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Psychoanalytic Studies

Course overview

(MA) Master of Arts
Psychoanalytic Studies
University of Essex
University of Essex
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Full-time or part-time
MA C89024

A good 2:2 degree.

With your online application you must submit a personal statement; this should detail the reasons for wanting to study the course, including any relevant experience (work or voluntary) that may support your application.

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Prof Caroline Bainbridge
Roehampton University

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA901-7-FY Psychoanalytic Theory Core 30 Core Core
02 PA915-7-PT PA915-7-FY (Assessed in Following Year) Compulsory 0 Compulsory Compulsory
03 PA941-7-AU Reading Freud Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
04 PA942-7-SP Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA981-7-FY MA Dissertation Core 60 Optional
02 PA927-7-AU Psychoanalysis of Groups and Organisations Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
03 PA928-7-AU Psychoanalytic Epistemology Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
04 PA976-7-SP PA976-7-FY Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
05 PA915-7-FY Research Skills and Methods in Depth Psychology Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To provide a thorough grounding in psychoanalytic theory in the tradition of the ‘‘British School' of psychoanalysis.

To place psychoanalysis in the social, cultural and intellectual milieu in which psychoanalysis developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

To show the importance of psychodynamic

- especially unconscious

- forces operating both in clinical and non-clinical situations.

To promote the use of psychoanalysis to understand phenomena outside the clinical domain, as well as to use knowledge and insights from these sources in order better to understand psychoanalytic thinking.

To explore methodological issues in psychoanalysis: what is special about psychoanalytic methodology, what are its strengths and weaknesses.

To encourage a questioning and curious attitude towards psychoanalysis and towards all fields of inquiry, and to understand psychoanalysis as itself a questioning and curious discipline.

To help students define an area of special psychoanalytic inquiry and carry out research in that area.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 The basic principles of psychoanalytic theory within the 'British School', including the issues involved at points of development of divergent concepts.
A2 Psychoanalytic methodology, including the key role of transference.
A3 Theory of unconscious psychodynamic processes in individuals, and its extension into their working in groups, institutions, culture and society
A4 The context in which psychoanalysis developed (historical, philosophical, social cultural) and of the contribution of psychoanalysis itself to understanding this context.
A5 Comparative thinking about psychoanalytic theory.
A6 Psychoanalysis as a form of critical analysis and the critical analysis of psychoanalytic texts.
A7 Research in an area related to psychoanalysis.
Learning Methods: A1 to A7 are conveyed through seminars, which are not only didactic, but also make use of the teaching/learning group to illustrate psychodynamic processes.

A1 to A3, A5, A6 are learned in seminars on psychoanalytic theory (PA901), in PA928 (psychoanalytic Methodology) and in PA977 (Thinking Psychoanalytically), a course that deepens the understanding of psychoanalytic theory through dealing with specific themes from a psychoanalytic point of view and in relation to other ways of thinking about them.

A4, A5 and A6 are addressed in a dedicated course on context, which includes joint teaching with a parallel course in the MA in Jungian and Post Jungian Studies (PA976).

A2 and A6 to A7 are learned in the independent researching and writing of a dissertation under supervision, supported by a research forum.
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by a one 3000 or 5000 word essay per course (15 or 30 credit), a 3000 word dissertation project (PA915) and a 12,000 word dissertation.

Essay and dissertation guidelines make clear the areas of assessment.

More specifically, A1, A3, A5 and A6 are assessed in PA901 (Psychoanalytic Theory).

A2, A3 are assessed in PA928 (Psychoanalytic Methodology) and PA977 (Thinking Psychoanalytically).

A4, A5 and A6 are assessed in PA976 (Freud in Contexts).

A2, A6 and A7 are assessed in the Dissertation.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Ability to focus on an aspect of the intellectual, cultural or social milieu and analyze its influences on the development of psychoanalysis.
B2 Capacity to analyze in-depth psychoanalytic theory, by focusing on some aspect in relation to the broader body of theory.
B3 Ability to analyze and interpret both texts and verbal arguments.
B4 Ability to analyze material, either clinical or non-clinical, using psychoanalytic ideas.
B5 Ability to apply psychoanalytic thinking to areas of clinical and non-clinical importance, and to bring it into dialogue with non-psychoanalytic ideas.
B6 Ability to present coherent arguments.
B7 Ability to identify in material, either clinical or non-clinical, opportunities for further research, whether conceptual or empirical.
Learning Methods: All teaching is done in seminars, in which active participation is encouraged, usually in relation to texts.

The seminar itself provides opportunities for psychoanalytic thinking, as the discussion builds between members.

Feedback on written course work sharpens attention to the aims of the course.

The Research Forum and supervision provides guidance on discerning research opportunities.

Tutorials support intellectual and cognitive development.

Although students are not formally assessed in either seminars or the research forum, they do benefit from the continuous feedback in response to their contributions.

In the Research Forums, they present their own proposals and progress on their dissertations.
Assessment Methods: 3000 or 5000 word essay for each course; a 3000 word dissertation project (PA915) and a 12000 word dissertation.

B1, B4, B5 are assessed in PA976 (Contexts) B2, B4 are assessed in PA901 (Theory) B2 is also assessed in PA928(Psychoanalytic Methodology) B4, B5 are assessed in PA928(Psychoanalytic Methodology) and PA977 (Thinking Psychoanalytically) B3, B6 are assessed in all courses

B7 is assessed in the dissertation.

C: Practical skills

C1 Ability to formulate a research project and implement the research skills necessary to carry it out.
C2 Ability to document and provide evidence for arguments, both orally and in writing.
C3 Ability to write structured and focused essays, with proper citations and references.
Learning Methods: All teaching and learning is done in seminars focused on clearly specified topics, supported by texts.

Although participation is not formally assessed, it is actively sought, and our teaching style emphasizes drawing students out, inviting coherent argument.

Essay preparation is supported by individual tutorials.

Dissertation preparation is supported by individual supervision and by the Research Forum, where students present their proposals and their progress.
Assessment Methods: Assessment is by essay and dissertation.

D: Key skills

D1 Ability to write clearly, coherently, and concisely.
D4 For essays and dissertations, students define a topic and formulate a method for addressing it.
D6 Autonomously work to deadlines and make use of coursework feedback to refine their thinking on a topic.
Learning Methods: D1. Teaching/learning is by seminar, in which students are encouraged to express complex ideas clearly.

They must also prepare and verbally present research proposals to the Research Forum.

D4. Support by tutorials, supervision and research Forum.

D6. Teachers provide substantive feedback on essays; supervisors and the Research Forum support the refinement of research proposals their implementation.

At the end of the first term, students write a commentary on a paper, on which they commented as part of their application to the MA, and receive staff feedback in the same form as on a course essay.

The following are not assessed:

D2. Training sessions on IT resources in psychoanalysis are provided by the University Library.

Students learn to use IT search and cataloguing methods.

D3. Guidance by special arrangement.

If needed for a particular project (for example, statistics) supervision by appropriate staff in the University is available.

D5. Students teach and learn from each other in the seminar setting.
Assessment Methods: D1 and D4: formal assessment is only by essay and dissertation.

D6 (deadlines) is in effect assessed by penalties applied to late submissions; D6 (refining thinking) is assessed, but not graded, in the commentary that students write at the end of the first term, on the same paper on which they commented as part of their application to the MA.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, 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 courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: