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
We offer you a unique opportunity to study psychoanalytic and psychosocial ideas and their applications with lecturers who are leading researchers and clinicians in their fields.
Our course has been repeatedly commended for delivering inspiring content and achieving spectacular academic results.
Our graduates go on to pursue exciting careers in many diverse fields including in the national and international charity sectors, policy and social work, clinical settings, as well as pursuing further academic research.
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.
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:
NHS Mental Health work
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.
UK entry requirements
BTEC: DDM, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 554.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits Merit
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
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 select
your country page
where you'll find this information.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
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. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, 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.
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:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
Understanding Individuals Groups and Organisations : An Introduction to Psychodynamic Concepts
How do unconscious dynamics work in individuals, groups and organisations? How can psychodynamic insight be applied to this? Explore how individuals affect one another, how institutions affect those who work there and vice versa. Understand key concepts in psychodynamic thinking and how to apply this to individuals, groups and workplaces.
Child, Adolescent and Adult Development: Loss, Conflict and Growth
How are foundations of emotional development laid down in early life? What impact do early experiences have on future social and learning? Study personality development from a psychodynamic and attachment perspective. Examine key development stages to see how work with clients requires understanding of the initial roots of their difficulties.
What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Freud’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.
The Unconscious: Analytical Psychology, Culture and Society - Jung
What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Jung’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.
Popular Film, Literature and Television: A Psychosocial Approach
How can we use psychoanalytic theory to understand film, literature and television? What is culture and can it contribute to our understanding of psychoanalysis itself? Examine work by Freud and Jung, as well as more contemporary perspectives, through the lens popular culture.
Assignment and Research Writing for Psychoanalytic Studies
Want guidance in understanding your course? Know how your academic skills will transfer to the world of work? Develop your abilities to undertake independent research. Learn to read critically and to write clearly. Build the employability skills that will help you during your studies and after graduation.
This introductory, two-term module foregrounds the ‘psychosocial’ in the BA in Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies. Whilst deeply rooted in a range of theoretical ideas, the module will be selective in its treatment of the psychosocial, and illustrative of further areas of study to come at later points in the degree.
The module’s main point of emphasis will be on ‘imagination’, in a dual sense. Both how we might imagine the ‘psychosocial’ as a discipline, with its specific forms of knowledge, theoretical frames and domains of application, but also in the sense that psychosocial studies might give weight to forms of imagination and representation in their capacity to link subjective and embodied existence with social life.
Following your first year modules, this module will build on Freudian theory and introduce more advanced topics. You will explore the work of Melanie Klein and the British Object Relations School of psychoanalysis and learn how they have used and interpreted Freudian concepts.
This module builds on analytical psychology and develops your insight into Jungian theory. You explore how Post Jungians have applied Jung’s theories and ideas to various topics such as gender, art, literature, religion and politics.
In this module we examine some of the developments in psychoanalytic theory with a special focus on the figure of the child. We consider some of the debates surrounding the development of psychoanalysis of children through the work of Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Anna Freud, amongst others. We pay attention to the importance of play and practices of observation to understand how and why the figure of the child has been central to the development of psychoanalytic thought.
Violence and Containment: A Psychosocial Approach to Physical and Psychological Violence
Why are some people violent towards children? What are the underlying reasons for antisocial behaviour? Examine psychodynamic thinking to issues around aggression, violence and antisocial behaviour, as well wider socio-political topics. Explore psychodynamic applications in social and health care, culture and society.
This module explores the work of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan made links between psychoanalysis and linguistics, anthropology, literature and philosophy. What we consider to be our most intimate features, such as self-image, desire and phantasy, are in fact constituted by something outside and beyond ourselves – the ‘symbolic’ law of language and society. You will learn about Lacan’s theory of the ‘mirror phase’, our constitution through others, and the importance of being a speaking being.
This module explored a wide range of children’s fiction, both written for children and about children. You read and analyse popular children’s literature from ‘Where the Wild Things are’ to ‘Matilda’. You will build your knowledge of how the perceptions of childhood have changed over the last century and the types of ideals being projected onto the world of children through literature.
Members of staff from the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies will use aspects of their research to open up debates in depth psychology and psychosocial studies. These may touch on issues of continuing importance for the contemporary discipline, or newly emerging questions. The content will vary from year to year so as to remain innovative and attuned to what is most recent in the field, but may include topics such as gender and intimacy, clinical cases, racism and neuro-psychoanalysis.
This module gives you an introduction to how depth psychological approaches are applied in contemporary psychotherapeutic work. It will help you understand the wide range of different applications – not only in theoretical orientation but also in the intensity of treatment, length of treatment and client age-group, in group, family and couple work as well as individual work, and in non-clinical settings. It will give you a sense of the psychotherapeutic landscape and the prospects for applying the learning from the degree in future.
It will also give further insight into the psychotherapeutic process
This module allows you to develop your reflective awareness and learn how to use psychodynamic understanding in relation to yourself as well as to the different aspects of the worlds you inhabit. You will develop an appreciation of unconscious and emotional communication in everyday life, and be able to engage critically and reflectively with contemporary topics. You will contribute actively to the design of the module, identifying with your peers areas of interest for psychoanalytic reflection. Reflective practice is represented by the following components: participating in Reflective Groups, maintaining a Reflective Journal and writing an end of year Reflective Report.
What happens when people get together and work in groups? This module aims to help you understand the conscious and unconscious dynamics at work in organisations and the effect that this can have as a result. You will a deeper understanding of organisational dynamics and a greater capacity for psychodynamic observation, enabling you to apply psychodynamic insight to a wide range of settings.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at email@example.com
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
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.