Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology MSc

Open Evening

We will be holding an open evening for this programme at the Anna Freud Centre.

Wednesday 20th January 2016, 6.00pm

Book a place

This programme, run in conjunction with the Anna Freud Centre, provides a unique foundation for individuals interested in pursuing a psychotherapy training or an academic career in childhood development. The programme combines psychoanalytic theory of development and inter-family relationships with year-long observations of infants, children and, in some cases, psychotherapists at work with families. Students undertake a research project within the various Anna Freud Centre clinical services or partner organisations. 

Application deadline: 24th June 2016
Start date: September 2016

Key Information

Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£9,020 (FT)
£23,020 (FT)
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.
Fees note: Part-time fees are available on request from the department.

Apply Here


The course has three central components:

1. Theoretical Modules in Child Development and Psychoanalytic Concepts comprising lectures and smaller seminar discussions.

2. Observation Modules based on an observation of an infant and his/her family within the home, and a second observation of young children, their parents and clinician within a toddler group or children in a nursery school setting. These observations are discussed confidentially in small seminar groups with psychoanalysts/psychotherapists.

  • Listen to our Toddler Group psychotherapist and MSc Seminar Leader, Inge Pretorius, on BBC World Service talk about the experience students have by observing the therapeutic toddler groups at The Anna Freud Centre, a unique component of our course not offered by any other graduate programme.

3. Research Modules on qualitative and quantitative research methodology developing students' ability to critically evaluate claims, theories and evidence in the human sciences, culminating in empirical research work and the completion of a dissertation.

What will I learn?

Students develop a theoretical grounding in psychoanalytic theories of child development and of developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology. They gain practical observational skills essential in clinical work, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and the tools necessary for conducting reliable, valid and ethical research.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Teaching on the programme is mostly based at the Anna Freud Centre in London, a world-renowned centre for research, training and clinical practice in the field of child mental health.

The MSc is based within UCL's Division of Psychology & Language Sciences. This is one of the world’s leading integrated departments of research and teaching in mind, behaviour, and language.

Opportunities for graduate students to work with world-renowned researchers exist in all areas of investigation, from basic processes to applied research. The division offers a supportive environment including numerous specialist seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.

Student / staff ratios › 304 staff › 741 taught students › 439 research students


This programme is modular, allowing students maximum flexibilty. Students may undertake an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in one year of full-time study, or part-time flexible study, up to a maximum of five years.

Degree Structure

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of seven core modules (105 credits), one optional module (15 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) is offered.

Core Modules
  • Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Child Development I: Infancy
  • Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Child Development II: Toddlerhood and Early Childhood
  • Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Child Development III: Latency and Adolescence
  • Research Methods II: Introduction to Statistical Analysis
  • An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Theory
  • The Clinical Theory of Psychoanalysis
  • Observation I: Parent Infant
  • Observation II: Toddler Observation
  • Observation III: Observation of a Nursery-school aged Child

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 12,500 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, observation exercises, and tutorials. Students are assessed throughout the programme. Assessments include a variety of essays, examinations, observation papers and a research dissertation.

Further information about the programme is available on the department website.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology MSc




Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

It is desirable for prospective students to have an undergraduate degree in psychology or another relevant social, clinical or life science discipline and to have obtained some prior experience of related research. Some experience of working with children is also desirable.

Application deadlines
All applicants
24 June 2016
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • why you want to study Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this rigorous programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note: this course is not eligible for US Federal Loan Authority funding.

The Anna Freud Centre offers one bursary for this MSc course (£3000 per year) which is open only to Home and EU Students. It is awarded based on academic ability and potential as well as on financial need. Please note, students are only eligible to apply once they have been issued with a firm offer from UCL for this course. The bursary is administered by the Anna Freud Centre and is not part of UCL.

For information on general scholarship opportunities, please select the link below:


“I chose to study Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology at the Anna Freud Centre because of its high academic standing and historical tradition. In addition, the centre offers intimate class sizes and a combination of hands on experience, through observations and research, which provides a solid educational environment with an excellent reputation.”

