Credit points / Acknowledgement of participation in courses given in "Semesterwochenstunden (SWS)" (hours per week per term):

Finishing my PhD:


Is attendance of the lecture course "From Molecules to Cognition" compulsory?

For PhD students, it is not compulsory to attend this lecture course although the IGSN does recommend that you attend. However, passing the examination to the lecture course (at the end of the first semester) is obligatory. Without passing this examination a PhD in Neuroscience cannot be received. Students attending the preparatory (Bsc-PhD) year are obliged to attend the lecture course.

Can I choose which laboratory rotations I attend in the first semester?

Of course. Those students, who already know which field they would like to work in, can opt to do laboratory rotations with potential PhD supervisors who work in these areas. The IGSN director, can also advise as to which laboratories could come into question. The purpose of the laboratory rotations is to give the incoming students the best possible opportunity to select the PhD project they would like to conduct.

Can my PhD programme be individualised?

At the IGSN we consider individualisation of the PhD curriculum of the students to be extremely important. The methods courses, practical courses, seminars, lab rotations attended by the students are tailored exactly to their interests and needs.

Certain aspects of the curriculum (lecture course "From Molecules to Cognition", IGSN symposia) are designed to broaden the knowledge of all students and attendance is recommended, however, to a large extent the students can also choose which components of these events they attend.

Is attendance at IGSN symposia and colloquia compulsory?

Seven of the twelve yearly IGSN symposia must be attended by the students. Attendance at the colloquia is voluntary.



What exams must I pass during my PhD programme?

You must pass four examinations during the IGSN PhD programme to succeed in your PhD. The first examination you will attend is the exam to the lecture course "From Molecules to Cognition", this happens at the end of the first semester.

The second exam occurs in June of the second semester. Here you are expected to submit a fictitious grant proposal based on your PhD project and to give an oral presentation on the proposal followed by a discussion with IGSN members. The third exam occurs in June of the fourth semester and comprises an oral presentation of a progress report with regard to your PhD followed by a discussion with IGSN members.

Of course, after having submitted your PhD thesis after 6 semesters, you will participate in a thesis defence which comprises a talk of about 30min duration and a discussion of ca. 60 min with your examiners.

What grade do I need to reach in order to pass the lecture course examination?

Both IGSN-Students of the PhD-programme, as well as IGSN-Students conducting the graduation year of the BSc-PhD-programme need to achieve an overall grade of 50 %.

What happens if I fail the lecture course examination?

You will be given one chance to resit the exam, if you fail this second time you will be invited to an oral examination held by the IGSN Studies Commission and Directorate.

What happens if I fail the PhD proposal examination?

Here you will be notified that you must resit the examination three months after the first examination (usually in September). Exactly the same structure to the examination will be followed. However, beforehand you will be asked to submit a 10 page report on the progress you have been making in your PhD research.

The presentation and the report will be evaluated by members of the Studies Commission and Executive Board. If you pass the examination your membership of the IGSN will continued. If you fail the examination your membership of the IGSN (and in the case of scholarship recipients) your funding will be stopped by September 30th of the year in which the examination occurred. This decision cannot be appealed and is irrevocable.

What happens if I fail the progress report examination?

Exactly the same procedure will be followed as for failure of the first PhD proposal examination (described above).


Credit points / Acknowledgement of participation in courses given in "Semesterwochenstunden (SWS)" (hours per week per term):

In order to have credit points / SWS assigned for lectures, symposia, seminars attended do I have to provide proof of attendance?

Yes. For events within the IGSN an attendance sheet will always be available which you should sign. If you attend events outside the IGSN you must acquire the signature of either an IGSN member who was present at the presentation or the speaker themselves to prove you attended (the easiest is to have the flyer or announcement sheet of the presentation signed).

For attendance at the journal club meetings held by the lab of your supervisor it is enough to obtain one letter of confirmation, at the end of the semester, from your supervisor to prove you took part.

Do I have to keep all the attendance documentation myself until the end of the 6th semester or can I submit them in advance for credit point / SWS recognition?

You can at any time bring your attendance documentation to the IGSN administration offices to have attendances recognised in credit points / SWS. The IGSN has a database for each IGSN student into which credit points / SWS are entered. You can ask for a print-out of your credit point / SWS status at any time.

How do I prove participation at methods or practical courses?

A statement of conformation of attendance/participation from the host of the course will suffice.

Can I have credit points / SWS assigned to me for events where I cannot prove attendance/participation?


Are credit points / SWS assigned for conference participation?

For active conference participation (talks, posters etc.) two credit points will be assigned.


Finishing my PhD:

If I haven't finished my PhD within 6 semesters can I still obtain a PhD in Neuroscience?

The IGSN strongly recommend that its students finish their PhD by the end of the 6th semester. However, no measures are currently in place to exclude students who take longer to obtain a PhD.

If I want to finish my PhD by the end of the 6th semester (i.e. end of my three year programme) when should I submit my thesis?

If you wish to hold your doctoral defence in the last week of September in the third year of your studies you need to bear in mind that your thesis will have to be submitted at least 3 months beforehand in order to permit the evaluation process to occur.

The first step in the evaluation process is for the PhD Committee to meet to assess if your thesis and participation in the IGSN curriculum meets the requirements of the IGSN. If this is the case, the PhD Committee will nominate a PhD commission that will be responsible for the evaluation of your thesis. Typically you will have three referees - your first and second supervisor, as well as an external supervisor who will be selected from the scientific community outside Germany.

Thus, before your thesis can be sent for evaluation the PhD Commission will need to ascertain if the chosen referees will agree to act as evaluators. At this point the thesis will be sent for assessment. The evaluators usually have 4 weeks time to assess your thesis. Your PhD defence will follow within 3 months of your thesis submission. The thesis submission deadlines of the IGSN are March 30, July 30, September 30 and December 30 of any given year.

What you must also bear in mind is that those of you who wish to submit a cumulative thesis must submit an application in writing to the PhD Committee for this in advance (i.e before you begin the final writing of your thesis). The PhD Committee will decide if your publications will suffice for a cumulative thesis. Usually only first author publications can be considered for a cumulative thesis. This should be done at least 3 months before you plan to submit your thesis.

Before your thesis can be considered by the PhD Committee, you must provide documentation that you have fulfilled all of the course requirements of the IGSN. This documentation will be evaluated by the PhD Committee - if you have not met all of the course requirements, the processing of your thesis will be delayed until the requirements have been met. Thus the IGSN advises you to start checking your accumulated credit points as early as possible in your graduation year. If you have queries please address them to the IGSN coordinator.

Please also bear in mind that, for those of you who receive a scholarship by the IGSN, the IGSN is not permitted to finance these scholarships beyond (September 30th of) the third year of your funding (i.e. you may receive 36 months scholarship). Our hands are completely tied in this matter - we have no possibility to fund extensions.

What is the difference between a narrative and cumulative thesis?

If you have published several first author publications during your PhD you may apply in writing to the PhD Committee for permission to submit a cumulative thesis. Only publications from your PhD work can be considered. Here, a general introduction and a general discussion is written for the thesis, and the publications are bound within the thesis.

In a narrative thesis all of the PhD data are compiled into a single work with introduction, methods, results, discussion and bibliography sections.

What does the IGSN do against plagiarism?

In accordance with the IGSN's high scientific standards, all PhD thesis are thoroughly checked for evidence of plagiarism.
This is initially done by the first supervisor, then after thesis submission by the IGSN with the use of special software.
The IGSN will not hesitate to take the appropriate action in case of any discrepancies coming to light.