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 (2022/23)
Programme fees on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
Programme fees on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 30 Jun 2022

Applications open


Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

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.

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

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

Students learn about the medical and cultural context in which psychoanalysis began, through to contemporary clinical and theoretical perspectives. The teaching programme 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 the arts, 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

The Psychoanalysis Unit is a thriving academic centre for psychoanalytic research, with its own MPhil/PhD programme alongside the MSc. It has affiliations with the International Psychoanalytic Association, the Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Anna Freud Centre. The unit is based within UCL's Division of Psychology & Language Sciences  which undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour and language.

The foundation of your career

This programme acts as a springboard especially for further clinical or theoretical training in the field, although it is not itself a clinical qualification. The teaching is organised and provided by eminent academics and psychoanalysts with international reputations. The option to take the Institute of Psychoanalysis Foundation Course, part of which counts towards the degree, helps with that career path. Many other students go on to research posts in the unit or with our large network of clinical research collaborators in London and around the world.


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. Student performance is assessed through examinations, coursework in the form of essays, and a dissertation.

As a full-time student, you will typically attend six to nine hours of taught seminars per week, as well as termly tutorials and weekly reading groups. Essential readings will be set for each seminar, and you will also be writing essays and working on your dissertation, so we strongly advise that you allow ample time for reading and independent research. If you attend the programme part-time or on a modular/flexible basis, workload will be proportional to the module(s) you take each year.



The programme is organized into modules, all compulsory and each 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.

Your year will begin with a short series of seminars introducing the nature of the discipline, and offering an overview of the history and development of psychoanalytic ideas to be covered throughout the year. In the first term, you will focus in great part on the works of Sigmund Freud, with the first months offering a thorough and careful reading of the key founding texts of the discipline. Other topics, such as empirical research in psychoanalysis, links between philosophy and psychoanalysis, and issues of diversity and difference within the discipline will also begin to be considered. You will also begin to be introduced to the major schools of psychoanalysis, starting with classical and contemporary adaptations of the Freudian tradition.

As the year progresses, you will continue with a close reading of foundational Freudian texts, but you will shift the focus somewhat to the way in which psychoanalytic theory has been taken up by different schools, with particular attention to those in the British Psychoanalytic Society. The work of Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion and D.W. Winnicott is covered extensively, as are the Lacanian and modern French traditions. You will also begin to address topics central to psychoanalysis, such as how sexuality or trauma figure within and have shaped psychoanalytic theory. Finally, you will start working on your dissertation project, and will be assigned a supervisor, typically by the middle of the term.

You will also cover other areas of study, including how psychoanalysis has engaged other disciplines and how psychoanalytic theory is taken up in contemporary clinical practice. Revision seminars for a number of series are also offered towards the end of the taught portion of the course to help you prepare for exams.

Throughout the year, you will be attending lectures on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, when the vast majority of teaching is scheduled. You will also participate in small reading groups in which you will have the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the material you have been covering in lectures. You will be expected to prepare for each seminar by reading papers on the topic, so it is essential that you plan ample time for independent study and revision. You will also be expected to hand in coursework at various points in the year, revise for exams, which you will sit in the summer, and work on your dissertation, typically due at the end of the summer.

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 programme structure outlined above, 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 is subject to change.

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.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Funding your studies

The Funding your studies session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Funding and Student Recruitment teams, provides information and guidance about the various scholarships and funding opportunities for graduate study at UCL.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £12,900 £6,450
Tuition fees (2022/23) £29,400 £14,700

Programme fees 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

None None

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 in any application cycle.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.