Hi. I'm Elia and I'm studying at the Computational Neurosciences and Cognitive Robotics course here at the University of Birmingham.
My course is about as name says – Computational Neuroscience – so study mathematical models to understand the brain and describe the brain functioning, and of Cognitive Robotics – so try to research in robotics and train ourselves in like researching robotics, keeping in mind how the human brain works in order to try to find a parallel between these two disciplines.
What's special about my course is that I think it’s one of a kind in the UK in the sense that you can’t study the same things anywhere else, like you have lot of choice between courses from the Robotic Master and from the Master in Neuroscience and Psychology.
The course is structured having both lectures and work in the lab. So in the lecture we basically have provided with the tools to start working in the lab in the practical sense, and being a multidisciplinary course we also have a lot of seminars that we can attend within the Psychology department and the Computer Science department. We also have like lot of group work with assignments and the group work is really important for us to support each other, being quite intense course.
In the course we have access to a lot of facilities, and working in the lab we have access to the equipment of the lab. So for example, for me I'm working in this lab and in this lab we work with haptics and we’re working, for example, by using some kind of robot which are particular kind of robot called haptic devices. So in this lab particularly we can work, and I can work, using a delta device, a phantom device which are haptic devices that are able to deliver a force field back to the user and are really used also in gaming and visual reality.
We also have opportunity to work with these which are oculus rift glasses. By putting this on, participant can actually be transported to a virtual reality - virtual reality worlds. These are totally immersive glasses. We can actually deliver stimuli – sensory stimuli in this virtual world so that participant can react to the stimuli and we can record their behaviour and interpret the behaviour and their perception.
My advice to write a personal statement or complete an application for the University of Birmingham, and in particular for this course, is to be basically honest and say what you really can do without trying to show-off, because it’s a quite tough course. So it’s really important that you are prepared and you provide what you really can do before starting it. And also show how motivated you are in undertaking this course.