Psychoanalytic Studies (MA)

The MA Psychoanalytic Studies is jointly run by the Departments of Psychosocial Studies and of History, Classics and Archaeology, which allows you to study the origins of psychoanalysis, its history over its first 120 years of life, its main ideas and their applications, both within and outside the therapeutic context, and in particular how it has been taken up and contested in different social and cultural situations.

Taught by a wide range of leading academics and psychoanalytic practitioners, the programme explores how psychoanalytic thought has been used to illuminate pressing social and political concerns, and examines the controversies that have always surrounded it. It focuses on the interface between psychoanalysis as an evolving clinical practice, as a form of knowledge, and as a mode of critique. The programme examines key psychoanalytic concepts in detail and places those concepts in context. It will enable you to closely study the numerous modern developments within psychoanalysis, from Freud through to contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice. You will also explore the methodological, epistemological and ethical issues that have resulted from diverse elaboration and extension of psychoanalytic ideas, not only in a clinical setting, but also in social and cultural inquiries, and in the interpretation of the historical past.

The programme asks how far modern thought on war and other forms of violent conflict, fascism, terrorism, racism and xenophobia has had an influence on the way we think about the unconscious mind, and vice versa. It also investigates how psychoanalytic accounts of inter-personal and intra-psychic relationships have shaped - or been shaped by - wider cultural attitudes to love, intimacy and destructiveness, and about the place of these accounts in discussions of gender and sexuality, racism and postcolonialism.

This programme has good links with the British Psychoanalytical Society through its teaching staff and also because the Society's Foundation Course in Psychoanalysis can be taken as an option module by students on the MA. For students with strong clinical interests, this arrangement provides an exceptional opportunity to be taught psychoanalytic theory by some of the most senior and eminent psychoanalysts in the country.

Highlights

  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.
  • The Department of Psychosocial Studies has a formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This link enables students on this programme to undertake an option module at the university as part of their programme of study at Birkbeck.
  • As well as the core programme staff, lectures on our summer programme are likely to be given by internationally renowned Birkbeck associates.
  • See our film Spaces of Psychoanalysis (2016), directed by Bartek Dziadosz and produced by Lily Ford of Birkbeck's own Derek Jarman Lab.

Course structure

You take three core modules, which run for 10 weeks each and provide the main theoretical and historical course content. They cover primary psychoanalytic, historical and critical texts, as well as a wealth of secondary literature that addresses the applications of psychoanalytic theory to the analysis of history and culture. You choose one option module from a wide range of courses in psychosocial studies, history and other disciplines, covering topics such as: intimacy, violence, fascism and war; critical approaches to the unconscious; culture, community and identity; sexuality, history and sexual identities; and affect and illness. Alternatively, a limited number of students can apply to take the option module in psychoanalysis at the British Psychoanalytical Society (details subject to review).

You also undertake an Independent Research Module, to support you in choosing, developing and undertaking a piece of independent research (qualitative empirical or theoretical), culminating in a dissertation.

You may also take an option module at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Read more about this programme in our handbook.

Module groups

Core modules

Indicative psychosocial option modules

Indicative College-wide option modules

Independent research module

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Minimum upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in any discipline relevant to the programme, including most humanities and social science disciplines, such as psychology, history, English, languages, sociology, politics, philosophy and cultural studies.

    In exceptional circumstances, the admissions tutor will consider applicants who do not meet this criterion but who have substantial relevant professional experience (for example, in teaching, journalism, social work, counselling and psychotherapy, mediation, development work) and who can demonstrate through interview and a written assignment that they have the required academic abilities to complete a Master's-level course.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa
    Full-time international students: £14850 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures, seminars, tutorials, group and individual supervision by staff in psychosocial studies and history, as well as (for those students taking the Foundation Course option) by the British Psychoanalytical Society.

    Students undertaking the option module at the British Psychoanalytical Society will be required to attend one evening a week at their premises in west London for 30 weeks.

    Teaching staff on this programme include Lisa BaraitserStephen FroshDaniel Pick and Jacqueline Rose. This group of academics brings together world-leading researchers in psychosocial studies, history, literary studies and clinical practice.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Written and practical assignments, oral presentations and a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue a career in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, counselling, or research. Possible professions can include psychoanalyst, psychotherapist, or counsellor. This degree can also be useful in the fields of education, journalism, and politics, as well as in becoming a clinical psychologist.

    Find out more about these professions.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link below.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    No closing date for applications, but early applications (before April each academic year) are strongly advised.