UCL Graduate degrees


Early Child Development and Clinical Applications MSc

This programme, based at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, provides a unique foundation for individuals interested in a clinical/psychotherapy training or a research/academic career in child development. The MSc combines a comprehensive multi-perspective understanding of development and clinical practice in the early years with a supervised clinical placement, a two-year observation of infants in a family setting, and a research project.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 2 years

Please note this programme is now only offered on a full time basis and no longer has a part time option.

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£12,500 (FT)
£28,500 (FT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Location: London, King's Cross (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families)

Entry requirements

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

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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:

About this degree

The programme provides a multi-perspective theoretical grounding in early child development, allowing students to:

- Develop practical observational and clinical skills for work with children and parents in the early years;

- Engage deeply with an area of knowledge and develop the skills required for conducting reliable and valid research;

- Develop skills in integration across theory, clinical practice and research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 270 credits.

Year 1: Eleven compulsory modules (165 credits).

Year 2: Three compulsory modules (45 credits) and a research paper (60 credits).

The programme also consists of formative modules and workshops (non-assessed) across the two years.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Year one compulsory modules

  • Early Child Development I
  • Psychoanalytic Theories of Infancy and the Caregiver-Child Relationship
  • Multiple Perspectives on Development and Psychopathology I
  • Early Child Development II
  • Applied Psychoanalytic Concepts
  • Research Methods II: Introduction to Statistical Analysis
  • Parent-Infant Observation I
  • Early Child Development III
  • Prevention in Mental Health
  • Multi-disciplinarity and Multiple Perspectives in Early Years
  • Research Project I

Year two compulsory modules

  • Clinical Competencies: Masterclass I
  • Clinical Competencies Masterclass II
  • Parent-Infant Observation II
  • Research Project II

During year two, all students undertake supervised clinical placement in an early years setting (normally in the Early Years Service of the AFNCCF) and attend a (non-assessed) work discussion group.


All students undertake an independent research project, which culminates in a journal-type research paper of 8,000 words (60 credits).


During year two, all students undertake a supervised clinical placement in an early years setting (normally in the Early Years Service of the AFNCCF) and attend a work discussion group.

Teaching and learning

The programme’s theoretical modules are taught through a combination of weekly lectures, followed by workshops where students will be able to discuss lecture material and readings. Observations are discussed in small groups with an experienced psychoanalytic clinician. Clinical placements are supervised normally by clinicians from the Early Years Service at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Clinical competencies masterclasses are taught by experienced clinicians with various approaches. Research projects are carried out under the guidance of an individual research supervisor. Assessment types include but are not limited to: essay, exam, science communication article, care report, oral presentation, observation paper and a research paper. Assessment occurs throughout the programme (usually at the end of the relevant module).

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families offers two bursaries of £3,000 for this MSc programme (one bursary is for mature students only) which are open to UK and EU students. They are 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 programme. The bursary is administered by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and not by UCL.

Funding available to improve equity of access and inclusion for Black, Asian and minority ethnic entrants and financially disadvantaged candidates. For more information contact: ecdca@annafreud.org. Funding application deadline: 15th March 2021.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Students who successfully complete the MSc can apply their degree in a variety of settings and find work as child mental health workers or psychology assistants, or take up posts as research assistants. They may also be admitted onto professional doctorates or PhD programmes. The programme has strong links with IPCAPA at the British Psychotherapy Foundation (bpf) and with the UCL Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, accredited Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy training schools in London.


- Multi-perspective thinking about early child development and clinical practice;

- Practical observational and clinical skills for work with children and parents in the early years;

- Research skills required for conducting reliable and valid mixed-methods research;

- Science communication skills; translating science into accessible language

Why study this degree at UCL?

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

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

This MSc integrates different theoretical and clinical perspectives and gives students the opportunity to develop skills necessary to work with babies, children under the age of five and families. While the MSc has a predominantly psychoanalytic approach, it integrates current research from developmental psychology and neuroscience. The programme 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.

Department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

Application and next steps


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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

Who can apply?

Usually, prospective students have an undergraduate degree in psychology or another relevant social, clinical or life science discipline and have obtained some prior experience of related research. However, we also welcome applicants from other academic backgrounds and mature students already working with children or families. Some experience of working with children is also desirable if possible.

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 May 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Early Child Development and Clinical Applications at graduate level
  • why you want to study Early Child Development and Clinical Applications 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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021