Postgraduate Research Course

Professional Doctorate Psychodynamic Counselling

Professional Doctorate Psychodynamic Counselling


The details
Psychodynamic Counselling
October 2024
3 - 4 years
Colchester Campus

Would you like to build on your clinical training by learning about research methods and then applying this to a topic of your choice? If so, you can study at the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic studies at the University of Essex, where we have an established tradition of combining clinical thinking with research expertise.

This allows you to further your own professional development, explore the area of greatest interest to you and make an original contribution to the development of your profession. Our professional doctorates constitute the academic and research component, building on what you have already studied and achieved in your professional training.

The Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is uniquely positioned to offer a professional doctorate of this kind. The department has a long and rich history of bringing clinicians and researchers from a wide range of orientations into fruitful collaboration and has a thriving research community. On this programme you will have access, alongside the specific course content, to all elements of the department's provision, bringing you into contact with leading practitioners and researchers in your field as well as an exciting group of both staff and student researchers in related areas.

This degree constitutes the academic and research top-up for graduates with at least masters-level training in psychodynamic counselling of at least 3 years' duration. It will also support students towards personal BACP accreditation.

There are few comparable doctorates available. This course enables those who have already completed a full relevant training to add the academic and research component to gain a doctorate and to contribute to the field.

The course aims to provide you with relevant knowledge and skills so that you can conduct a rigorous piece of original research in the field of psychodynamic counselling. This could be theoretical/literature-based or empirical, employing qualitative or quantitative methodologies.

The aim of the taught first year is to enable you, a qualified Psychodynamic Counsellor, graduate of an MA/MSc Psychodynamic training, to make the transition from practitioner to researcher, to decide on your research question, design and methodology and to prepare for your empirical project. Assignments in the first year are all directly connected to and will provide elements of the final thesis.

In years 2 and 3 you will be supported in supervision and workshops in conducting your individual doctoral research project.

To arrange an informal conversation, please email Professor Sue Kegerreis or Dr Deborah Wright

Why we're great.
  • Our research and teaching is deeply grounded in knowledge deriving from clinical practice, to which our highest standards of academic thinking are then applied.
  • Access to many of Freud's letters and works in the ‘Special Collections' housed in the University of Essex Library as well as use of the library services including PEBWEB access.
  • Be part of a strong department and international Research Community and benefit from many events throughout the year.

Our expert staff

Within our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff (which may include co-supervision from colleagues located in another department).

The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Once a year you you will have a supervisory panel meeting involving one or two additional staff, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next phase of your work.

Specialist facilities

If you are studying within our Department, you will have access to our extensive facilities to aid your learning and research. In particular, our Albert Sloman Library is well stocked with books, journals, electronic resources and major archives relevant to our work and, in addition, we have our own library of specialist books and journals.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a Masters degree in Psychodynamic Counselling from a BACP accredited programme.

With your application you should provide:
  • Evidence of BACP membership
  • An up to date CV
  • Masters degree transcript or certificate

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.


Course structure

The research component, normally three years of part-time study, offers a structured programme aimed at enhancing your research skills and contributing to the development of the field. It consists of research and methodology seminars, research workshops and individual academic supervision, leading to a 40,000 word thesis.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Literature Review

This module provides knowledge and support in preparing a rigorous literature review to take its place in the final thesis. It will help you develop good literature search strategies and to be able to justify your choice of literature covered. You will be assisted in constructing a literature review which is not only a report on literature studied but an argument developing through your exploration of the relevant sources to which your project will contribute.

View Literature Review on our Module Directory


Research Methodologies and Research Design

This module provides knowledge of different methodological approaches to research. It will provide you with a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, including those most relevant to and informed by psychoanalytic thinking and practice. Supported by ongoing individual supervision and your own independent doctoral studies, you will be in a position by the end of the module to write a paper on the methodological issues involved in your project and to describe and justify your chosen research design.

View Research Methodologies and Research Design on our Module Directory


Research Proposal

This module provides support in producing a revised research proposal which will form the basis of the introduction chapter in the thesis.

View Research Proposal on our Module Directory


Advanced Clinical Practice

This module supports you in your advanced development as psychodynamic practitioners. Regular clinical seminars and technique workshops will enable you to consolidate and improve your practice. Sharing good practice with peers and tutors will hone your capacity to respond effectively in client work.

View Advanced Clinical Practice on our Module Directory


Research Processes

This module aids you in managing and reflecting on the change in mind-set from being a clinician to becoming a researcher. This will provide material for the reflective element in the final thesis. You will attend a series of seminars and reflective groups in which topics such the efficacy and value of research for clinical practice, the distinction between clinical and research identity, and ethical research practice will be addressed and explored. This module provides support relating to the ethical aspects of conducting your chosen research project and the process of applying for and gaining ethical approval. Issues of consent and the role of the unconscious in research will be considered. There will be opportunities to learn about and to reflect on the emotional journey of the researcher through the project.

View Research Processes on our Module Directory



This is the research thesis in which a topic of choice is explored in depth generating new knowledge. It will draw on the learning from all the other modules and will be supported by the essays generated as assignments for those models, which will constitute the groundwork for several chapters of the thesis.

View Thesis on our Module Directory



This is the research thesis in which a topic of choice is explored in depth generating new knowledge. It will draw on the learning from all the other modules and will be supported by the essays generated as assignments for those models, which will constitute the groundwork for several chapters of the thesis.

View Thesis on our Module Directory


The teaching on the course combines a combination, of 1-2 teaching days teaching on Campus during per term during the first year and 1-2 days online live taught classes per term in the first year. You will also attend clinical seminars on a weekly basis through term-times. Where you will be taught variety of lectures, seminars, workshops, reflective groups and one to one academic supervision monthly throughout the course. There will also be a once yearly Post graduate Conference on Campus and other workshops and events both for the Professional doctoral programmes and for the research student community.

Each supervisory process is unique in its rhythm, style and content and, therefore, you and your supervisor might in discussion agree to vary the nature and timing of each stage of your research.


There are essays at the end of the first, second and third terms, all of which have the potential to become chapters in your final thesis. Thereafter you will work towards the 40,000 word thesis, which will be examined in a viva in the same way as a PhD.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£5,000 per year

International fee

£9,375 per year

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

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Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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