Research course

Visual Neuroscience

Cardiff University · School of Optometry and Vision Sciences

Entry requirements

Suitable for graduates in optometry, cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, biology, medicine or any relevant scientific discipline. A First or Upper Second class UK Honours degree, Masters degree, or equivalent is required.

Months of entry


Course content

About Research at the School

Research is currently aligned with four themes comprising Visual Neuroscience, Retinal Degeneration & Ageing, Structural Biophysics and Visual Rehabilitation. This breadth of research enables a truly multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to the investigation of vision and visual disorders. Students are drawn from a wide variety of scientific backgrounds, including Psychology, Physics, Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Zoology etc., as well as Optometry.

Special Features

  • International centre of excellence
  • Laboratory suites equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for cell and organ culture, histology, neuroscience, protein analysis, molecular biology, gene transfection, molecular genetics, absorption/emission spectroscopy, and microscopic imaging
  • Has made a number of novel discoveries in the context of this theme:
    • Identification of the gene responsible for the major form of optic atrophy
    • Lipofuscin is a photoinducible free radical generator that causes cell dysfunction
    • Matrix metalloproteinases are upregulated in the development of myopia in mammals and identification of a new member of the MMP family
    • Damage to the centrifugal visual system alters eye development and its retractive state, suggesting that the brain influences emmetropisation
  • Developed innovative experimental or genetic models for studying corneal transplantation, ocular development, glaucoma and optic atrophy, neural tracing, oxidative damage to the retina and a variety of eye diseases
  • Supported by grants from the MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR/NISCHR, EU, Medical Charities, Health Service and the private sector

Programme Description

A PhD by research at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is based around a specific, well-defined research topic. All students have regular meetings with their supervisory team, as well as an advisor who is not directly involved with the project, and is able to objectively monitor the progress of the research, and to provide independent guidance. In addition to the core research topic, the School provides a diverse programme of transferrable skills training, which complements the University Graduate College Programme.

Research Areas

  • Genetic models of eye disease
  • Understanding and preventing corneal dystrophies
  • Gene transfer
  • Structure of the optic nerve head in the healthy and glaucomatous eye
  • Pupillary, accommodative and eye movement disorders
  • Impact of neural plasticity on eye disease
  • Ageing and cell dysfunction
  • Oxidative damage and retinal dysfunction
  • Stem cell biology
  • Light damage to the eye
  • Mechanisms and prevention of neural cell death

Full details of this programme of study can be found on our website.

Information for international students

International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person. In addition, depending on the nature of the project, bench fees may be required.

Fees and funding

Researh Councils, charities, industrial sponsorship, Overseas Government Bodies and School studentships.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months


full time
24 months

Course contact details

Dr Jon Erichsen
+44 (0)29 2087 6163