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Brain and Cognitive Sciences
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Lola Beerendonk (BSc in Liberal Arts and Sciences)

I started the research master Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 2015, right after graduating the interdisciplinary Natural and Social Sciences Bachelor (Bèta-Gamma), also at the University of Amsterdam.

I chose the Brain and Cognitive Sciences master because I felt that the programme was going to challenge me and that it would prepare me for a job as a researcher. In addition, I liked the interdisciplinarity of the programme as well as the backgrounds of students.

A tight-knit community

There are three things that I particularly like about the programme. Firstly, I really appreciated the atmosphere throughout the master. It appears that the programme is strongly aimed at creating a tight-knit community of students and the staff is also very involved and approachable. In my experience, students really support each other and work together, even though science can be quite competitive. Secondly, I really appreciate that the master offers the opportunity to decide on one’s own trajectory. Aside from the two introductory courses, one can (almost) freely pick the courses and internships that suits their interests and abilities. As a result, every student graduates the master with a personalised toolbox of skills and knowledge. Lastly, I appreciate that there’s so much time (and credits) reserved for doing (two!) internships in the programme. I have probably learned most from my internships: not only about designing experiments, collecting data and performing analyses, but also about my own research interests, abilities, and preferences. In addition, doing two (rather than one, which is often the case) internship allows one to experience working on different topics, techniques, research groups, and even cities (going abroad!). It broadens one’s network and the added practical experience appears to be greatly valued on the job and PhD market.

My PhD

I am now a PhD candidate at the Brain and Cognition Group of the University of Amsterdam. My promotor, whom I knew from one of my Bachelor courses, was also the supervisor of my second master internship. Although starting a PhD project can be quite overwhelming, I feel that I am well prepared through my self-devised master programme.