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Psychoanalytic Studies (MA)

Course Description

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.

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

Student Profiles

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 upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in any discipline relevant to the programme, including most humanities and social science disciplines, such as psychology, history, English, languages, sociology, politics, philosophy and cultural studies. In exceptional circumstances, the admissions tutor will consider applicants who do not meet this criterion but who have substantial relevant professional experience (for example, in teaching, journalism, social work, counselling and psychotherapy, mediation, development work) 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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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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