Psychoanalysis Unit


The PhD Programme

The requirement for the award of a PhD is the submission of a thesis of no more than 100,000 words (including footnotes, tables and figures but excluding bibliography, appendices and supporting data) at the end of the degree programme. For full-time students, this is after three years, while for part-time students, five years. If extra time is needed to write-up, students can trasnfer to Completing Research Status (CRS) which extends the period of study for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

Normally the thesis reports an in-depth, original programme of work which makes a significant contribution to knowledge through the exercise of critical powers, and/or through the acquisition and interpretation of fresh data. Although publication is not a necessary criterion, it is expected that this work will be of sufficiently high quality to merit publication. The key requirement is the achievement of a significant contribution to knowledge. The research work required for the thesis is generally carried out individually, but it can be a distinct part of work within a research group. In the latter cases, the candidate is expected to indicate and demonstrate that a substantial aspect of the work has been his or her own contribution.


All MPhil/PhD students have both a Principal and Subsidiary Supervisor. The two supervisors constitute the student's supervisory panel.

Principal Supervisor

It is expected that students will meet with their principal supervisor on a regular basis - at least once per month to include 10 meetings per academic year of approximately 1 hour duration. They will give specialist research guidance through general discussion, suggestions for reading, and comments on drafts of relevant chapters.

Subsidiary Supervisor

Every student should have a subsidiary supervisor whose responsibility it is to overview the student's work and to chair the student's upgrade interview. Students should meet with them at least once per term to include 3 meetings per academic year, of approximately 2 hours duration (the 6 hours can be broken down into more frequent and shorter meetings as required).

PhD Courses and Transferable Skills Training

Both full and part-time students are initially registered as MPhil students and are required to attain 80 credits from course attendance in their first year to enable them to upgrade to PhD status. The upgrade takes place in the second year for full-time students and second/third year for part-time students.

The Core Course / Psychoanalysis Unit

The Discussion Group (20 credits)
Work-in-Progress Workshop (20 credits)
Transferable Skills Training - Courses and Related Activities (20 'Robert's' points)

The Discussion Group and Work-in-Progress Workshop are held in the Unit fortnightly and provide a collective experience in which active student participation is all important. The Core Course is compulsory for all MPhil students in order to meet the requirements for upgrading.

Students are required to attend transferable skills training courses and engage in relevant skills-based activities in order to gain 20 'Robert's' points. These are recorded on the students' online Research Log. The Organisational Development team offer a wide range of skills development courses. Students can also collect 'Robert's' points from engaging in activities such as writing and submitting papers, giving poster and paper presentations at conferences, oral presentations in PhD courses, teaching undergraduate/postgraduate students, etc. All MPhil students must attend Research Integrity Training before upgrading.

Special Research Courses / Psychoanalysis Unit

Further credits can be gained by attending a selection of optional courses within the Unit:

Neuropsychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Neuroscience (20 credits)
Relating Psychoanalysis to other Disciplines (20 credits)
Reading Lacan (20 credits)

Research Methodology Courses / Division of Psychology

Students engaged in empirical work may wish to attend courses offered within the wider Division including:

Statistics (20 credits)
Qualitative Data Analysis (20 credits)
Computer Programming (20 credits)

MSc Modules / UCL

Students have the option to audit an MSc module in a relevant department within UCL if it is helpful to their research (particularly for interdisciplinary topics). Students are advised to research courses across the wider University, discuss potential modules with their supervisor before making contact with the relevant Programme Administrator.

Explore the current timetable for further details about courses and skills-based training.


There are two formal assessments during the PhD - these are the upgrade interview and viva.


Students are expected to attend an upgrade interview in their second year (full-time) and second/third year (part-time) before transferring to full PhD status. The upgrade is an opportunity for students to show their commitment to pursuing research at UCL to a PhD level, that they are fully engaged with their studies and have made satisfactory progress since the start of the programme.

Viva Examination

The viva is an academic interview at which your examiners (one interanal to UCL, one external) will be looking for an understanding of the subject matter of your thesis, an appreciation of its significance to established knowledge in the field, and an awareness of the breadth of the subject area.

The examiners will expect you to:

Show a critical analysis of your own work and of that of others
Appreciate the limitations of the methods employed and the results obtained by yourself and others
Understand how the broad conclusions of your thesis support, add to or conflict with previous work
Know the major concepts and recent developments in your subject.