Early Child Development and Clinical Applications MSc

London, King's Cross (Anna Freud Centre)

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.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 06 Feb 2023

Applications open

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.

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: Level 2

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.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

This programme has a predominant psychoanalytic approach but provides a comprehensive understanding of early child development through a range of theoretical and clinical perspectives.

Students are able to apply this understanding in a supervised clinical placement normally in the Early Years Service at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, as well as conducting a centre-led research project or alternatively in collaboration with external partners.

This two-year full-time MSc programme (formerly known as MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology) has undergone changes to bring it up to date with current research and clinical practice.

Who this course is for

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.

What this course will give you

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 the UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, one of the world's leading integrated departments of research and teaching in mind, behaviour and language. UCL is ranked first for research power in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience by the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), with more than two thirds of our research in these areas rated as world-leading (4*).

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.

The foundation of your career

- 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


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.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, small group observation seminars, a clinical placement and supervision, and research supervision. The clinical placement is supervised by an experienced clinician in early years. Observation seminar groups are small, led by psychoanalytic clinicians and allow plenty of opportunity for discussion and reflection. Research work is supported by an individual supervisor and by workshops throughout the year. There are various assessments, such as essay, exam, case report, oral presentation, science communication article and leaflet, observation paper and a journal-type research paper. Assessment occurs throughout the programme (usually at the end of the relevant module).


This programme has a predominant psychoanalytic approach but focuses on giving a comprehensive multi-perspective understanding of development and clinical practice in the early years (i.e. prenatal to 5 years), considering biological and environmental influences. This is provided through teaching of psychoanalytic theories, developmental and neuroscience research, and current clinical practice, as well as a naturalistic observation of an infant in their family home.

The course also provides an opportunity to begin to develop clinical skills for work with parents and children under the age of 5 through a placement in the second year of the programme. Supervision of clinical placements is provided, as well as clinical competencies masterclasses, taught by clinicians with various approaches.

There is also a strong focus on developing research skills, with teaching covering quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Students undertake a research project, supported by individual supervision and workshops on a topic related to development, mental health and/or clinical work. Research projects are conducted either within the services at the Centre or with external collaborators. The project leads to a research paper written in a journal-style format.

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. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 270 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.


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.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: MSc Language Sciences Virtual Q&A Session

Please join us for our virtual MSc Language Sciences Q&A session. Hear more about the programme and tailored routes on offer, meet with the programme directors and ask any questions you may have about your application, the programme and life as a UCL postgraduate student.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

This programme requires a completed DBS check for some compulsory modules. You will receive more information from UCL on how to complete the check once you have firmly accepted an unconditional offer for the programme. The DBS application cost will be covered by UCL, but offer holders will also need to have their ID checked and verified at a Post Office, for which they will incur a charge of £12.75. The offer holder is also required to arrange and pay for any overseas police check that may be necessary; costs vary by country. For more information about the DBS application process, please contact the UCL Graduate Admissions team.

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

Funding your studies

The Anna Freud Centre offers a number of bursaries which 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 Centre and not by UCL. You can find more information about this funding here.

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

Next steps

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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.