Refugee care (M35)

A unique course that brings together people from diverse walks of life to explore how we can care for refugee people more effectively

This is the only course of its kind that includes a placement within an organisation related to working with refugee people. It is the longest running course in its field in the UK and delivered with the University of Essex.

The central focus of this course is to introduce a therapeutic dimension and a psychosocial perspective to working with refugees and asylum seekers. It is the only postgraduate course to offer a combination of modules with this emphasis, making a clear distinction between being therapeutic in working with refugees and offering psychotherapy to them.

Please note that teaching will take place at both the University of Essex in Colchester and the Tavistock Centre in London.

Please note: you may see the M35 course also referred to as SYMATP001 in communications from our application system.

About this course

This course will help enhance your understanding and skills in working with refugee people using your own experience as context. You will examine the complexities of the refugee experience from a holistic perspective and using systemic, narrative, psychodynamic and liberation psychology approaches. You will consider therapeutic, clinical, theoretical, organisational, social and political viewpoints among others.

You will have the opportunity to explore the social, cultural and political contexts relevant to asylum seeking/refugee people and families using frameworks that are therapeutic and empowering and that will assist you in working directly with these groups.

You will learn through seminars and lectures, work in a placement in a relevant refugee institution/service and participate in a placement group which combines theory and practice.

Supervision will provide you with an important forum to help you integrate different areas of work and develop a conceptual framework that will facilitate your direct work with asylum seeking/refugee people.

You will also be expected to undertake a systematic observation of an organisation and complete a research dissertation. Research in this field is woven into the fabric of the curriculum on this course.

The written assignments are designed to deepen your knowledge of the complex issues discussed in the academic community, the work observed and your placement experiences. Emphasis is placed on interactive, reflective and co-operative learning styles.

Who is this course for?

This course is for you if you work with or want to work with asylum seeking/refugee people in a different capacity. You may be a:

  • voluntary worker
  • social worker
  • manager
  • mental health worker
  • teacher
  • psychologist
  • community worker
  • GP
  • public sector worker
  • psychotherapist

Course details

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you have:

  • a university degree (or equivalent) in any subject, 2:2 or above
  • a record of relevant work/experience or serious intent to work in relevant settings with refugees/asylum seekers

Applications to this course are made via the University of Essex application portal.


£10,000 per year (2024/25)


£21,700 per year (2024/25)

For more information about the fees and funding for this course, please visit the University of Essex website.

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.


Full time students will attend weekly refugee care seminars on Mondays at the Tavistock and Portman in terms one and two, and part of term three.

They will also attend Tuesday seminars at the University of Essex Colchester campus in terms one and two.

Dates and times for Tavistock and Portman modules:

  • Mondays, 4:30pm to 6:30pm during the autumn term
  • Mondays, 1:15pm to 5:00pm during the spring term
  • Mondays 3:30pm to 5:00pm during the summer term

Dates and times for Essex modules:

  • Tuesdays (exact time to be confirmed by University of Essex)

Graduates of this course have gone on to work with UK-based and international aid and refugee care organisations.

Why study with us?

You will develop a systematic understanding of the complexities of the various interconnecting contexts involved in the refugee situation. Contexts range from societal parameters to individual and family dynamics, the institutional dynamics of refugee services, aid organisations and, importantly, the personal dynamics of refugee workers themselves.

The course includes a thoughtful combination of practical and experiential elements, such as placements and institutional observations, to support a sound theoretical framework of the complexities of the refugee experience, such as family and societal factors, interactions with various services, institutions and organisations, and the inter-personal dynamics involved between refugees and their workers.


“I was curious to understand my own refugee experience and work with others going through the asylum process. I was lucky to learn from the foremost authorities in systemic psychotherapy, psychoanalytical studies, law, and other subjects who had multidisciplinary expertise. It was a genuine international knowledge hub in and of itself. I learned a lot from them throughout our conversations, and I am eternally grateful to them. I had a fantastic time learning at the Trust.”

Course facilitators

Validations and accreditations

University of Essex logo

This course is validated by the University of Essex.

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