Birkbeck is a leading centre for the study of the origins, history and cultural context of psychoanalysis. Our approach is distinctive and highly interdisciplinary. The MA Psychoanalytic Studies is jointly run by the Departments of Psychosocial Studies and of History, Classics and Archaeology, which allows you to study the origins of psychoanalysis, its history over its first 120 years of life, its main ideas and their applications, both within and outside the therapeutic context, and in particular how it has been taken up and contested in different social and cultural situations.
Taught by a wide range of leading academics and psychoanalytic practitioners, the programme explores how psychoanalytic thought has been used to illuminate pressing social and political concerns, and examines the controversies that have always surrounded it. It focuses on the interface between psychoanalysis as an evolving clinical practice, as a form of knowledge, and as a mode of critique. The programme examines key psychoanalytic concepts in detail and places those concepts in context. It will enable you to closely study the numerous modern developments within psychoanalysis, from Freud through to contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice. You will also explore the methodological, epistemological and ethical issues that have resulted from diverse elaboration and extension of psychoanalytic ideas, not only in a clinical setting, but also in social and cultural inquiries, and in the interpretation of the historical past.
The MA asks how far modern thought on war and other forms of violent conflict, fascism, terrorism, racism and xenophobia has had an influence on the way we think about the unconscious mind, and vice versa. It also investigates how psychoanalytic accounts of inter-personal and intra-psychic relationships have shaped - or been shaped by - wider cultural attitudes to love, intimacy and destructiveness, and about the place of these accounts in discussions of gender and sexuality, racism and postcolonialism.
This programme has good links with the British Psycho-Analytical Society through its teaching staff and also because the Society's Foundation Course in Psychoanalysis can be taken as an option module by students on the MA. For students with strong clinical interests, this arrangement provides an exceptional opportunity to be taught psychoanalytic theory by some of the most senior and eminent psychoanalysts in the country.
Teaching staff on this programme include Lisa Baraitser, Stephen Frosh, Daniel Pick and Jacqueline Rose. This group of academics brings together world-leading researchers in psychosocial studies, history, literary studies and clinical practice.
Why study this course at Birkbeck?
Interdisciplinary programme stretching across the social sciences, arts and humanities. Explores the relationship of psychoanalysis to historical and cultural issues. Provides an opportunity to engage critically with key psychoanalytic concepts and to understand them in their historical and cultural context. The Department of Psychosocial Studies has a formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This link enables students on this programme to undertake an optional module at the university as part of their programme of study at Birkbeck. Birkbeck Library is very well stocked with material relevant to psychoanalysis, history and culture. There are many events relevant to psychoanalysis put on by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research. The link with the British Psychoanalytical Society ensures connections with practising psychoanalysts. As well as the core programme staff, lectures on our summer programme are likely to be given by internationally renowned Birkbeck associates.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.
Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.
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