plasticity.

Module 1.3 – Data and Statistics

The proper generation, handling and analysis of data is essential to all research, as is the skill of effectively communicating findings through talks, posters or publications. This module aims to introduce you to the basics of data acquisition and analysis with an emphasis on key statistical methods used by biologists. As part of the course, you will be trained in data presentation in how to critically assess data published by others. You will also receive hints and tips on how convert data electronically and how to produce useable data records. By the end of the module you should have a good understanding of the process from experimental design all the way through to data interpretation and you will be equipped to practice this in the lab during your rotations.

Module 1.4 – Critical Thinking in Translational Medicine

This module encourages critical reflection on translational research and increases awareness about possibilities as well as limitations in this field. It trains students in good scientific practice and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of our scientific system.

Module 1.5 – Lab Rotation 1 + Methods Lectures

During your Master's studies you will perform three lab rotations (Modules 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5). The aim is to give you first hands-on, in-depth experience in a lab. Module 1.5 will focus on reasoning, on the correct use of appropriate statistical tools and on data visualization. This connects the lab rotation directly to modules M1.3 and M1.4. Since you have to do three rotations in total, you need to change labs and methods from one rotation to the next. You are free to choose among all laboratories and methods offered at participating research groups in Berlin. Each lab rotation consists of 200 hours lab contact (i.e. 5 weeks full-time or 10 weeks part-time) and 40 hours for writing-up the lab report.
In parallel to your internship in the lab, weekly seminars will be held to provide the theoretical background of various experimental techniques used in the field of neuroscience. You will be taught the principles of various technologies, their application and their advantages and disadvantages. Your understanding of the experimental techniques covered in the lectures will be assessed through an exam at the end of the semester.

Semester 2

Module 2.1 – Neuropathophysiology

The central topic of this module is the changing brain. You will be provided with an overview of the disorders of the nervous system and will learn about the underlying mechanisms that cause them.

Module 2.2 – Neurotransmitter Systems: Pharmacology and Signal Transduction

The pharmacological targeting of the brain is based on signal transduction cascades and the metabolism of important neurotransmitter systems. In this module, basic pharmacological concepts such as pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will be covered, the regulatory function of the blood-brain-barrier will be presented and inter-species differences and their importance for translation will be discussed.

Module 2.3 – Neuronal Systems

This module provides insights into the anatomy and the physiology of selected neuronal systems, e.g. the visual system, the auditory system, the sensory system, the motor system. You will also be introduced to the topic of chronobiology, the function of the basal ganglia and regulatory systems of emotion.

Module 2.4 – Clinical Neuroscience

This module is devoted to the clinical manifestation of pathophysiological changes in the nervous system and the possibilities and limits of therapeutic interventions. Most of the lectures are given by active clinicians and, when possible illustrated by patient case reports. The translational principle of connecting basic science and clinical application previously covered in Module 1.4 — Critical Thinking in Translational Medicine — is deepened by discussing clinical studies, their framework and their limitations.

Module 2.5 – Lab rotation 2 + Methods Lectures

You will perform the second of your three lab internships during the second half of the second semester. As in Module 1.5, your internship will be complemented by a series of Methods lectures held weekly. For further details on the lab rotation and the Methods lecture series please refer to Module 1.5 (Lab rotation 1).

Semester 3

Module 3.1 Advanced Problems and Topics in Neuroscience

Recently published work as well as classical or historical articles from the past are used in this module to initiate a discussion. The aim is to apply the knowledge you acquired through past modules and to deepen your understanding of certain topics. You will learn how to critically evaluate primary literature, you will discuss the methodological approach, the experimental design and statistical analyses used. This module would best be described as a mixture between classical in front teaching and a moderated journal club.

Module 3.2 – Individual Focus

The aim of this module is for you to explore your own research interests and to focus on your personal career development. You can freely choose any course, lecture, seminar, symposium, journal club, summer school etc. related to neuroscience.
To complete this module you need to collect at least 5 ECTS credit points, not limited to semester 3. By definition, 1 ECTS credit points equals 30 hours of invested time including both the time spent in class (or conference or training etc., see below) and the estimated time for preparation or recapitulation of the course.

Time invested (h) / 30h = Amount of ECTS Credit Points

Participation in certified online courses (e.g. Coursera) is also accepted; however, only 2 ECTS can be gathered in this way. The cost of any elective you choose to attend must be covered by you. If you have a particular interest but cannot find a relevant course, you are encouraged to invite guest lecturers and the program office will support such initiatives by providing financial support.
Some regular events are credited with a fixed amount of ECTS credit points. In such case, the instructor together with the MedNeuro office estimate the expected time invested by the student and award ECTS credit points. All other events are calculated based on the table below. Please ask either the instructor of the course or us if you are unsure about the amount of ECTS credit points.

Module 3.3 – Scientific Communication

In this module, fundamental aspects and types of scientific communication are covered: giving talks, presenting posters, writing up theses. This involves layout and design of presentation slides, target audience and take-home message, time management as well as structure and layout of posters. As a preparation for writing up the master thesis the module particularly features the structure of a master thesis, timing, literature research, rules of citation, ground rules for scientific publications, advice and pitfalls for submitting manuscripts as well as their revision.

Module 3.4 – Experimental Design

This module combines practical lab work, academic and scientific knowledge with the abilities obtained in the soft skill courses. Based on the successful establishment of methods pivotal to the thesis, you will develop a thesis research plan in which you will present, defend and discuss in front of fellow students and faculty members. The completion of this module serves as direct preparation for the thesis project. Together with your future Master thesis supervisor, you will carefully develop a research project proposal including a hypothesis, experiments to be carried out and a detailed timeline.

Module 3.5 – Lab rotation 3 + Methods Lectures

You will perform the third of your three lab internships during the second half of the third semester. As in Module 1.5 and 2.5, your internship will be complemented by a series of lectures held weekly. For further details on the lab rotation and the Methods lecture series please refer to Module 1.5 (Lab rotation 1).

Semester 4

Module 4 – Master Thesis

The entire 4th semester is dedicated to the thesis, as outlined in the experimental design course, prompting students to pursue their own, supervised research project integrating gained knowledge and skills necessary for a future career in science. As with the lab rotations, it is your responsibility to approach faculty of your choice and to agree on a research project. It is quite common that theses develop from one of your rotations. A lab leader must sign a form indicating responsibility for it, although direct supervision can be delegated within the group. The thesis must be based on experiments carried out by you.