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European Universities to Help Shape Continuous Master’s/PhD Track at HSE

European Universities to Help Shape Continuous Master’s/PhD Track at HSE

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In the 2020-2021 academic year, students of the HSE Master's Programme ‘Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: from Neuron to Cognition’ will be able to additionally apply for a continuous Master’s/PhD track. Studying in a single programme, they will participate in the international project iBRAIN, organized by leading European universities.

Why Is It Important?

The new continuous Master’s/PhD track will be one of the promising areas for future scientists and scholars at HSE University. It will allow master’s students to work closely with HSE doctoral schools, devoting more time to research and contributing to breakthroughs in their fields. As Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov said at a meeting of the HSE Academic Council, the continuous track ‘will allow us to create tangible incentives that will keep our talented students from pursuing doctoral degrees at foreign universities and attract talented students from other universities to come here.’

Sharing Experience

Already in the new academic year, this idea will be made a reality in HSE master's programme ‘Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: from Neuron to Cognition’ with the support of European universities.

As part of an international consortium of universities and research institutes that was awarded a grant from the European Erasmus+ Programme, HSE University joined the iBRAIN project, otherwise known as the Integrated Track in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Some members of the consortium will share their experience with implementing dual master’s/PhD programmes, while others will learn.

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Scientists from the École normale supérieure (ENS, Paris), the University of Aarhus (Denmark), and the University of Northumbria (Great Britain) will serve as mentors. In addition to HSE, St. Petersburg State University and the University of Hyderabad (India) will also be updating the curricula of their master’s and doctoral programmes in cognitive neuroscience. The Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (India), both of which currently do not offer master’s programmes, will upgrade their doctoral programmes in cognitive psychology and neurobiology.

The universities and research institutes of the consortium already have experience in joint research and teaching, including postgraduate education. Boris Gutkin, Professor at ENS, will serve as iBRAIN Project Manager. Since 2013, he has also worked at HSE where he leads a mathematical modeling group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and teaches in the master’s programme.

What Will Be Done at HSE?

Using expertise gained from its participation in the consortium, HSE University will modernize the curriculum of the English-language master's programme ‘Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: from Neuron to Cognition’. For programme graduates who pursue the continuous track (the admissions to which will be conducted in December of this year), the doctoral programme will also be updated.

A primary task will be putting more emphasis on student research—master’s students will conduct research that they can continue at the doctoral level and use in their dissertation work. All students will enjoy more mobility programme opportunities (with internships ranging from 2 weeks to 3 months in length) and be able to take courses at partner universities. An intensive summer school will be held every year, devoted to the in-depth study of neuroscience methods.

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The industrial partners of the project in Russia, Neurotrend and Fusion, will help in providing internships, evaluating the design work of students, and helping students develop important skills for careers in research and neurotechnologies.

According to Oksana Zinchenko, Academic Supervisor of the ‘Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: from Neuron to Cognition’ Programme, all this will lead to an increased interest among master’s students in not only conducting research, but pursing doctoral studies as well.

What Will the Results Be?

‘The number of master's theses defended in the field of high technology, including cognitive sciences, is steadily decreasing. A single master’s/PhD gateway track will help change this. Students who choose it will prepare high-quality publications on empirical research in foreign journals and go on to earn PhDs,’ said Oksana Zinchenko. ‘This will make them competitive on the scientific labour market.’

Thanks to the iBRAIN project, the quality of teachers' work will also improve: they will be able to improve their qualifications by cooperating with partner institutes and universities both nationally and internationally. They will also be able to complete internships abroad.

The HSE psychologists’ participation in the project will also likely inform and enhance the development of master’s/PhD tracks in other graduate programmes at HSE. They will be able to advise colleagues not only at HSE, but other Russian universities as well.

In addition, the iBRAIN Project will promote research and development in neurobiology and neurotechnology, which are the focus of the national technological initiative, Neuronet.

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