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At the start of her studies, MSc Cognitive Neuroscience student Louisa Butler had ambitions of an academic career. 

Whilst she still aims to pursue a career in academia in the future, she also found that her degree equipped her with the skills to succeed in a variety of different careers.

After studying at Reading at an undergraduate level, Louisa decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience:

“I always had an interest in psychology which combined my love of science and understanding human behaviour. I decided to stay at Reading after my undergraduate degree as I really enjoyed the atmosphere here and support from academics. The MSc Cognitive Neuroscience degree combined my interests so seemed perfect for me.”

The postgraduate course

At its most basic level, the degree teaches students how the mechanisms of the brain function, but soon Louisa found she was learning a variety of skills which had uses beyond cognitive neuroscience.

“I thought my degree would be purely theoretical, but one of my biggest surprises was its focus on practical skills. When I went into the degree, I had the idea that my skills were only applicable to academia. The course opened up my mind to see that I could also use my skills and passion in a range of areas.”

During her studies, Louisa was taught data analysis, statistics, programming and coding. She was supported by academics with experience in industry who helped her when applying for jobs.

“The academics within the School were really helpful when I was applying for jobs. They had the insight and provided me with the confidence to see how my skills from my placement and degree were relevant for working in data analysis.”

A new career

Since graduating in 2020, Louisa has begun working with BrightMinded – a software company based in Brighton. As an ‘Applied Cognitive Neuroscientist’, her role is to work with coders and mathematicians in the creation of apps and websites. Louisa utilises her knowledge of human behaviour to help find creative software solutions.

“Our team is currently working on software to recommend more suitable and accurate stock imagery for content creators. I am working to quantify the human decision-making process for image selection which is then implemented by the developers in my team.”

The skills that Louisa developed throughout her degree – not just her knowledge of cognitive neuroscience but statistical analysis and writing code – have proved invaluable in her current role.

“I really love my job and I have been able to make use of everything I have been taught. Learning how to devise and run experiments, theorise, and code have been incredibly useful. Most importantly, my degree taught me how to understand and speak to people with other areas of expertise.”

Louisa still aspires to a career in academia. But now she is also interested in continuing with a career in data analysis alongside studying for a PhD.