Course Syllabus

DIS Logo
Term & Location:

Summer 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Lab & Research Session - 6 credits

Major Disciplines:

Biology, Neuroscience, Pre-Medicine/Health Science


One year each of biology and chemistry at university level.

Research Mentor:

Professor Julian Macoveanu

RA Supervisor:

Jeanette Erbo Wern, PhD 

DIS Research Director:

Tina Mangieri, PhD 

Academic Support: 


6-Credit Summer Research Assistantship 

The 6-Credit Research Assistantship (6RA) is an experiential learning opportunity promoting the development of research skills in an international, professional, research setting.  As a Research Assistant, you perform research under the supervision of a Research Mentor (a lead scientist in the external research group). The mentor is able to offer both academic and professional advice. In addition to acquiring research experience, the goal is to develop a student/mentor relationship that benefits both the DIS student and Copenhagen-based research institutions.

Research Project Description

The research in Professor Julian Macoveanu department  at Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet:

Research topic:  Bipolar disorder is associated with a wide range of neurobiological disturbances, including anomalies in the structure and function of cortical and subcortical brain regions. Cognitive impairment has been highlighted as a core feature of bipolar disorder that often persists during remission. The specific brain correlates of cognitive impairment in remain unclear which impedes efficient therapeutic approaches. In a large sample of remitted bipolar disorder patients, we will investigate whether morphological brain abnormalities within prefrontal cortex and hippocampus were related to cognitive deficits.

The project is planned to involve visual assessment of the quality of MRI brain scans and brain models automatically constructed by the Freesurfer software and correct errors in the reconstruction. In addition, the project may also involve exploring recent neuroimaging literature in bipolar disorder and high-risk participants and summarizing these findings in a working document.

Learning Objectives

  • Obtain hands-on research experience in a lab-based setting
  • Plan, conduct, and critically evaluate experimental data
  • Perform self-directed and self-motivated experimental research
  • Actively participate in scientific discussions with a critical approach to the research
  • Write a research paper and present experimental data in a professional way
  • Learn ethical standards and academic integrity in a research process
  • Experience the authenticity of research, including the unpredictabilities, the unexpected challenges, and unknowns that are a common part of conducting research

Research Assistantship Hours 

Students will spend 180 hours directly engaged in research, together with 20-25 hours in co-curricular activities during their summer study. You will arrange a schedule with your mentor which will allow you to complete, per week, an average of 20-22 hours of lab-work, 10 theoretical hours of reading and writing, and 3-5 hours of Introduction to Denmark, to complement your research and provide context for your time abroad: 35 hours in total each week. Note: there may be peak times in the research process where all Research Assistant students are expected to spend a few more hours, and then possibly a few less another week – to reflect the individual research project and process. Also, the total hours may to some extend vary according to research opportunity and expectation of your mentor.

Lab Location

This DIS Research Project is located at an external institution. Make sure you have arranged your first meeting with your mentor before arriving in Copenhagen including where to meet and how to get there.

Research Mentor

Neuroscience, Julian Macoveanu

Professor Julian Macoveanu

Senior researcher at the Copenhagen Affective Disorder Research Center. Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Karolinska Institute, Sweden. Licentiate of Engineering in Computational Biology from University of Linköping, Sweden. MSc. from Stockholm University, Sweden. With DIS since 2014.

Approach to Mentoring

The 6RA is designed for highly motivated students with a strong interest in developing their research skills. You will experience a hands-on class in a laboratory setting also including theoretical hours, where you will read, write, discuss, and prepare your research. You will be part of an active research team and experience the dynamics of a European research institution. You will be provided with the basic scientific knowledge of the field and be introduced to the methods and techniques needed to conduct the experiments. Regarding teaching style, especially in the laboratory setting, our approach is "learning by doing." For the theoretical focus, you are expected to immerse yourself in the topic and take responsibility so you achieve the highest learning outcomes by actively participating in discussions and presentations. 

Responsibilities and Expectations of the Research Mentor

Your research project will be part of a larger, ongoing research project at the research institution. Your mentor and/or co-mentors will guide you on methodology and techniques, advise as to ethical considerations, provide feedback throughout the research process, and help you find resources to conduct your research on-site.  The RAship encourages a gradual transition toward independence as you gain more confidence in the lab, transforming your work into a more self-directed and self-motivated project under the mentor’s guidance and supervision. It is important, that the project reflect your work, as a 6RA student, not only your mentor’s contribution.  

It is not expected that you pursue a project where you are able to obtain definitive publishable results. The project chosen and agreed upon between you and your mentor should be focused and designed to produce results within the DIS semester calendar. While it is not necessary for the results to be significant (in that the results find a solution to the problem or hypothesis proposed), arguably any results to the proposed question are significant to the next phase of a research project.  

