Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Psychoanalytic Studies

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.

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.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 modules

You take the 2 core modules, which run for 10 weeks each and provide the main theoretical and historical course content. They cover primary psychoanalytic, historical and critical texts, as well as a wealth of secondary literature that addresses the applications of psychoanalytic theory to the analysis of history and culture.

You choose 2 option modules from a wide range of courses in psychosocial studies, history and other disciplines, covering topics such as: intimacy, violence, fascism and war; critical approaches to the unconscious; culture, community and identity; sexuality, history and sexual identities; and affect and illness. Alternatively, a limited number of students can apply to take the option module in psychoanalysis at the British Psychoanalytical Society (details subject to review).

You also undertake an Independent Research Module, to support you in choosing, developing and undertaking a piece of independent research (qualitative empirical or theoretical), culminating in a dissertation.

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.

Assessment methods

Written and practical assignments, oral presentations and a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words.

Qualifications

Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MA Full-time October 2016 - 1 years
MA Part-time October 2016 - 2 years
MA Full-time October 2017 - 1 years
MA Part-time October 2017 - 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus Bloomsbury WC1E 7HX South East

Get in touch

Remember to mention TARGETpostgrad when contacting universities.

Key information

Contact: 
Department of Psychosocial Studies
Telephone number: 
020 3073 8045