Module Details

SC934-7-SP-CO: Biography And Psychosocial Research

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2017/18
Department: Sociology
Essex credit: 20
ECTS credit: 10
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Professor Michael Roper
Teaching Staff: Professor Mike Roper
Contact details: Michele Hall, Graduate Administrator, Telephone 01206 873051, Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module gives students a practical and methodological grounding in social research that draws on psychoanalytic ideas and techniques. It introduces various traditions of such research, from psycho-biography, oral history and narrative approaches to the 'free association interview'. It then considers the particular methodological issues involved in psycho-social research using personal sources such as diaries, memoirs, letters and interviews, and the kinds of insights about subjectivity that can be gleaned from these sources. These sessions will be based on the close examination and analysis of examples of testimony, and students will be encouraged to conduct an interview of their own. Later weeks will focus on psychoanalytic concepts such as transference, and their application to biographical research. The module is designed, through its focus on the process of producing, reading and reflecting on personal testimony, to foster understanding and critical assessment of the approaches used in psycho-social research. What does the social researcher gain by drawing on psychoanalytic concepts such as transference, and what skills are required in order to do so successfully? What potential problems arise when psychoanalytic ideas are exported from the clinic to disciplines such as sociology or history? Assessment will consist of an interview and self-reflection, and an essay based on the interpretation of a biographical source.

Learning and Teaching Methods


100 per cent Coursework Mark


A biographical project of 3,500 words based on the analysis of an interview or other personal testimony.


  • S. Frosh, Psychoanalysis Outside the Clinic (Palgrave, London: 2010)
  • W. Hollway and T. Jefferson, Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free Association, Narrative and the Interview Method (London: 2000)
  • S. D. Sclater, D. W. Jones, H. Price and C. Yates, Emotion. New Psychosocial Perspectives (Palgrave, London: 2009)
  • D. Gadd and J. Jefferson, Psychosocial Criminology (London: 2007)
  • S. Clarke and P. Hoggett (eds.), Researching Beneath the Surface: Psycho-Social Research Methods in Practice (London: 2009)
  • S. Clarke et al., Object Relations and Social Relations. The Implications of the Relational Turn in Psychoanalysis (London: 2008)
  • I. Craib, Psychoanalysis. A critical introduction (London: 2001)

Further information