How do we become who we are? Is emotion as strong a driver as reason? What explains our stranger compulsions and desires? Does all behaviour have meaning – even when it appears to be irrational?
Psychoanalysis is an interdisciplinary field of studies and clinical practices, gathering over 100 years of theorization and clinical experience in framing its ideas and concepts about the mind, emotions, social relations, motivation, psychopathology and psychotherapy.
Understanding human experience means looking not only at how we act and relate, but crucially also requires looking inside at what is going on below the surface. In this course you look at the psychological factors that influence our emotions, behaviours and relationships and shape our everyday lives. To understand these factors you will learn psychodynamic concepts, applying them to individuals, relationships and organisations and of course, you will study the pioneering works of Freud, Jung and Lacan.
Here are some of the questions we might cover. Why do we fall in love with certain kinds of people but struggle to relate to others? Why do we get stuck, or lose direction in life? What explains our stranger compulsions and desires? Why are some people prone to psychological illness while others seem to thrive in adversity?
- Psychoanalytic and psychosocial approaches
- Child, adolescent and adult development
- Trauma and recovery: A psychodynamic approach
- Understanding individuals, groups and organisations
- Popular Film, Literature and Television: A Psychoanalytic Approach (Freud and Jung)
- Freud: Mind, Culture and Society
- Where the Wild Things Are: Literature, Childhood, Psychoanalysis
- Current debates in depth psychology
- Psychoanalysis and the child
Our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is internationally recognised as one of the leading departments for work on the role of the unconscious mind in mental health, as well as in culture and society more generally. We are top 10 in the UK for research (REF 2014), and consistently receive strong student satisfaction scores.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
This course allows you to spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is internationally recognised as one of the leading departments for work that focuses on the role of the unconscious mind in mental health, as well as in culture and society generally. Our teaching is deeply grounded in knowledge deriving from clinical practice, to which our highest standards of academic thinking are then applied.
Our staff blend clinical experience and expertise in their field with the academic rigour for which the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies has such a reputation. You will be taught by lecturers who have years of experience, both in working directly with troubled individuals and groups and delivering lectures and seminars on specialist topics.
This gives you the opportunity to work with and be taught by senior clinicians and world-class scholars in their fields.
This course is led by Julie Walsh, whose current research projects include Face-Work; investigating the changing role of the face in therapeutic encounter, and Not Mother; a creative-critical writing project that explores what the figure of ‚not-mother’ may have to offer a world that seems in such dire need of mothering.
Our staff specialise in areas ranging from psychoanalysis and neuroscience, to practical therapies and anxiety in criminal psychopaths, to oral history interviewing. More information on their research is available on our staff pages.
You will experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests:
- You will have access to the Albert Sloman Library, which houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
- The Department has its own dedicated library of specialist texts which inform and influence our research
- Free evening Open Seminars on topics relevant to psychoanalysis which are open to students, staff and members of the public.
In undertaking this course you’ll study a range of psychoanalytic concepts – applying them to individuals, relationships and organisations, which will provide you with a unique perspective of why we are the way we are, on understanding others and knowing how to relate to them, which will make you suited for further clinical training, postgraduate study in different fields, or employment.
Key areas of employment for people with these skills include marketing, advertising, human resources, management, the media, care work, teaching or health care. Our future graduates may go to work in a wide range of careers, including:
- Therapeutic services
- NHS Mental Health work
- Psychoanalytic therapy
- Social Care
- Therapeutic Consultancy
- Management Consultancy
- Marketing and Public Relations
We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.
Why we’re great
- You’ll be taught by lecturers who bring both academic and practical knowledge from years of working with children.
- Many of our graduates go on to have careers that make a difference to people’s health and lives.
- Our students learn in small groups with expert practitioners and academics.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
- Teaching takes place in relatively small seminars and fora, with a focus on group discussion
- Discussion in seminars includes both discussing other peoples’ work and discussing your own experiences in the workplace
- You also undertake supervised clinical practice, participate in skills based workshops, and teach others through presentation of theoretical readings and clinical cases
- Your grade is made up of coursework marks, including essays and reflective reports and exam marks.