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Psychosocial Studies (MA)

Course Description

Psychosocial Studies is a leading department in this interdisciplinary field that brings together social, cultural and psychosocial researchers. The department has developed a distinctive approach to research and teaching that draws on a range of critical frameworks including psychoanalytic theory, social theory, feminist and queer theory, cultural and post-colonial studies and qualitative psychosocial methodologies. In our research we aim to connect discussions of our precarious and increasingly interconnected collective fates with our most intimate personal and psychic lives.

Some of the research strands in the department include: violence, state violence and conflict; intimacy, parenting, care and personal life; human rights, social responsibility and helping behaviour; public cultures, social movements, citizenship and social identities; postcolonial urban cultures and histories of 'race' and racism; gender and sexuality; emotional development, psychic change and ageing.

The MA is designed for graduates from a wide range of backgrounds, who are looking to develop an in-depth understanding of the relation between individual subjectivities and identities, and historical and contemporary social and political formations.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Designed for graduates looking to develop an in-depth understanding of the relation between individual subjectivities and identities, and historical and contemporary social and political formations.
Department of Psychosocial Studies staff are internationally recognised figures at the forefront of this important new field of studies.
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.
You will have access to both the Birkbeck Library and Senate House Library. All postgraduates at Birkbeck benefit from a wide range of advantages related to the central location of the College, its varied and rich postgraduate life and the diversity of overlapping Master's programmes.
There are also 3 College research institutes of relevance to students on this degree: Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality. Each organises regular talks and masterclasses, which our students can attend.

Our research

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.

Visit the Psychosocial Studies (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Olga McSweeney

4111.jpg Olga was ready for the challenge of postgraduate study, when she discovered Birkbeck:
'While I have never really stopped studying since my undergraduate degree, I have undertaken only short courses or professional qualifications. At this stage of my life and career I desired an intellectual challenge, which an MA course definitely provides.

'Everyone knows Birkbeck is one of the best places to study in London. I had a taste when I was doing a three-month course in History and was really impressed with the quality of teaching.

'The way the course was put together covered most of the areas I was interested in. Other places offer either pure Psychology or Sociology, whereas the MA in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck offers an insight into a very broad and fascinating spectrum of topics and themes.

'I would advise prospective students to realistically assess how much time they can devote to reading, especially if they are working full-time. I saw some people spreading themselves too thinly trying to finish the course in one year. I have been enjoying the course so much, that I am pleased I have another year to look forward to.

'I have met some great people among my fellow students. There has been a lot of socialising, nights out and parties. There is more to the course than just a challenging reading list.'

(Student Profile)

Josh Cunliffe

4112.jpg 'Birkbeck was ideal for me because the evening tuition offered meant that I could return to study without having to give up my existing career as a television editor. It has a reputation for high quality research and a really interesting programme of visiting academics. Its central location is also really convenient for me.

'The MA in Psychosocial Studies is an interdisciplinary degree which draws from different disciplines - sociology, philosophy, psychoanalysis - which fascinate me. I think that the combination of subject areas means that the degree has a breadth and relevance that would be impossible within a single traditional discipline. Psychoanalysis in particular is a subject which is important and has a lot to offer, yet is often neglected in academic circles.

'Having teaching staff from different academic disciplines makes for a varied intellectual culture. It's also a really friendly and supportive place, and the staff manage to challenge the students whilst appreciating that we come from varying academic and social backgrounds.

'My biggest achievement is understanding challenging texts. When I am reading Lacan, for instance, I find that he now makes a great deal of sense to me, and I can really see how my understanding has developed in the space of a year. It has also been great to engage with some visiting academics.

'I would advise prospective students to be aware that even though the teaching is in the evening, a full-time course still requires a heavy time commitment, and you will be encouraged to cover a great deal of ground in the course. Talk to the staff if you have any concerns as they understand that most students here have daytime jobs or other time commitments, and they will help you to make it work.

'I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the MA Psychosocial Studies and aside from the academic rewards I have made some good new friends, and had a really sociable and stimulating year. I would recommend it to anyone.'


School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Bursary - Single Award

Applications are invited for one 'Postgraduate Taught' Bursary worth £6,000, to be awarded to a candidate with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School's 'Postgraduate Taught' programmes.This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the departments listed below; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This £6,000 award is in the form of a bursary (i.e., there is no 'fee waiver' but the bursary may be used towards payment of fees). If awarded to a part-time student, the bursary will be paid for two years of PGT study.Please note that in order to apply for funding you must also complete an application for a place at Birkbeck on an MA/MSc programme within the School of SSHP or the MPhil. Stud. in the Department of Philosophy, either before or at the same time as applying for funding.Prospective studentsCandidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Value of Scholarship(s)



This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This competition is open to new students only

Application Procedure

Before you apply, you should contact the relevant department for advice.Once you have identified a relevant programme, you will need to:Apply online for the relevant MA/MSc or MPhil. Stud. (Dept. of Philosophy) degree in the normal wayDownload the SSHP Postgraduate Taught Bursary Application Form Word iconThe SSHP Studentship application form should be returned to Jane Halstead, Assistant School Manager, via the following email address:[email protected] STATE ‘PGT BURSARY’ AND DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO IN THE ‘SUBJECT’ LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL.Any queries relating to the PGT Bursary can also be sent to this email address.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Minimum second-class honours degree or its equivalent in a discipline relevant to psychosocial studies, which includes most humanities and social science disciplines (such as psychology, sociology, politics, history, cultural studies). In exceptional circumstances, the admissions tutor will consider applicants who have substantial professional experience (for example, teaching, social work, counselling and psychotherapy, mediation, development work, arts and cultural industries) without a first degree, and who can demonstrate through interview and a written assignment that they have the required academic abilities to complete a Master's-level course.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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