Students Staff

Professional Doctorates

We are no longer accepting new students onto the Professional Doctorate programme. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr Kevin Lu, if you require further information:

  • Course structure

    The doctorate programme consists of:

    Clinical training

    The clinical training component is undertaken with an appropriate psychotherapy training organisation and leads to registration with the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) or the Council for Psychoanalysis and Jungian Analysis (CPJA), which is a college of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

    Research component

    The research component, normally three years of part-time study, offers a structured method of continuing professional development aimed at enhancing research skills and contributing to the development of the field. It consists of methodology seminars, a research workshop, and writing under supervision a 40,000-word thesis (approximately half that of a PhD thesis). The research component on each of the three professional doctorate programmes will be the same (the same taught component plus supervision).

    Research thesis

    In addition to the clinical training and research component, you write a research thesis. Research for the thesis can be carried out in any area of psychoanalytic, psychodynamic or analytical psychology, subject to the availability of suitably qualified supervisors.

    Research in the context of a professional doctorate should be of relevance to clinical practice and should in some form contribute to the field of clinical work. It should show either how the research derives from clinical practice or how it enhances clinical practice.

    In some cases, the nature of the research for a professional doctorate will be indistinguishable from research for a PhD, especially when the clinical process itself is not the source of data (for example, in conceptual, historical and outcome studies).

    In cases where the clinical process itself generates the data, such as the use of one or a small number of detailed case reports or the use of psychodynamic observation and interviews, there are particular methodological issues unique to clinical research. This course aims to explore and develop research in the clinical domain in particular.

    Duration of course

    Normally three years of part-time study. If you can demonstrate your readiness, you may apply to submit your thesis after two years. Application for early submission is done by requesting an additional supervisory board after the fourth term of study.

  • Course content

    First year

    Psychoanalytic Methodology seminars

    This course covers the major epistemological and methodological issues in doing clinical research from a psychoanalytic and Jungian perspective, and aims at teaching a critical approach to the way in which psychoanalytic thinking (from a Freudian, Jungian and Kleinian perspective) generates knowledge. The course, which consists of a two-hour seminar every fortnight during the autumn and spring terms, is taught by our Department staff and guest lecturers.

    Psychoanalytic Methodology research workshop

    This workshop takes place two to three times per term, on alternate weeks with the Psychoanalytic Methodology course and is taught by our Department staff. The workshop comprises both practical research methods teaching and student presentations, and supplements the research methodology seminars. The aim of the workshop is to help you prepare your own research thesis and introduce you to the fundamental aspects of undertaking a research project, including:

    • developing a research question
    • using databases and carrying out a literature review
    • writing a research proposal
    • ethics and informed consent
    • on-going discussion of student projects.

    Individual supervision

    You are allocated an individual supervisor (a member of the University staff or an approved associate supervisor) at the beginning of the scheme, but the supervisor may be changed when the topic of the research is settled (no later than the start of the summer term of the first year).

    For Professional Doctorates in which research involves control of transference and counter-transference and the generation of data from the clinical process, it might be appropriate to consult an associate clinical supervisor, and this would be done in consultation with the supervisor. In these cases, the supervisor retains responsibility for the project, but the associate clinical supervisor may be needed to monitor the clinical or observational process that generates the data.

    Such supervision would be at the discretion of the individual student, in consultation with the supervisor, and would need to be financed on a private basis. In cases of specialist knowledge areas an associate academic supervisor or consultant from outside the University might also be brought in on the same basis.

    Conditions of progress in the first year

    You are expected to have a coherent proposal prior to acceptance on the programme and start work on more detailed planning of your research thesis from the beginning of the first year, in consultation with the University supervisor.

    You are expected to attend the Orientation Day which usually takes place at the Colchester Campus on the Wednesday before the beginning of the academic year, at the beginning of October.

    Attendance on one day (minimum) of the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies Research Student Conference, which takes place at the Colchester Campus at the end of May, is a requirement of the course. Attendance for the full conference (usually at least another day and including the Annual Freud Memorial Lecture) is strongly recommended.

    Assessment is based on:

    • a review of the literature in your chosen field of inquiry (4,000 words; deadline: Monday of the first week of the spring term)
    • a methodology paper (4,000 words; deadline: Monday of the first week of the summer term)
    • an introduction to your project as a whole, which will normally be a new version of the original proposal, revised in the light of work done during the year, including the literature review and methodology paper (4,000 words; submitted to a supervisory board, which is normally held in July).

    These three components will be coherent pieces of work, amenable to independent assessment, but it is expected that they will also provide the basis for chapters or substantial sections of the research thesis. These three pieces of work will make up the research portfolio for the first year of the course.

    Your literature review and methodology assignments are considered by an examination board in the summer term. Your introduction and work generally is presented to, and discussed with, a supervisory board consisting of the supervisor and two other members of staff, at least one of whom will be a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, psychodynamic psychotherapist, or analytical psychologist. For details of the role and function of the Supervisory Board, see the Postgraduate Student Handbook (.pdf).

    The Research Students Progress Committee (RSPC) will recommend progression to the second year, depending on whether you have:

    • passed the literature review and methodology assignments
    • shown satisfactory progress with the introduction/ research proposal as assessed by the supervisory board.

    Second and third years

    Work towards completion of the research thesis continues supported throughout the year by:

    Research workshop

    This workshop continues twice a term during the second year of the course and brings together all students studying the Professional Doctorate in joint problem-solving activities.

    Individual supervision

    This will be the key method of learning and support in the second and third years.

    Supervisory board

    In the summer term of the second and third years you again present your work to a supervisory board. (If you have applied to be considered for early submission of your thesis you will have an additional supervisory board at the end of the first term or beginning of the second term of your second year in order to consider your application.)

    Throughout your studies you are urged to take advantage of the research culture of our Department as a whole and in particular are invited to attend and, especially in your second and third years, to present at the Research Student Forum which takes place at the Colchester Campus three times a term.


    Your thesis must be submitted no later than 15 September at the end of the third year, although extensions may be possible in certain circumstances in accordance with the University's regulations - see the Postgraduate Handbook (.pdf).

    Although the written assignments for the Psychoanalytic Methodology course must be passed, and the passes confirmed by an examination board, they do not contribute to the final assessment for the award of the doctorate, which is based solely on the research thesis.

    Time commitment

    The course begins in October and registration will be part-time for three years (or, if approved, for two years). Depending on your research experience, you may be required to attend our two-day postgraduate introduction to research methods. This is normally held in early November or mid February.

    Seminars in the first year are taught on Friday afternoons during the University terms. Individual supervision will need to be negotiated with particular supervisors, but is likely to take place on Wednesdays or Fridays.

    In the second and third years, the research workshops take place on Friday afternoons. Individual supervision will need to be negotiated with the particular supervisor, but is again likely to take place on Wednesdays or Fridays.

    Each year you will need to be able to find time to carry out your research and your own personal study, and it is strongly recommended that you allow a minimum of a day and a half per week (including Friday afternoon). You are required to visit the University at least once per academic year; this is most likely to be during the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies Research Student Conference, usually held near the end of May.

  • Assessment and progression

    Rules of assessment

    The literature review and methodology assignments must each be passed with a minimum grade of 50%. The introduction/research proposal is assessed on a pass/fail basis and must be passed. A pass in the first year assessments acts as a gateway into the thesis research, but does not contribute to the final assessment for the award of the Doctorate.

    However, if you pass the first year assignments but do not proceed to the thesis may be eligible for an exit award of a Postgraduate Certificate in Psychoanalytic Research.

    The Research Students Progress Committee (RSPC) will consider whether you have:

    • passed both methodology assessments
    • produced an introduction/research proposal approved by the supervisory board.

    The thesis is assessed in accordance with the normal arrangements for a PhD. An internal and an external examiner are appointed and a viva is held. The rules of assessment applying to the first year assignments and the Postgraduate Certificate exit award are the same as those for Postgraduate Certificates generally.

    Assessment and progression procedures

    The Board of Examiners meets once per year, at the end of June, to consider marks on the literature review and methodology assignments, and related matters. Research progress is assessed in the same way as for a PhD student. A supervisory board and Research Students Progress Committee considers your progress in each year of the scheme.

    At the end of the minimum registration period, you may:

    • submit your thesis
    • ask for an extension of the minimum period; or
    • ask to enter a completion period.

    The latter two options are recommended by the supervisory board to the Research Students Progress Committee and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. To enter a completion period, you must have passed the coursework assessments and have written a complete draft of your thesis.