MSc Cognitive Neuropsychology

Dr. Michael Thomas

Dear Dr. Thomas,

Here is my application for the MSc. in Cognitive Neuropsychology; I enclose the completed post-graduate application form, evidence of my existing qualifications and my professional CV (for what it is worth.) References from my personal tutor and from a former colleague will follow. As you know, I am proposing to study full-time whilst still in the final year of my part-time BSc Psychology degree (also at Birkbeck). Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to outline why I believe undertaking both simultaneously fits perfectly with my aspirations and is within my capabilities.

Working in the city was challenging and financially rewarding but for some time I have found it neither ethically nor intellectually satisfying. With this in mind, I started a part-time degree in psychology at Birkbeck. It has been a superb experience and after 2 years I was convinced that I want to continue on into postgraduate studies & research when I graduate in 2005. In December, I quit my job to focus on this goal.

My ultimate aim is get onto a good PhD programme. I hope to research infant cognition using a combination of connectionist modelling techniques and real subjects. I want to look at the mechanisms underlying habituation and expectancy, that is, how habituation occurs rather than merely using it as an experimental paradigm. Of course, these aims and ambitions are the highly embryonic product of my current knowledge. I am currently working on my final-year undergraduate project, modelling certain aspects of this question. But I consider it essential to obtain a deeper & wider education before I am in a position to progress further. This course is best preparation I can find in London.

I am aware that the MSc is at level beyond the undergraduate studies I have undertaken so far but I welcome this opportunity and believe I am ready for it. In psychology, I have averaged a First in the last two years and expect to do as well in future. I know that my previous mathematics degree was only of grade II-B, but I do not consider this reflective of what I am capable of. Mathematics at Cambridge is a humbling experience; it throws sharp relief on the difference between an aptitude for the subject and a true talent. Aware that I lacked the latter, I was not interested and did not apply myself. Not a problem I have with psychology; In fact, one of my greatest distractions at Cambridge was running the university’s Cognitive Science seminar club for two years, arranging talks & presentations from a wide range of speakers. (Amongst them Horace Barlow, Simon Baron-Cohen, Patrick Bateson, Maggie Boden, Gabriel Horn, John O’Keefe & Annette Karmiloff-Smith.)

I am also confident about the extra burden of studying two courses simultaneously. Logistically, I am satisfied it is feasible. The BSc lectures are all in the evenings. The MSc has no teaching after Easter, so will not interfere with my BSc final examinations. Conversely these will be finished by early June leaving me several uninterrupted months to complete my MSc project. As mentioned above, I have already started my BSc final year project and this will be finished before next academic year begins.

This still amounts to 150% loading of study per week but I did well in the first two years of my BSc whilst simultaneously working full-time in a very demanding & high-pressure environment. I view this in a similar light. I have spoken to members of the teaching staff and a number of current and previous MSc students, so I realize that it will be very demanding. But for precisely this reason, I think it is the most worthwhile use of my time and I am very motivated to succeed.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Caspar Addyman


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