Job Description:

Neuroscientists are researchers who study the brain and central nervous system.

Job Category:
Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences

What you will do:

Neuroscientists study the development and function of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerve cells throughout the body. You could specialise in one part of the nervous system, such as neurotransmitters, or focus your research on specific behaviours, such as psychiatric disorders.

Neuroscientists often work in laboratories in universities and industry. They communicate their research in peer-reviewed journals and local, national and international conferences.

The day-to-day nature of your work will depend on your employer, but may include:

  • drawing up research proposals and applying for funding
  • planning and carrying out experiments
  • keeping accurate records of results
  • analysing results and data
  • presenting findings in scientific journals, books or at conferences
  • teaching or lecturing


You’ll need:

  • a neuroscience or related undergraduate degree.
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • science skills
  • analytical thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal as well as written communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a neuroscientist, you typically need to pursue a strong educational foundation in science and mathematics during your high school years.  While specific requirements can vary depending on the university and program you’re interested in, here are some GCSE subjects that are generally recommended and can be helpful for aspiring neuroscientists:

  1. Biology: Biology is a fundamental subject for anyone interested in neuroscience, as it provides essential knowledge about living organisms, cells, and biological processes.
  2. Chemistry: Chemistry is another crucial subject, as it helps you understand the chemical processes that underlie many aspects of neuroscience, including neurotransmission and drug interactions.
  3. Physics: Physics can provide a strong foundation in understanding physical principles, which can be relevant to certain areas of neuroscience, such as neuroimaging techniques like MRI or the physics of brain function.
  4. Mathematics: A solid background in mathematics, especially in algebra, statistics, and calculus, is essential for understanding and conducting research in neuroscience.
  5. English: Strong communication skills are vital for any scientific career, so English or a similar language subject can help you develop your writing and presentation abilities.
  6. Additional Sciences: Depending on your school’s offerings and your interests, taking additional science subjects such as psychology or computer science can also be beneficial in preparing for a career in neuroscience.

Post School

To become a neuroscientist, you’ll likely need to:

  • Complete a neuroscience or related undergraduate degree. This will usually take 3 or 4 years. The qualification gained from the undergraduate degree is usually a Bachelor of Science with Honours [BSc (Hons)] but can also take the form of a Bachelor of Arts [BA], Master of Science [MSc] or Master of Biology [MBiol]
  • Complete postgraduate study. This could take the form of a master’s degree (a one-to-two-year taught programme), but more frequently means completing a PhD/doctorate. This will take 3 or 4 years and consist of your own research project under the supervision of an experienced research academic.

Working Hours and Environment:

In academia, hours are fairly standard at approximately 37 hours per week, usually from 9am to 5pm. You may sometimes be required to stay after hours or to go in at weekends to complete experiments, but most organisations offer flexible working arrangements to accommodate this.

If you’re based in industry, you may have to work to fit in with shift patterns and commercial deadlines.

Career Path & Progression:

Many science researchers aim towards the level of senior research fellow or professor, leading research teams. You can achieve this through successful research projects and publishing original, high-quality research.

You might also wish to consider a career in an industry such as the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, or Medical Devices Industries.  Another possibility is a move into media or communications. Public understanding of science is a topical growth area with many new opportunities, and jobs for writers with a scientific background are becoming more widespread.

Once you have experience, you might choose to become a consultant. You could become involved in the technical and commercial evaluation of new ideas, products, and technologies, providing scientific expertise to projects.