The first year of a four-year programme leading to a PhD. Gain research training at the interface between social, genetic and developmental psychiatry and within an ethos of interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Tailored to facilitate your learning objectives in relation to statistics and core research areas.
- Large number of internationally-rated researchers create a highly interdisciplinary environment.
- Opportunities to develop and pursue your own research from the beginning of the programme.
- Modern, state-of-the-art DNA banking, extraction and genotyping facilities.
Students are aiming at a PhD programme in Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry. This unique programme provides graduates of the 1+3 programme with training for a career in academia specialising in research into the social, genetic and developmental aspects of psychiatric illness and careers in industry.
Dr Jonna Kuntsi
King's College London
Credit value (UK/ECTS equivalent)
UK 180/ECTS 90
One year FT, September to September. Upon successful completion of the MSc, students will be expected to register for MPhil/PhD, which will last another three years.
Denmark Hill Campus.
Year of entry 2013
Institute of Psychiatry
MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre
Monday 14 January 2013
FT Home: £6,500 (2013)
FT Overseas: £22,000 (2013)
SGDP Programme Administrator, Julia Wootley. Telephone: 020 7848 0819
To develop knowledge and skills in interdisciplinary research methods by investigating the effects and interplay of genes, development and the environment in complex psychiatric phenomena. To develop an awareness of the practical and ethical issues related to research, and the transferable skills and knowledge needed for a career in academia or industry. To use the MSc to prepare for a PhD in the discipline.
Designed as the first year of a four-year programme leading to a PhD, the programme provides research training at the interface between social, genetic and developmental psychiatry and promotes an ethos of interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Training is tailored to your needs and designed to facilitate your individual learning objectives in relation to statistics and the core research areas. You will have tutorials from leading experts in the six key areas: quantitative genetics, molecular genetics and epigenetics, developmental psychology, social psychology, psychopathology and statistical genetics.
Core programme content
- Developmental Psychology
- Molecular Genetics & Epigenetics
- Quantitative Genetics
- Social Psychology
- Statistical Genetics
- 10,000 word dissertation.
FORMAT AND ASSESSMENT
Tutorials; essay writing; statistics assignment; research dissertation; oral presentation. Half of the time is spent on research in collaboration with supervisor.
More information on typical programme modules.
NB it cannot be guaranteed that all modules are offered in any particular academic year.
The lectures and discussions for this module cover issues in developmental psychology, including the importance of developmental approaches to psychopathology, methodological challenges, mapping different levels of explanation (brain, cognition, behaviour), and key debates in the study of typical and atypical development. These issues are illustrated with research in progress at SGDP Centre. The overarching goal is to raise awareness of the issues/concerns with developmental processes as they relate to the substantive areas of the students' interest. Individual assignments are set for each student. The module is usually covered in two or three group meetings and meetings with individuals will take place as they make progress on these assignments.
This module is designed to bring all students up to a basic level of understanding of the nature of genes and their mechanisms of action. The module will be split into two sections, the first covering molecular genetics, and the second introducing students to the role of epigenetic factors in complex disease.
The Molecular Genetics section covers the structure of DNA, the organisation of the human genome and human (and other) genome projects. It explores the intron/exon mosaic structure of coding information and the mechanisms of transcription and gene control. From this basic level, the module examines the techniques involved in mapping and characterising loci implicated in multi-factorial disorders and behaviours.
The Epigenetics section will introduce students to the role of epigenetic modifications in mediating gene expression and the role these processes may play in complex disease phenotypes. Students will be be given an introduction to DNA methylation and histone modifications, and learn about basic epigenetic processes including genomic imprinting and X-inactivation. The dynamic nature of the epigenome will be discussed, with a particular focus on the role that the environment can have in mediating epigenetic changes. The relevance of epigenetic dysfunction to the non-Mendelian aspects of complex psychiatric disorders will be discussed, and students will be given an introduction to the methods used to assess epigenetic modifications at a molecular level.
Each student is assigned a key paper or a pair of key papers from the reading list. Students prepare a talk in which they present and critically discuss the contents. Each presentation is followed by questions from the other students and the tutor followed by a general discussion. The last session is devoted to viewing video clips of patients with a variety of psychopathologies and focused on the rudiments of mental state examination. The module takes around four meetings, each lasting approximately an hour and a half.
This module covers the history and major methods of quantitative genetics and usually comprises four group meetings followed by individual meetings with each student in relation to their essays and other issues.
The overall purpose of this module is to familiarise students with key principles, findings and research strategies relevant for studying psychosocial influences on behavioural development and on psychopathology. In addition, students will be helped to learn how to evaluate and present scientific papers relevant to social development. The module consists of five sessions, each session scheduled for two hours.
