Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies

Undergraduate studies

Man looking out onto scenic view

Understand yourself and others

Have you ever heard the phrase 'the interpretation of dreams is in fact the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious?' Maybe you've heard about Freud's ‘repetition compulsion’ and the ‘Oedipus complex’, or Jung’s personality types, the ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’? Or, did you know we all have a ‘self-regulating psyche’?

At Essex, you learn about these ideas and why they matter, and study psychoanalysis as a theory and method of investigation into the human mind and social world.


Explore our undergraduate courses


Why choose us?
  • Our graduates go on to have careers that make a difference to people's health and lives.
  • Located in one of the UK's leading universities for Social Sciences (REF 2014) - you are taught by senior clinicians and world class scholars
  • We teach in small groups to ensure you feel supported throughout your studies.

What is psychoanalysis?

Sometimes we say things out loud we don't intend to, forget the name of someone we don’t like, or repeat behaviours we don’t consciously intend. According to the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, this is the influence of the unconscious mind revealing our hidden, internal conflicts and underlying concerns.

Psychoanalysis helps develop a deeper awareness of ourselves and others by exploring the influence of the unconscious mind. It's a talking therapy which helps us understand our internal conflicts, take control of thoughts and emotions, and improve our well-being. But psychoanalysis is also a conceptual model used to explore conflicts in society, and how these impact people. For example, we examine film and literature, develop responses to mental health or anti-social behaviour, the problems of childhood, politics, history and religion.  

Why? We want to know more about ourselves and others, why we feel and behave as we do. If we can study this then we can also find a way to improve ourselves and the world around us. This is what psychosocial and psychoanalytic studies offers. So, if you're fascinated by relationships and want to make a difference, study psychoanalysis at Essex.

“The staff are the best. They’re supportive and want you to succeed as a student, but most importantly as an individual. They don’t want you to just get the work done, they want you to ask questions and explore the unknown.” 
Bradley Quinlan ba psychoanalytic studies

Your degree

You study the fascinating and sometimes controversial work of Freud, and renowned psychoanalyst Jung, and learn why their ideas about the mind matter. 

You explore psychoanalysis as a theory and method of investigation into the mind and the social world, bringing the psyche and the social together.

We delve deeper than conventional psychology, looking at the person as a whole, the emotions we feel and the way we behave in our unconscious mind, in a group and in society. This means we can look at our inner most desires, fantasies and what drives our behaviour so we can improve ourselves and the world around us.

Founded over 20 years ago on the great Essex tradition of interdisciplinarity, we're home to internationally-recognised experts from a range of disciplines within the wider field of ‘depth psychology’. You'll meet them in your lectures and classes, collaborating with them to excel in your studies. We also teach you in small groups, ensuring you're supported by our academics throughout your course.

How will teaching in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies be delivered in 2020?

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to.

What will this mean for my learning experience?

For the 2020 academic year, we are focusing on ensuring that we are able to deliver a quality education and that your teaching and learning can continue if there is further disruption. That’s why we’ve been working hard to ensure that our students are able to start with us in October – in whatever way possible. The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online/ virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced WiFi provision across our campuses.

There will be podcasts and films, audio clips, and excerpts from key texts waiting for you to dive into the adventure of your BA degree. We are going to hold virtual ‘tea and chats’, lots of online and face-to-face social events, and Psychoanalysis Society events too.

What happens if the situation changes before I start or during my time at Essex?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start the academic year. If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes. In this guide you will also find specific information which relates to non-UK nationals planning to travel to Essex from abroad.

What will my broader student experience be like?

We are committed to making sure we get to know each and every one of you, whilst ensuring you enjoy a safe environment which allows you to get to know each other. We’re a community and a warm enabling academic environment. We’re going to enable you to succeed in your studies as well as have a great time socially. You’ll find everyone in our Department to be really friendly and helpful. We firmly believe that we are all here to help each other on this journey of discovery, change and transformation. Outside of the Department, our incredible Students’ Union are busy getting ready for October and making sure your experience of joining Essex in 2020 is the best it can possibly be.

As the Government advice over the coming weeks and months changes, we will continue to respond to public health guidelines ensuring that our teaching plans, social distancing measures and social activities prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. This may mean you are required to wear face masks or adhere to other social distancing measures. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit a University of Essex campus, visit our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority, and this has been one of the focuses to ensure students can start on campus – safely – in October.

This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will be looking to introduce the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students.

There is a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them.

These include:

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions. To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

As we can't meet face to face...

We may not be able to meet in person but we're still available to chat online. From students and alumni to academics, the Essex community is here and ready for a chat.

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