Interested in a post grad course in Neuropharmacology? Ronald Saraswat has you covered with the full run down as to what’s involved in an MSc. Neuropharmacology course at NUI Galway…

I am high on exam fever right now, and guess it’s exactly almost the right time for me to wonder that what really made me choose this program over plenty of other options worldwide and after actually going through it in last three months, is it still what I thought it to be?

The course

I was almost always intrigued about what science has to offer, it’s just not always what you study but the way you think which brings you to science. The natural world has always inspired me to explore and learn why and how the intricate interactions of non-animate things give birth to this wonder we know as reality and life. Most of all, I learnt later in life that it is our brain which makes us wonder the same and I built this strong liking to learn more about the most complex machinery known to man in the universe, the human brain!

Long story short, I went through a lot of research before arriving on Ireland as a study abroad destination (I have written about my experience in this country, and how it has treated me on my personal blog) but for this piece I’ll be focusing on my course, MSc in Neuropharmacology at NUIG.

The beginning

NUI Galway was established way back in 1845 and the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics here was incepted in 1974. The MSc in Neuropharmacology programme was initiated in 1998, to equip students with the latest in Neuroscience knowledge and research. It has been actively involved in the field of neuropharmacological research and, for a scientist, what’s better than being part of a historical institute which brings them close to real world scientific problems that are being worked currently.

It’s a one year program with three 4-month semesters, comprising of 90 ECTS in total. The starting of the first trimester is full of theoretical knowledge of basic and advanced aspects of neuropharmacology involving the Central Nervous System and related systems in the body; hands on practicals and projects involving presentations and posters are taught and students are guided through the field and encouraged to explore unbiased scientific critical thinking. The use of experimental design and statistics to neuropharmacological research and hands on tutorials of computer packages involved in data processing and presentation will bring you to a different understanding. Written, verbal and presentation skills are also enhanced through regular group based and individual efforts. Most of all, if you haven’t experienced a “real” research environment, you’ll do it here.

Fret not if you are new to a few of the concepts. It can get a bit tricky at times, as in my case, but the lecturers and guides provided are ample – enabling students to get through any difficulties you may face along the way.

First exams & second semester

Exams take place before the Christmas holidays and are based on theory and practical sessions that you attend during the semester, they can be online or written, and you get an insight of them during the pre-final activities and MCQs during the course work, The second semester will be more focused on the detailed knowledge of what you learn in the first semester and refer to more advanced aspects of pharmacology. It is also this time that you start to focus on your research project for the final trimester. Don’t forget to actually getting involved in the seminars that take place throughout the study year, it will help you to gain the latest insights in the field and decide what to focus on your energy on in the future.

What to expect

In the end, you’ll have to do a research project and for that you’ll have to write your own research thesis under the guidance of a professional, I still have to figure that out… The rest all depends on what you really want out of your study abroad experience, I managed to be part of many societies and clubs during my study time. It depends on your personal preferences but you’ll have to focus on the studies from the beginning to keep up with the workload as well! It’s all just a balance and it might be difficult in the initial days for some to adjust in, but with an International crowd it’s totally a different experience.

All in all, it has been a brilliant experience for me and while I prepare for my exams and write this for you to read, right now am very much firm that my decision to join this program is worth it. After coming here it feels am part of a bigger scientific community that is helping the world to make a better place and It has been a brilliant experience as of now in this beautiful country and hope it will be the same for you as well. Rest there’s still a lot for me to explore and I wish I achieve what I look forward for in the scientific community and in turn for the world.