Meeting 1: Students summarise their experience in social development and the work in which they are currently engaged or hope to be engaged. One purpose of this is to give the tutor a sense of how best to structure the remaining sessions in terms of content coverage. This is then followed by the tutor presenting an overview of some of the key principles and findings in the field of social development as a whole.
Meeting 2: A presentation by the tutor on what is meant by a natural experiment and how the broad range of natural experiments may be used in order to gain purchase on testing hypotheses about environmental mediation.
Meeting 3: The third session will include a presentation on both the strategies for studying gene x environment interaction and in understanding their biological implications.
Meeting 4: This session pairs of students present an allocated paper in order to bring out why it is interesting, what are its positive features and what are the limitations that need to be considered.
Meeting 5: The final session involves a presentation on some of the key statistical issues that are relevant to the study of social development.
As with other modules, the assessment of this module is in the form of a written essay. For this module however, each student is allowed to choose his/her own topic provided that this is first checked with the tutor to ensure that it is within the scope of social development. Guidance is provided on what is expected of the essay.
The module is divided into two parts: (I) Basic statistics and Behaviour Genetics; (II) Statistical Genetics. In Part I students are given the opportunity to refresh their knowledge of some basic statistical concepts and are introduced to the basic concepts of Behaviour Genetics (mainly the Classical Twin Methodology) and the assumptions. Other statistical topics that are addressed are the basic principles of Path Analysis, Structural Equation Modelling, Analysis of continuous Twin data and Analysis of ordinal Twin data. In Part II students are introduced to the basic concepts of Statistical Genetics . The course covers methods to identify the genetic contribution to psychiatric disorders and behavioural traits. Students will learn the basics of linkage, association and sequence data, focusing on the design and analysis of genome-wide association studies. Students will choose a single assessment project from either behaviour genetics or statistical genetics, which will involve applying the learned skills to perform simple analyses on example data or a literature review. The module comprises of four lectures, each lasting approximately two hours.
ACADEMIC ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
General entry advice
Minimum 2:1 (or overseas equivalent) first degree in behavioural, biological or mathematical sciences, or an appropriate qualification in medicine or an appropriate professional qualification.
APPLYING TO KING'S
To apply for graduate study at King's you will need to complete our graduate online application form. Applying online makes applying easier and quicker for you, and means we can receive your application faster and more securely.
King's does not normally accept paper copies of the graduate application form as applications must be made online. However, if you are unable to access the online graduate application form, please contact the relevant admissions/School Office at King's for advice.
On the online application form, please select "Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc (Full-time)" from the programme list. You are not required to fill in the Research Proposal box at this time. You MUST include the following in your application:
- Why you want to take the four-year interdisciplinary course at the SGDP
- Your research interests
- Whether you are eligible for a Research Council studentship. If you are only eligible for "fees-only support", it is still worth applying as the department sometimes has other forms of funding. Please clearly state your eligibility. The eligibility requirements are here: www.mrc.ac.uk/Fundingopportunities/Applicanthandbook/Studentships/Eligibility/index.htm
- Confirm that your two academic referees are aware that you are applying for a four-year interdisciplinary course which includes a taught MSc component in the first year. For those who are not eligible for an RC studentship, we will consider applications only if you are able to obtain funding in the form of fellowships or sponsorship from other funding bodies.
PERSONAL STATEMENT & SUPPORTING INFORMATION
In the personal statement, please indicate why you have chosen to study this programme and particularly why you have chosen the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre. You can use the 'supporting information' section to answer the questions above which MUST be addressed in your application.
The majority of students are funded from the MRC, but many others find funding from grants or other research councils.
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc
After working as a psychiatrist for nearly ten years, I felt a need to increase my knowledge in order to better help people with mental illness. I decided that conducting research in order to solve clinical problems would be the best way to attain this goal. I knew that a number of senior psychiatrists in Taiwan had completed their PhD at the IoP and enjoyed a successful academic career afterwards so I decided that this was the place for me. As I am particularly interested in genetic study, I decided to pursue the 1 +3 programme in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry department (SGDP).
The SGDP provides a variety of teaching and research activities for staff and students which has really helped me to progress in my study. I would say the best thing about the SGDP is my supervisors - they are always encouraging and helpful, instilling hope and confidence even at times when I feel I am struggling.
After finishing my PhD study, I hope to become a physician scientist in my hospital so I can spend more time on research. I also hope to keep connection with the staff in SGDP so we can collaborate on various projects.
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc
Having completed an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, I was looking for PhD opportunities in London. The reputation of the Institute of Psychiatry as a world centre for psychiatric research attracted me to it, particularly the interdisciplinary 1+3 programme at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre. During the first year I broadened my outlook and gained valuable research experience, and I now have a sense of direction and confidence embarking on my three-year PhD.
