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Psychosocial Studies (MPhil)

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 postcolonial 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 life.

This research degree offers an exciting research environment in which to pursue psychosocial research, as well as supervisory expertise across a number of disciplines, including psychoanalytic theory, social theory, philosophy, social anthropology, literature, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, and media and cultural studies. Our programme aims to provide an excellent forum for students to carry out theoretical or applied research in the broad area of psychosocial studies, focusing particularly on innovative interdisciplinary work. We actively promote interactive graduate life, with multiple resources for fostering a rich postgraduate community at Birkbeck.

Recent research topics include:

Real fathers and Huffy Henrys: searching for the symbol in Lacan and Berryman
Mothering and the emergence of hate
Helping adolescents: a discursive analysis of young adults' talk of prosocial behaviour
Intimate autonomy: gender as ethical possibility
Being good at maths: a precarious occupation
Living with ADHD diagnosis: a disordering of family life
How are the existing biological relationships with families affected by fostering?
Turkish migrant experiences
The role of national identification in mental structure.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

The Department of Psychosocial Studies has an active and vigorous research culture. This includes regular workshops, many visiting speakers, and numerous collaborative projects both within London, and at national and international levels.
The MPhil/PhD programme provides an excellent forum for you to develop and enhance your specialist, as well as more general transferable, research skills. The programme allows you to gain insight into different research methods and acquire valuable experience both in carrying out large-scale research projects and teaching.
The Department of Psychosocial Studies has a formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This link enables you to undertake an optional module at the university as part of your programme of study at Birkbeck.

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 (MPhil) 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.'


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

First- or good second-class honours degree in a relevant subject in the humanities or social sciences. We encourage successful completion of a taught Master's degree. A detailed outline of your research proposal, specifying its significance and originality.If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 2187 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 4121 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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