PSYCHOANALYTIC STUDIES (MA)
Year of entry
One year full-time or two years part-time
Minimum of two evenings a week full-time or one evening a week part-time, October to July
The MA Psychoanalytic Studies is jointly run by the Departments of Psychosocial Studies and History, Classics and Archaeology. It 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 leading academics, the course 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 social knowledge, and as a mode of critique. The course 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 course 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 course links with the British Psychoanalytical Society through events, teaching staff and also through the Society’s Foundation Course in Psychoanalysis, which you may apply to take as an option module on the MA. For those with strong clinical interests and the necessary experience, this arrangement provides an exceptional opportunity to be taught psychoanalytic theory by some of the most senior and eminent psychoanalysts in the country.
- In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.
- The Department of Psychosocial Studies has a formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This link enables students on this course with Portuguese language skills to undertake an option module at the university as part of their programme of study at Birkbeck.
- As well as the core course staff, lectures on our summer programme are given by internationally renowned Birkbeck associates.
- See our film Spaces of Psychoanalysis (2016), directed by Bartek Dziadosz and produced by Lily Ford of Birkbeck’s own Derek Jarman Lab.
You take three 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 one option module 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.
You may also take an option module at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
READ MORE ABOUT MODULES
INDICATIVE PSYCHOSOCIAL OPTION MODULES
- Culture, Community, Identity
- Education, Globalisation and Change
- Education, Power and Resistances
- Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Practice
- Texts and Interpretation
- Theories and Sites of the Psychosocial
INDICATIVE COLLEGE-WIDE OPTION MODULES
- Freud in the world: psychoanalysis, literary writing and the legacies of history
- Queer Histories/Queer Cultures
- Sex, Work and the Law: Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Modern History
- Theorising Gender
INDEPENDENT RESEARCH MODULE
Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. If there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.
At least a second-class honours degree (2:2), or equivalent, in any discipline relevant to the course, including most humanities and social science disciplines, such as psychology, history, English, languages, sociology, politics, philosophy and cultural studies.
In exceptional circumstances, you will be considered if you do not meet this criterion but have substantial relevant professional experience (for example, in teaching, journalism, social work, counselling and psychotherapy, mediation, development work) and can demonstrate through interview and a written assignment that you have the required academic abilities to complete a master’s-level course.
Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.
On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.
Apply now to secure your place. The earlier you apply, the sooner your application can be considered, and you can enrol. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS
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.
If you don’t meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.
If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.
The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:
- Courses of more than six months’ duration: Student visa
- Courses of less than six months’ duration: Standard Visitor visa
International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).
For full information, read our visa information for international students page.
CREDITS AND ACCREDITED PRIOR LEARNING (APL)
If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.