The atmosphere at the SGDP Centre is a key part of the success of its students. Students are not isolated in small research groups, but mix with students across disciplines. This large social network is unique, and creates a dynamic, sociable atmosphere where students are supportive of each other rather than competitive.
As well as departmental seminars and talks, I am extremely fortunate to have access to the network of developmental cognitive neuroscientists across London. My supervisors’ impressive network of contacts has already afforded me the opportunity to collaborate on a functional imaging project with scientists from UCL.
The Institute of Psychiatry is located just 15 minutes from London Bridge, and 10 minutes from Victoria by train. The SGDP building itself was constructed recently and is extremely spacious and bright, with ‘interactive areas’ on each floor where students eat lunch and chat. Being in London means there are always opportunities for seeing new sights or going to new places.
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc
I had a great experience with several internships at the SGDP prior to applying for the 1+3 programme. These were split across several different research groups and included patient recruitment, lab work (genetics, epigenetics, and proteomics), and statistical analysis. I really enjoyed being involved in these varied projects and that they were all taking place under the same roof, in dialogue with each other.
What really stands out at the SGDP is the social and collaborative atmosphere, which occurs on many levels. Students take classes together in their first year and all have offices on the same floor, which makes it a very social and friendly place to study. It also means that students researching different areas of psychiatry, psychology, neuroimaging, and genetics are in constant contact, which helps to broaden your exposure to research without it seeming forced. Students and staff alike are always keen to get involved in collaborative projects, whether small or large, allowing students to explore areas of interest outside those strictly relevant to their PhD. The PhD itself is usually very independent, driven by the student's own ideas and interests. Lastly, the collaboration often extends beyond the Centre, allowing for research and conference opportunities abroad. All in all, it's a great place to work!
There seem to be lots of opportunities for students after they graduate. Originally I was keen to go into business, specifically pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, however after enjoying my PhD experience so much I'm now considering a more academic route. So I'll probably apply for fellowships and post-docs after my PhD.
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc
My BSc training in Experimental Psychology, MSc training in Psychological Research Methods and applied work experience inspired me to carry out research in the field of atypical development and its associated disorders. Studying at the SGDP centre has given me the opportunity to understand the influence of nature-nurture interactions on such complex disorders, placing me in an excellent position to work collaboratively within the interdisciplinary environment at the centre.
The MSc year covers a broad range of subjects from statistical genetics to psychopathology, taught by leading researchers in the field. The environment at the SGDP centre provides me with the resources to explore the pathways between cognitive processes and psychiatric disorders using a range of techniques including electroencephalography (EEG). Another key feature of the SGDP is its link to the Maudsley Hospital, which enables students to access patient groups for research.
As a student at the IoP I have access to numerous departmental seminars and talks delivered by experts in the field and the wide ranging research projects and data-sets held at the Institute have afforded me the opportunity to work in diverse research areas. Alongside my main PhD project for example, I’ve been able to work on a longitudinal study of medication effects in adult ADHD.
After my PhD I would like to gain a post-doctoral position in a related field and continue a career in research.
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MSc
At the MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP) we run a unique four-year PhD training programme, which includes a taught component in the first year (after which an MSc is awarded). The training that the students receive as part of this programme strongly reflects the interdisciplinary, collaborative approach of the Centre that covers genetic, epigenetic, social, developmental and cognitive approaches to psychiatry and psychology. The students benefit from the Centre’s cutting-edge research facilities that include extensive modern laboratories with state-of-the art genomics equipment, an EEG laboratory, bioinformatics resources, and a high-powered computing cluster.
Research at the Centre focuses on complex behavioural disorders and dimensions, such as antisocial behaviour, anxiety, autism, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disorders. My own research illustrates the opportunities that arise in such a unique, collaborative environment, in that we have been able to combine quantitative genetic, molecular genetic, cognitive, electrophysiological, fMRI and developmental approaches to studying intermediate phenotypes and developmental pathways in ADHD and co-occurring disorders from childhood to adulthood. We study both ADHD as a clinical diagnosis and ADHD symptoms in population samples. I collaborate closely with several Centre colleagues – for example with Professor Philip Asherson, who brings expertise on clinical and genetic aspects of ADHD; with Dr Fruhling Rijsdijk, who brings expertise on statistical genetics; and with Dr Grainne McLoughlin, who brings expertise on electrophysiological research on ADHD and other developmental disorders.
The SGDP Centre was described in the RAE 2008 as providing a "world leading" environment for research, and we work hard to ensure that our students fully benefit from this unique environment throughout their training.