Responsibilities and Expectations of the Research Assistant

Specific expectations of you as a student is agreed upon with your mentor at the beginning of the semester. However, in general it requires that you:

  1. Spend an average of 35 hours per week carrying out the research project including on average 3 hours of Introduction to Denmark each Wednesday generally between 13:00 - 16:00 but sometime for longer or later hours. You will need to arrange a schedule with your mentor which will allow you to complete the required hours performing a combination of theoretical and hands-on research at the external research institution.
  2. Arrange project check-in meetings with your research mentor and/or co-mentor(s) at mutually agreed upon times during the summer. Clear and continuous communication with your research mentor throughout the term is a necessary part of the research project and it is expected that you initiate these meetings. 
  3. Submit assignments on time including a literature review,  a outline of the research project, a journal club presentation, a final research paper and a recorded "talk-over" powerpoint or poster presentation (or another type of video format) as agreed on with your mentor.

As part of your theoretical focus, you are expected to read and write relevant scientific literature in relation to your research project and use your newly-gained knowledge to critically evaluate the research component, ask relevant questions, and actively participate in research discussions within the field. During the practical work, you are expected to actively engage by planning and performing your own experiments or data collection and carefully monitoring the conducted experiments and analyzing the collected data. You are expected/encouraged to critically evaluate possible issues if results do not go as expected and come up with ideas to modify or reflect on potential mistakes.

Overall, it is important to be enthusiastic about the project. Carrying out a research project is neither a straightforward nor predictable process as you are creating new (and at times unexpected) knowledge. This is part of what makes research exciting but also challenging! 

Evaluation and Grading

During the summer research course, you are expected to fulfill various assignments. To be eligible for a passing grade in 6RA, all of the assignments must be completed. It will be your mentor that assess your work and assign your final grade.

Assignments and their weights are shown in the following table:

Participation - Lab-based work and theoretical hours


Participation - Introduction to Denmark


Literature Summary  Review


Written and Oral outline of Research project


Oral Presentation at Journal Club


Research Paper:

Written Project


Presentation or Research Project




The literature summary review is an opportunity to seek out existing peer-reviewed articles and, in that way, enhance your scientific knowledge within the research area and kickstart your research project. In addition, it is essential that you have knowledge of previously produced research by the research institution with which you are working.

An outline of the research project will provide you with an overall research plan and help structure your research during the term. By creating an outline, you will be able to better comprehend the objective of your efforts. Your mentor will also be able to use the outline to assess areas in which your current knowledge and understanding may be lacking.

The research paper is the final product of your research assistantship. In the paper, you will explain your work throughout the term, including the methodologies you have used, the overall process, the project’s significance, and the contribution to the field of research in which you have engaged. Please note: this research paper is not produced with the intent of publishing, but if you put in the hours and effort it may end up being a publication. 

For the oral presentation, you will present the research you have carried out throughout the summer in a  format agreed upon with your mentor and approved by DIS. The presentation should have a logical and clear structure and provide relevant information on the background, methods, conclusions, and future perspectives of the presented work. The original data reported in the paper should be presented and discussed in a clear way.

Participation is a central part of laboratory-based research and the international study experience. To receive full credit, you are required to be present at all the scheduled research sessions in and outside of the lab and actively participate and engage in the experimental work (both practical and theoretical). 

Besides research, it is also important you learn some cultural and historical aspect of Denmark while studying here. Therefore, you are required to attend the "Introduction to Denmark" course as part of your participation grade.

Of the final participation grade, 20% is based on:

  • Attendance and the level of preparation, planning, and conduction of the experimental research work at the research place as well as your level of self-directed and self-motivated research work
  • Your overall contribution to research discussions with the research group in general, at journal clubs, and at project presentations

An additional 10% of the participation grade is based on your attendance and active engagement in the Wednesday afternoon Introduction to Denmark series, led by DIS Danish Language and Culture faculty, Mette Jungersen. Please see the corresponding Canvas page for these required weekly activities, designed to introduce you to the cultural context of your temporary home, enhance your time in Copenhagen, and deepen your understanding of Denmark.

Journal Clubs

Journal clubs are research presentations followed by discussions organized by the research place. They are occasions for detailed discussions within a specific research area and for development of excellent presentation skills which is required of researchers today; They also serve as an exercise of reading and doing critical thinking of research papers as well as interbedding experimental data.

The research paper that you choose to present during a Journal Club, should be related to your research area. If you are more than one DIS students in the same lab, the other student(s) should also read the paper and prepare questions for the journal club discussion.

The presentation should have a logical and clear structure and provide relevant information on the background, methods, conclusions, and future perspectives of the presented work. The original data reported in the paper should be presented and discussed in a clear way.


Note that many US colleges/universities require their students who are participating in research at home or abroad to acquire Institutional Review Board approval. Examples include:

  • Research involving human subjects
  • If the results of any research conducted during your semester with DIS involving human subjects are to be made public or published in the US

You are responsible for confirming whether home IRB-approval is required and, if so, for seeking the approval of your home schools IRB. In addition, all research conducted in Europe must adhere to GDPR regulations.

Before Arrival in Copenhagen

Please note: some mentors may give you 10 – 15 hours of research literature to read before your term start.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic RegulationsLinks to an external site. on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:



DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due