Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical) MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This MSc gives students a grounding in the nature, history, content and context of psychoanalytic theory, as used by practising psychoanalysts. It provides a comprehensive introduction to current psychoanalytic thinking, rooted in the history and development of ideas and with attention to the application of psychoanalytic ideas to other fields.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications closed

Entry requirements

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

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 provides you with a solid foundation of understanding of the medical and cultural context in which psychoanalysis began, through to contemporary clinical and theoretical perspectives. The teaching curriculum has a firm basis in the works of Sigmund Freud, but represents the breadth of the British psychoanalytic traditions, as well as major international contributions, the interface with other disciplines and with wider cultural issues, and how psychoanalysis fits in with modern science.

Who this course is for

This MSc welcomes students from very diverse backgrounds. We accept good degrees in any subject, and many students come from overseas. Some come after psychotherapy clinical training to deepen their psychoanalytic knowledge. Many have little background in psychoanalysis, but are perhaps considering clinical training in the future, or a related PhD.

What this course will give you

This MSc provides a comprehensive critical exploration of the development of current psychoanalytic thinking, beginning with the foundational works of Sigmund Freud and showing how different psychoanalytic traditions have developed in dialogue with both Freud and each other. The programme is academic in nature, concerned with the theoretical issues that emerge from the close reading of psychoanalytic texts, but these issues are always considered in relation to the clinical practice of psychoanalysis. The programme is taught by a wide range of visiting lecturers, expert in their field, who are for the most part also practicing clinicians, and this ensures that consideration of how psychoanalytic theory both informs and is informed by the clinical setting is central. In addition to providing a thorough and nuanced exploration of various psychoanalytic paradigms, the programme also uniquely aims to bridge the gap that often exists between psychoanalysis as conceived by professional psychoanalysts, and as presented in many psychoanalytic academic programmes.

The programme is located within the Psychoanalysis Unit, a research and teaching unit established by the late Professor Joseph Sandler and now part of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology. It has affiliations with the Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Anna Freud Centre. The unit is based within UCL's Division of Psychology and Language Sciences which undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour and language.

The foundation of your career

This programme will provide you with a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the development of psychoanalysis as a discipline and current psychoanalytic thinking. You will develop a detailed understanding of the major theoretical and clinical works of Sigmund Freud, and also of the central ideas characterising the three major British groups and the reasons for their differences. You will also become familiar with debates concerning psychoanalytic thinking in relation to child development, psychopathology, clinical technique and the applications of psychoanalytic ideas to understanding the wider culture.

Throughout the programme, you will develop extensive independent research skills but will also have the opportunity to become part of the vibrant academic community of the Psychoanalysis Unit and attend its events. Students undertaking the programme in its Foundation Course Pathway will attend weekly lectures at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Recent alumni career destinations for the Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical) MSc include: PhD in Psychoanalytic Studies, UCL; PhD in Philosophy, Kingston University; Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology; Lecturer, Kingston University; Interdisciplinary Training in Adult Psychotherapy, Tavistock and Portman; Systems Psychologist, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; Support Worker, Turning Point.


This MSc provides a very good background to formal clinical training in psychoanalysis, adult or child psychotherapy or counselling and nearly half of our graduates pursue these options. A similar number continue with their academic studies either at UCL or elsewhere, often registering for a PhD in either psychoanalytic theory or empirical research.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. The various seminar series are organised by experienced psychoanalysts or academics who are experts in the field concerned.

Each taught module is assessed by an essay and an exam, and the dissertation is an extensive independent research project. There are seminars and tutorials for essay preparation and seminars and supervision to support dissertation research.

Each 30 credit taught module includes c. 30 hours of contact time (with additional contact time available through the Programme Tutor and Programme Director office hours) and 300 hours of personal study time, which includes extensive weekly reading in preparation for each seminar, writing your assignments and, as the summer term approaches, revising for exams.

The Dissertation module is 60 credits and includes 600 hours of personal study time alongside approximately 15 hours of a combination of taught seminars and dissertation supervision.


The programme is organised into four taught modules and the Dissertation module. All taught modules are compulsory and each is divided thematically into series covering particular psychoanalytic schools or topics. Modules run concurrently throughout the year, but the focus of the curriculum varies slightly as the terms progress. The vast majority of teaching takes place on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, but extensive reading for each seminar is expected so you are advised to plan for ample preparation and reading time during the week.

Foundation Course Pathway

The Foundation Course Pathway is an option sometimes available to students who have been accepted into the Foundation Course at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, who plan to do the Foundation Course concurrently with the programme at UCL and who wish the Foundation Course to count towards their degree. Students in the Foundation Course pathway follow the same programme structure, but take the Foundation Course instead of one of the four programme modules and are then assessed by UCL on the curriculum covered in the Foundation Course.

If you undertake the programme in its Foundation Course pathway, you should be mindful that, in addition to following the UCL schedule and assessment patters, you will also be attending evening lectures and clinical seminars off-site at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, and that teaching at the Institute of Psychoanalysis may not entirely overlap with UCL term dates and deadlines.

Please note that there is an additional cost to the Foundation Course Pathway. Students in this pathway pay full tuition fees at UCL, and also pay a discounted fee at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

As a part-time student, you will follow the same curriculum and schedule as a full-time student, but attend only seminars for the modules that you are registered on each year. You will complete three taught modules in your first year, and one taught module plus the dissertation in your second year. If you take the course in its Foundation Course Pathway, you will be attending the Foundation Course in your second year.

As a modular/flexible student, you will follow the same curriculum and schedule as a full-time student, but attend only seminars for the module(s) that you are registered on each year. You will have up to five years to complete all four taught modules and dissertation. You will be able to choose, year on year, how many module(s) you register for, but will usually be required to complete taught modules in the recommended order. Additionally, if you take the course in its Foundation Course Pathway, you will be expected to attend the Foundation Course once you have completed the remaining three modules, or concurrently with them. You will be completing your dissertation in your final year.

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 are 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 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies (Non-Clinical).


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

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

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:

Additional costs

There is an additional cost to students in the Foundation Course Pathway. Students in this pathway pay full tuition fees at UCL, and also pay a discounted fee at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

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

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

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies at graduate level
  • why you want to study Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies at UCL
  • 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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.