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Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical) - MSc

Course Description

This MSc gives students a grounding in the nature, history, content and context of psychoanalytic theory, as used by practising psychoanalysts. It provides a comprehensive introduction to current psychoanalytic thinking, rooted in the history and development of ideas and with attention to the application of psychoanalytic ideas to other fields.

Degree information

Students learn about the medical and cultural context in which psychoanalysis began, through to contemporary clinical and theoretical perspectives. The teaching programme has a firm basis in the works of Sigmund Freud, but represents the breadth of the British psychoanalytic traditions, as well as major international contributions, the interface with the arts, and how psychoanalysis fits in with modern science.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core taught modules (120 credits) and a conceptual research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules
-Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Theory
-Major Schools of Psychoanalysis
-Core Psychoanalytic Theory
-Applications of Psychoanalysis

Please note:
Students accepted on to the Foundation Course at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London can request to be assessed on the Foundation Course's theoretical lecture material by UCL as part of the Foundation Course Optional Pathway. This assessment will count as one module of the MSc Theoretical Psychoanalytical Studies programme.

Those given approval can choose to register for the 99PSGFC1 Foundation Course MSc module, in place of the PSYCGT13 Applications of Psychoanalysis module.

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000–12,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. The various seminar series are organised by experienced psychoanalysts or academics who are experts in the field concerned. Student performance is assessed through unseen written examination, coursework in the form of essays, and the dissertation.


This MSc provides a very good background to formal clinical training in psychoanalysis, adult or child psychotherapy or counselling and nearly half of our graduates pursue these options. A similar number continue with their academic studies either at UCL or elsewhere, often registering for a PhD in either psychoanalytic theory or empirical research. Some graduates progress to the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, often at UCL which has the largest programme in the UK.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Support Worker, Turning Point
-Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology
-Research Degree: Division of Psychol and Lang Sci, University College London (UCL)
-Lecturer, Kingston University and studying PhD Philosophy, Kingston University
-Systems Psychologist, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

This programme acts as a springboard especially for further clinical or theoretical training in the field (although it is not itself a clinical qualification). The teaching is organised and provided by eminent academics and psychoanalysts with international reputations. The option to take the Institute of Psychoanalysis Foundation Course, part of which counts towards the degree, helps with that career path. Many other able students go on to research posts in the unit or with our large network of clinical research collaborators in London and around the world.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Psychoanalysis Unit is a thriving academic centre for psychoanalytic research, with its own MPhil/PhD programme alongside the MSc. It has affiliations with the International Psychoanalytic Association, the Institute of Psychoanalysis, the Anna Freud Centre, the Menninger Clinic, and leading scholars at Yale and Harvard Universities. The unit is based within UCL's Division of Psychology & Language Sciences which undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour and language.

Our work attracts staff and students from around the world, creating an outstanding and vibrant environment. Opportunities for graduate students to work with world-renowned researchers can exist in all areas of investigation, from basic processes to applied research. The division offers a supportive environment including numerous specialist seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.

Visit the Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical) - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree in any subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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