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Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Course overview

(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (Including Foundation Year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree

UK and EU applicants should have, or expect to have:

72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.

Examples of the above tariff may include:

  • A-levels: DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP

Essex Pathways Department accepts a wide range of qualifications from applicants. If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.

Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

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

Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.

External Examiners

Prof Barry Richards
Bournemouth University
Professor of Political Psychology

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 0 - 2019/20

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 IA121-3-FY Philosophy: Fundamental Questions, Major Thinkers Core 30
02 IA195-3-FY Research and Academic Development Skills Core 30
03 IA111-3-FY or IA118-3-FY or IA158-3-FY Core with Options 30
04 IA111-3-FY or IA118-3-FY or IA158-3-FY Core with Options 30

Year 3 - 2022/23

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 PA987-6-FY Dissertation Core 30
02 PA407-6-FY Current Debates in Depth Psychology Compulsory 30
03 PA408-6-SP Contemporary Therapeutic Practice Compulsory 15
04 PA409-6-FY Reflective Practice Compulsory 15
05 PA229-6-SP Organisational Dynamics - Theory Compulsory 15
06 Option from list or outside option Optional 15

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

This course aims to provide students with solid understanding of a range of schools within psychoanalysis and psychodynamic thinking, the problems they address, as well as their applications to a number of fields. It provides a theoretical foundation for further training in a career in psychotherapy or counselling, as well as in the humanities or social sciences. It also provides a solid basis in psychodynamic thinking, child, adolescent and adult development, and the dynamics of therapeutic interventions in organisations.

Beginning with an introduction to psychodynamic concepts as applied to individuals, relationships and organisations, the course goes on to provide a comprehensive account of child and adult development and critical overviews of both Freudian and Jungian psychology. From this foundation, psychodynamic approaches are then applied thematically to diverse areas of personal and cultural life such as literature, film, sexuality, war, and trauma, with substantial attention placed upon findings and approaches from clinical work and therapeutic practice.

More particularly, this programme aims:

1. To provide a solid psychoanalytic vocabulary and understanding of unconscious dimensions of human experience, relationships, communication and culture
2. To provide students with a good understanding of the history of the discipline, and the different schools of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic thinking
3. To provide a psychodynamic perspective on child, adolescent and adult development and difficulties
4. To understand the role of emotions in learning, behaviour, and social development
5. To understand the concept and significance of trauma and its effects
6. To understand the psychodynamics of groups and institutions
7. To provide a space and process by which students can explore and reflect upon the intersection between their academic, personal and professional selves

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 Solid knowledge of the basic psychoanalytic concepts and of its different applications in fields from psychotherapy to the humanities
A2 Knowledge and understanding of the history of psychoanalysis and of its different schools
A3 Psychodynamic understanding of the emotional factors that affect learning, relationships and behaviour.
A4 Understanding of the psychodynamic frame of therapeutic relationships
A5 Knowledge of the psychodynamics of human development and disturbance
A6 Knowledge of the psychodynamic understanding of trauma and its influence on individuals and organisations
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5), lectures, the experience of reflective groups (A2, A3, A6) and field trips.
Assessment Methods: Essays, exams, presentation, reflective report, observation summary.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 To define and use specific psychoanalytic concepts describing relationships and communication, including transference, counter-transference, projection, introjection, etc
B2 To describe and differentiate the different psychoanalytic authors, schools and their ideas.
B3 To describe the emotional factors that affect psychological development, relationships and behaviour
B4 To describe psychoanalytically therapeutic processes and practice
B5 To discern unconscious dynamics in wider society, politics and culture (e.g. in relation to gender, race, disability, etc.).
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars (B1, B4), lectures, (B2, B5, B6) and the experience of reflective groups.
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by exams, essay, presentation, reflective commentary and observation commentary.

C: Practical skills

C1 Capacity for applying psychodynamic understanding to a range of experiences
C2 Capacity for academic writing in the humanities
C3 Capacity for developing a research project/research skills
C4 Capacity to recognize and describe situations and interactions in institutions in psychodynamic terms.
C5 Capacity to recognize and describe human interactions in relation to unconscious dynamics
C6 Capacity to reflect on one's own experience and take ownership of one's own learning
C7 Capacity for Public presentation
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars (C1, C2, C3), clinically orientated seminars (C4, C5, C6), and reflective practice (C4, C5, C6, C7).
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by exams, essay, presentation, reflective commentary and observation comentary

D: Key skills

D1 To communicate effectively with colleagues and begin to practice communication skills that could be applied clinically
D2 To use e-mail, Moodle and electronic submission of assessed work.
D3 To develop a capacity to make a formulation based on psychodynamic understanding and to take a view on appropriate therapeutic interventions; to decide on specific topics for essays.
D4 To work in collaborative groups including reflective experiential groups with an emphasis on learning about one's own contribution to a good working group
D5 To work independently, including through e-based learning and to learn through practice and self-reflection, to engage in independent research towards a dissertation.
Learning Methods: The programme makes use of theoretical seminars (D1, D3), lectures, the experience of reflective groups (D1. D4).

Students also make presentations linked to an individual research project (D1, D5).

Finally, students utitise information technology by using email, electronic submission of assessed work, and use of moodle as a learning repository (D2).
Assessment Methods: Formal assessment is by essay, exams, reflective observations and presentations.


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: