The Unconscious in Individuals, Groups and Society

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
05 June 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L921 International Development (Including Foundation Year),
BA L250 International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA L202 Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA C848CO Psychodynamic Practice (Including Foundation Year),
BA C89C Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA L523 Childhood Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module will introduce students to the key concepts of psychoanalytic and socio analytic thinking. In particular, they will become aware of unconscious dynamics at work in individuals, groups, organisations and society. The module aims to establish a theoretical foundation for students pursuing degrees in humanities, education and social science.

As such students will study the basis of a psychoanalytic perspective, the key theoretical ideas and their place within the social sciences. The importance of the unconscious and early experience will be emphasised. This learning about psychoanalysis will be supported by experiential learning of hidden dynamics and processes in groups and organisations. Students will explore the way individuals affect one another, institutions affect the people who work in them and vice versa, and the dynamics of leadership and followership. Students will develop insights into their actions and motivations and will be encouraged to explore their potential.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To familiarise students with the key concepts of psychoanalytic thinking applied to individuals, groups, organisations and society.

  • To build on students' understanding of the hidden complexities of people’s behaviour in groups, organisations and society.

  • To become aware of the unconscious dynamics at work in individuals, groups and organisations.

  • To understand how psychodynamic insight can be applied to groups, organisations and society.

  • To provide foundation knowledge about the hidden dynamics of groups and institutions with the wider psycho-social context.
  • Module learning outcomes

    By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of key psychoanalytic concepts as they apply to individuals.

  • Understand key psychoanalytic and socioanalytic concepts in relation to working and living in groups, in organisations, and in society.

  • Recognise different basic patterns of interactions in groups and organisations.

  • Apply psychoanalytic ideas to concepts of leadership and followership.

  • Critically assess psychoanalytic and socioanalytic theories for groups, organisations and society.

  • Understand organisational and societal dynamics and how they affect everyday life.

  • Skills for your professional life (Transferable Skills)

    By the end of this module, students will have practised the following transferrable skills:

  • Critical thinking skills - understanding and exploring complex theories and ideas developed in lectures, classes discussion groups and seminars.

  • Communication skills (written and oral) - discussing and sharing in a supportive, patient and understanding manner.

  • Listening skills - the ability to receive, interpret and understand messages as part of the communication process.

  • Organisational skills - (e.g. working independently, taking initiative, time management.) Students are encouraged to work independently and to explore problems on their own initiative. The lecturer fosters these skills by providing bibliographies and referring to articles or books which students may then go and read.

  • Inter-personal skills - (e.g. ability to work with or motivate others, flexibility/adaptability). The ability to work with other people is fostered in the experiential exercises which provide deep learning about working in and with groups.

  • Research Skills - students are encouraged to learn some research skills by selecting and evaluating relevant sources, using the University Library and desk research.
  • Module information


  • Introduction to psychoanalytic and socioanalytic concepts.

  • Our adult world and its roots in infancy.

  • Intrapersonal dynamics.

  • Interpersonal dynamics.

  • Group dynamics.

  • Intergroup dynamics.

  • Organisational dynamics.

  • Societal dynamics.

  • Observing organisations.

  • Group relations.

  • Social defences against anxiety.

  • Researching the Unconscious – introducing various research methods for applying psychoanalytic ideas to social science- Socioanalysis, Observing Organisations, Narrative methods and Case Studies.
  • Learning and teaching methods

    This module will be delivered via:

    • One 1-hour lecture per week.
    • One 1-hour seminar per week.
    • One 2-hour experiential learning class.

    Teaching and learning on Essex Pathways modules offers students the ability to develop the foundation knowledge, skills, and competencies to study at the undergraduate level, through a curriculum that is purposely designed to provide an exceptional learning experience. All teaching, learning and assessment materials will be available via Moodle in a consistent and user-friendly manner.

    Lectures - will introduce basic psychoanalytic, socioanalytic and group relations concepts and theories that will underpin the practical work done in the experiential learning classes and prepare students for studying future theoretical, experiential and research-based modules.

    Experiential learning classes - students will undertake practical exercises and will create temporary learning organisations to explore some of the basic dynamics and the applications of the theoretical concepts. It will also enable students to develop good group work skills which can be very helpful for their modules and seminars in general.

    Seminars - students will use these classes will apply the ideas from the lectures and the experiential learning and will reflect on how to use these. They will keep a reflective journal.


    This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

    Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

    Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
    Coursework   IA179 - Reflective Journal    30% 
    Coursework   IA179 - Participation    5% 
    Coursework   IA179 - Assignment 1 - 1,000 words  02/02/2024  25% 
    Coursework   IA179 - Assignment 2 - 1,200 words  15/03/2024  40% 

    Additional coursework information

    Formative assessment

    Formative assessment will take place throughout the module in experiential learning classes and seminars. During these classes, students will undertake activities which cover the same learning outcomes as those in the summative assessments and receive feedback. After participating in various intergroup activities students will learn from their experience of being members of a group trying to interact and work with other groups. They will be able to observe how the theoretical concepts can be applied to better understand practical situations. They complete observation reports to be discussed in seminars.

    Summative assessment

    • Assignment 1 - the first coursework assignment will investigate basic psychoanalytic ideas applied to individuals and groups. It will aim to find out how well students have grasped the main ideas and thinking and how these could be applied to their thinking about groups
    • Assignment 2 - the second course work assignment will aim to investigate students’ understanding of psychoanalytic and socioanalytic ideas when these are applied to broader social contexts – organisations and society.
    • Reflective Journal - students will keep a reflective journal demonstrating how they make sense of both the theory and the experiential classes. They will be able to reflect on their experience in the experiential learning classes and make sense of some of the emerging processes and dynamics.
    • Participation - students attend classes and play active role in discussions on a consistent basis actively supporting, engaging and listening to peers.

    Reassessment strategy

    • Failed coursework - resubmit a piece of coursework (1,500 words) which will be marked as 100% of the new module mark. The reassessment task will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met.

    Exam format definitions

    • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
    • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
    • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
    • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

    Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

    Overall assessment

    Coursework Exam
    100% 0%


    Coursework Exam
    100% 0%
    Module supervisor and teaching staff
    Dr Kalina Stamenova, email: knstam@essex.ac.uk.
    Becky Humphreys (becky.humphreys@essex.ac.uk or 01206 872217)



    External examiner

    Miss Jan O'Driscoll
    University of Chester
    Dean of Lifelong Learning and Director of Foundation Years
    Available via Moodle
    Of 30 hours, 30 (100%) hours available to students:
    0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
    0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


    Further information
    Essex Pathways

    Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.