Lacanian psychoanalysis

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
21 August 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides an introduction to the theory developed by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

In his 'retour à Freud' during the 1950s, Lacan interpreted the Freudian concepts through the framework of Structuralism. He made links between psychoanalysis and other sciences such as linguistics, anthropology, literature and philosophy. Due to his innovative and interdisciplinary approach, his corpus of writings and seminars has a far-reaching and still growing influence on diverse fields such as mental health, psychology, political theory, philosophy, film theory, and literary criticism.

In this module, we focus on the Lacanian anthropology (what it is to be human) and the implications of his theory for how we can think about social relations. According to Lacan, the process in which an infant evolves into a human being cannot be described as an internal, mental development with a number of delineated phases. Rather, subjectivity emerges within a particular structure consisting in other people, language and law. The structure precedes the subject and determines the subject. What we consider to be our most intimate features, such as self-image, unconscious, desire and phantasy, are in fact constituted by something outside and beyond ourselves. We will investigate how Lacan reformulated the theory of the Oedipus complex by bringing to the fore the central role of the desire of the (m) other rather than the incestuous desire of the child. The resolution of the Oedipus complex is determined by the way the subject deals with the Other's desire.

Throughout these ten seminar weeks, we will develop the three registers of human existence: the Imaginary, Symbolic and Real order. In the final seminars, we will discuss the implications of these Lacanian concepts for the theory on social and sexual relations.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide an introduction to the psychoanalytic theory of Lacan

  • To describe the Lacanian theory on the emergence of the subject

  • To demonstrate the implications of Lacanian psychoanalysis for our understanding of social relations in general and sexual relations in particular

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Explain the difference between the Imaginary, Symbolic and Real dimensions of human experience

  2. Analyse the notion of subjectivity from a Structuralist point of view

  3. Compare the registers of need, demand and desire in human interactions

  4. Apply the Lacanian concepts of signifier, other, Other, and desire to the Freudian phenomena of 'slip', dream and symptom

  5. Understand the importance of the lacking object for subjectivity

  6. Apply Lacan's discourse theory to social relations

  7. Discuss the difference between the sexes from a Lacanian point of view

  8. Engage in a close reading of Lacan's work

Module information

Key Skills

Ability to engage in close reading, ability to analyse complex information and compare different interpretations, openness to deal with ambiguous content, written communication.

Employability Skills

Ability to express yourself precisely in writing, ability to analyse information with attention to details and nuances, ability to think critically, ability to plan work and carry it through effectively, manage time effectively and work to deadline.

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly one-hour lectures by staff, followed by one-hour seminars led by GTA's. Students are invited to prepare seminars in cartels. The cartels function according to the principles stipulated in Parker I. (2005). Cartels in lacanian psychoanalysis.


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   Reading assignment 1     

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
Prof Matt Ffytche, email:
Dr Chenyang Wang, email:
From Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator Room 5A.202; telephone 01206 874969; email



External examiner

Dr Angie Voela
University of East London
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (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).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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