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Psychoanalytic studies (M16)

Join the UK’s first psychoanalytic studies course with deep roots in the British School of Psychoanalysis

This is the UK’s first psychoanalytic studies course with strong links in the British School of Psychoanalysis and the Tavistock model of infant and young child observation. The emphasis of this creative course is on learning from experience. You will be encouraged to use your own emotional responses and cultural knowledge, as well as the learnt theory, to help make sense of the ideas that you will be studying.

The course has a proud history of welcoming overseas students from a range of professional backgrounds, and re-extends its welcome to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, LGBTQI+ and other minority members whose lived experiences enrich the use of psychoanalysis as a tool to understand any object of study.

Students can achieve a Postgraduate Diploma after one year, or undertake the full two years of study (including a dissertation in the second year) and graduate from with a Master’s degree.

Please note: you may see the M16 course also referred to as PAMATP005 in communications from our application system.

About this course

Alongside the in-depth study of the origin and development of psychoanalytic concepts you will learn through observation and explore the application of psychoanalysis to aspects of contemporary culture and society, including to the culture of psychoanalysis itself.

The course consists of three strands:

  • observation
  • psychoanalytic theory
  • psychoanalytic theory as a mode of enquiry into culture and society


You will observe an infant or a young child at home or in a nursery setting and attend a small weekly seminar led by an experienced child psychotherapist. Infant observation allows for the detailed study of the unconscious processes that shape a baby or young child’s personality as they develop within the varied context of family or nursery relationships, and in the context of the different communities around each family.

It is an important aspect of an initial psychoanalytic education and provides a context in which psychoanalytic ideas become connected to human experience, engaging students’ emotions as well as minds.

Psychoanalytic theory

You will study the origin and development of fundamental concepts in psychoanalysis through Freud and Klein, as well as Bion, Winnicott, theoretical papers about sexuality and the post-Kleinians.

Senior psychotherapists and analysts will use their clinical experience to bring psychoanalytic ideas and methods to life. The approach to learning is through the close study of the primary psychoanalytic texts and this will provide you with a substantial first-hand foundation for further psychoanalytic study and its broader applications.

Psychoanalytic theory as a mode of enquiry into culture and society

You will explore the application of psychoanalytic ideas to art, film, narratives of self, music and the social and political applications of psychoanalysis, as well as to your specific interests in these fields.

Alongside examination of how a psychoanalytic perspective can enrich our understanding of the cultural wealth in diversity and difference, the module will also encourage the application of contemporary and historical psychoanalytic concepts to better understand and engage with the challenges to inclusive, anti-discriminatory learning about human development, including those associated with the culture of psychoanalysis itself.

Young child observation

You will observe a pre-school child in their family or nursery setting to learn about the emotional meaning of a child’s behaviour as they start to relate to others outside the family.


The aim of the dissertation (12,000-14,000 words) is to develop an application of psychoanalytic ideas and approaches to a subject of interest. Some students’ dissertations have been revised to become published articles and several former students have gone on to publish books.

Here are some titles of successfully completed dissertations:

  • The Maison Verte: a Transitional Space. An introduction to the work of Françoise Dolto
  • The Psychodynamics of an Émigré Family Business: Intergenerational Creativity and Survival
  • A Psychoanalytical Investigation into the Sense of Home in the Poetry of John Clare
  • Beguiling the Hours: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Boredom
  • (Dis)integration in a Foreign Land: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Migration
  • O My Days! A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Language of British Young Offenders in the 21st Century
  • Peace and Terror: Psychoanalytic concepts of psychosis and George Mitchell’s management of the Northern Ireland peace process
  • The beginning of the end of an affair? An exploration of psychoanalytic and psychiatric models of the mind in two cases of psychosis
  • The Death Instinct in the work of Ibsen (based on ‘Hedda Gabler’ and ‘The Master Builder’)
  • David Hockney: the Recovery of the Lost Loved Object

If you pass an additional interview, you may also attend clinical workshops and seminars. You can choose the workshops and seminars according to your interest and experience, but this additional programme may not be suitable for everyone. Please note that this is a bespoke part of the programme and fees are available on request.

Who is this course for?

This is a rewarding course for anyone interested in learning about psychoanalytic ideas and their application to the arts, politics, and literature. You may do this course out of general interest, be considering future clinical training or already be a practising clinician who wants to inform your professional practice.

This course serves as an excellent intermediary pathway for those unsure about whether they would like to work with children or adults, for example on our Foundations of psychodynamic psychotherapy (D58) or Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) courses.

We have welcomed students from a variety of backgrounds including law, medicine, the arts and journalism. Many have taken this course to gain a substantial and wide-ranging introduction to psychoanalysis and its applications.

Course details

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you have a degree or other qualification of equivalent level.

We also welcome your application if you do not have a standard educational background, or if you are currently engaged in, or wish to pursue, academic study rather than related professional work.


£8,900 per year (2024/25)


£17,800 per year (2024/25)

You will be charged course fees for each year of your course. If your course is longer than one year, the fees that you will be charged after the first year will be subject to an annual inflationary increase. This will either be an increase of 3% or the Consumer Price Inflation as on 1 September of that year – whichever is the greater. At its discretion, the Trust may determine a figure between these two rates. Please refer to our Student Fees & Refund Policy for further information.

Financial support may be available to help you fund your studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


The course is assessed with the submission of written essays for each module. You will also submit, in the first year, a portfolio of observations for the infant observation module.


Tuesdays from 2:00pm to 7:30pm (with a fortnightly 12:30pm start in the spring term) and Wednesdays from 3:45pm to 6:15pm.

Please note: Students can achieve a Postgraduate Diploma after one year, or undertake the full two years of study (including a dissertation in the second year) and graduate with a Master’s degree.

Many graduates of this course have:

  • gone on to further clinical training as adult or child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapists, or other psychological therapeutic trainings (about 60% follow this path)
  • used the learning to develop their existing clinical profession, often as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counsellors
  • gone on to doctoral level research in related fields of psychoanalysis and its clinical and cultural applications

Some graduates of our Foundations of psychodynamic psychotherapy (D58) or Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) courses have studied this course as an intermediary pathway if they were unsure about whether they would like to work with children or adults.

Why study with us?

This world renowned course has been running for over 20 years and will equip you with an in-depth understanding of psychoanalytic theory and its potential applications to other fields.

It will enable you to make links between theory and your own experience of watching unconscious processes unfold by undertaking an observation of a baby or young child. Crucially, it will offer you the opportunity to think about how an understanding of emotional states can contribute to our understanding of culture and society.

You will also benefit from being taught by senior clinicians as well as academics who have developed particular interest in the applications of psychoanalysis to culture and society over a minimum of three seminars a week during term time (six seminars a week for full-time students). You will have the use of an extensive library which is used by all students and staff, and you can also join clinical seminars or workshops in a programme called ‘Psychoanalysis in practice’.

The emphasis of this creative course is on learning from experience, and you will be encouraged to use your own emotional responses, as well as theory, to help you make sense of the ideas that you will be studying. You will have a generous amount of time with your tutors, many of whom are practicing clinicians.


“This course has been the most intellectually nourishing course I’ve attended since I sat my finals.”
M16 student
“I have not felt so mentally alive for years.”
M16 student
“This course was a real journey. I think it changed all of our lives, not just mine.”
M16 student

Course facilitators


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This course is validated by the University of Essex.

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