Emily, USA 

''My studies helped me obtain a post working with children, and to work there with a high degree of efficacy, thanks to the comprehensive knowledge of developmental issues gained from the MSc. I feel indebted to the Anna Freud Centre’'.

Brian, Assistant Child Psychotherapist.



Some graduates of this programme have been admitted on to psychoanalytic/psychotherapy, doctoral-level trainings and PhD programmes at internationally recognised universities, whilst others have gone into work as child mental health workers, psychology or teaching assistants.

Top career destinations for this programme
  • Assistant Psychotherapist, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (2011)
  • Psychologist, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd (2013)
  • Research Assistant, Laboratory of Neuroimaging, UCLA (2012)
  • Mental Health Therapist, International Consulting Centre (2011)
  • Clinical Psychologist, CORA (2013)

Students who successfully complete the MSc can apply their degree in a variety of settings. Our graduates have found work as psychology assistants or child mental health workers, taken up posts as senior research fellows and have been admitted to psychotherapy trainings in both adult and child programmes.


Ms Claire Prescott


T: +44 (0)20 7443 2266


Q. What do people do with an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology

A. Students who successfully complete the MSc can apply their degree in a variety of settings. Our graduates have found work as child mental health workers or psychology assistants, taken up posts as senior research fellows and have been admitted to psychoanalytic/psychotherapy and doctoral level trainings in both adult and child programmes.

Several students have been admitted onto PhD programmes at internationally recognised universities, whilst other have gone into areas such as teacher training, speech science and related child development fields.

Q. What kind of background do you look for in successful candidates?

A. Whilst a background in Psychology or a social science is useful, it is not essential and applications from all background disciplines are considered.

Q. Would I need to have lots of research experience to secure an offer?

A. The course assumes no previous research experiences although many students already have some basic experience and knowledge of some areas of research. The course considers it more important that students develop the emotional ability and intellectual capacity to understand concepts central to research and how these translate to both theoretical and observational contexts. 

Q. I’m an overseas student where can I convert my grades to find out if I am eligible for the course?

A. You can find information on converting grades on the graduate admissions website under country information.

Q. How does this MSc differ from the other psychoanalytic MScs offered by your department? 

A. Central to the concept and identity of this MSc lies the concept of the integration between theory, observational skills and research. The course envisages its graduates as being able to translate concepts across these domains and therefore develop an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of each domain itself and areas of overlap between domains. As such, it forms an excellent basis for careers in academia, clinical work and research.

Q. How much experience of working with children do I need to apply for this course? 

A. Some experience of working with children is expected although the nature of this experience can vary greatly. Importance is given to the meaning derived from and the capacity to think about the experience rather than the sheer volume of experience itself. An applicant with limited experience who has been thorough about this experience is favoured over an applicant who has amassed hours of contact with children but done so with little self reflection. 

Q. How long is the course? 

A. The programme is modular, allowing students maximum flexibility. Students may undertake and MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in one year of full-time study, two years of part-time study, or by flexible study where modules can be taken over up to a maximum of five years. Each module has a credit rating. To be awarded a PG Diploma students must successfully amass 120 credits. For the MSc need to gain a total of 180 credits.

Q. Is it possible to do the MSc as a part time student?

A. Yes. Given the modular structure, the course can be completed part-time on a basis to suit the student, this time period ranging from two to a maximum of five years. Overseas students are warned that applications to study part-time may not meet the requirements for obtaining a visa and therefore oversea students tend to complete this course in on year.

Q. What are the course commitments?

A. This is a demanding course that is also very rewarding to its students. There is a great deal of reading to be completed and observations and research are time consuming. Full time students should expect to have to devote at least four days per week to the course which has implications for those students seeking to hold part-time jobs whilst studying. 


Dr Alejandra Perez is the Programme Director for this course, and is available via email: Alejandra Perez is a Psychoanalyst working in private practice and a consultant at the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis

Mrs Kay Asquith is the Course Tutor, and is available via email:

Alex Volovisky, PDP Alumni

Rachel Acheson, PDP Alumni

Download our course brochure