BEng Neural Engineering with Psychology

Overview

How can the human nervous system control a bionic prosthesis? How can we use engineering to develop treatments for nervous system conditions? Can we tap into and stimulate the brain to augment people’s cognitive abilities? Neural Engineering is an emerging area of Biomedical Engineering that uses engineering, maths, biophysics, computer science and psychology to develop treatment for neurological disorders and create innovative interfaces between the brain and computers.

We will equip you with the skills and knowledge to be a leader in the development of novel technologies for the rapidly expanding neural engineering industry, building systems that can change people’s lives. You will be taught in a collaboration with the Department of Psychology, which will give you a foundation in the cognitive processes within the human brain.

Our BEng Neural Engineering with Psychology will cover the following areas:

  • Brain-computer and neural interfaces
  • Analysis and classification of neural signals
  • Brain-activity recording (neuroimaging) and simulation technologies
  • Human experimentation
  • Brain and behaviour
  • Neuroscience
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. We are home to many of the world’s top engineers, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination, as well as technical excellence. You graduate as a creative, experimental and focused engineer ready to explore further how engineering can impact the people and world around you.

Programming at Essex

Teaching someone to programme is about opening a door. In your first year at Essex you will study a module that introduces you to programming using Python. We assess your ability to think in a programmatic way in the very first week of term and if you require additional support, we offer classes which will boost your skills and confidence with programming.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university.

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement with an external organisation, as part of one of our placement year degrees. The learning outcomes associated with this programme focus on using the specialist technical skills acquired in the first two years of the course and developing communications skills with customers.

Students are provided with support to secure a placement. Recent placements undertaken by our students have been with ARM, Microsoft, Intel, Nestlé, British Aerospace, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well a range of SME software and hardware companies.

If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

This course is taught by world-leading researchers in BCI, Neural Engineering, Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering. The course is led by Professor Ricccardo Poli, who has many years experience of BCI and AI research, and has been successful in developing BCIs to improve decision-making. Professor Poli’s research has obtained research funding of approximately £2.6m from the UK Ministry of Defence, and he has been principle investigator in two large US/UK projects, co-funded by the US Department of Defence.

Professor Reinhold Scherer has many years experience working in one of the best BCI Laboratories in the world, the Graz BCI Lab. He is a world leader in BCI research, and has extensive experience developing applications to improve the quality of life for individuals with cognitive and motor disabilities, including those affected by stroke, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders.

Additionally, several academic staff from the Department of Psychology, will teach specialist modules in the course.

Specialist facilities

  • The Essex BCI-NE laboratory has state of the art equipment and laboratory facilities which are available to BEng Neural Engineering with Psychology students. Facilities include numerous top-of-the-range brain activity recording devices, including electroencephalography and functional near-infrared spectroscopy, several brain stimulation devices (including transcranial magnetic simulators and transcranial current simulants), a sophisticated robotic positioning system, three soundproofed Faraday cages (which reduce electromagnetic and ambient noise during human experimentation), and virtual reality systems.
  • We have six laboratories that are exclusively for Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs when they are not being used for teaching.
  • All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10.
  • Software includes Java, Python, C++, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio and Project.
  • Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (QMNet++)
  • We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robots, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors.

You will also benefit from the extensive learning resources within the Department of Psychology

  • Our multi-million pound Centre for Brain Science (CBS) allows staff to investigate brain activity, and to measure eye movements and other physiological responses.
  • Dedicated laboratories, including a virtual reality suite and an observation suite.

Your future

Interest in neural engineering technologies for both disable and able-bodied individual has grown exponentially in recent years, and today there are a plethora of technologies being trialled that improve communication, decision making, motor control, memory, attention, learning and problem solving. But also, correspondingly, large-scale initiatives, from the US and UK military, to Elon Musk’s Nueralink project, are seeking practical exploitation of such technologies.

This course will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be a leader in the development of novel technologies and applications for this rapidly developing and innovative industry, as well as the well-established biomedical, electronic and software engineering.

The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering has a large pool of external contacts who work with us and our students to provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities. Read more about computer science and electronic engineering career destinations here.

We also work with our University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.


Why we’re great

  • You will be taught in the Essex Brain-Computer Interfaces and Neural Engineering (BCI-NE) Laboratory – the largest and best equipped of its type in the country and one of the largest in Europe.
  • 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).
  • Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014).

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed as subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.


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