Psychoanalysis Unit




5th & 19th
2nd, 16th & 30th 


1st, 15th,& 29th


9th & 23rd

June 6th & 20th

PhD courses take place fortnightly on Thursdays in Room 544 of the Psychoanalysis Unit.

Research students are required to be in continuous attendance, apart from periods of leave to be taken in line with UCL staff holiday entitlements. UCL wide term-dates and college closure days

The Core Course

Discussion Group (16 seminars - 20 credits)
Thursdays 1.30-2.30pm (follows timetable above)
Led by Dr Lionel Bailly

This first year course aims to ensure a grounding in the major concepts of psychoanalysis. MPhil students should feel confident when they are upgrading to PhD that they have a grasp of "what is psychoanalysis?" When students write and are finally examined in their PhD a basic knowledge will be expected.

Because students will need to concentrate their reading on their PhD proposal, on the whole, only short classical texts will be selected for the fortnightly discussions. However, basic texts (such as e.g. the Interpretation of Dreams, Three Essays on Sexuality, On Narcissism, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, An Outline of Psychoanalysis) will need to be part of every student's intellectual arsenal.

In the third term students will gain an insight into the complex process involved in developing an initial idea or interest into an original body of work. Questions such as how to build a theoretical hypothesis, research, and deliver it will be examined using the practical experience of the lecturers. Students will have an opportunity to consider and reflect on the theoretical development of their own work.

This course is open to all students throughout their period of study.

Work-in-Progress Workshop (16 seminars - 20 credits)
Thursdays 2.45-3.45pm (follows timetable above)
Professor Patrick Luyten

First year students are expected to attend this course. The Work-in-Progress workshop is an essential component of the PhD programme. It entails a mixture of student-led sessions with Professor Luyten in attendance and seminars by visiting scholars. Other members of the academic staff will attend whenever a topic falls within their particular expertise.

The aim of the workshop is for first year MPhil students to present their proposed theses. This way, students not only become familiar with each other's research projects, but this is also likely to foster the exchange of ideas and further collaboration between students with shared interests and/or similar research methodologies. Furthermore, students learn how to present their research and discuss their ideas with other researchers. Finally, the work-in-progress workshop also aims to encourage students to share difficulties and questions that arise, rather than to present completed work.

To facilitate these aims, when giving a workshop, students should send their Powerpoint presentation and/or paper to the student group at least three days before, together with at least one key paper or chapter relevant to their research. If texts are recommended they will be stored on the programme's Moodle site.

This course is open to all students throughout their period of study.

Transferable Skills Training - 20 Robert's Points
Times and dates throughout the academic year.

Sponsors and employers now expect research students to be able to demonstrate that they have developed generic and transferable skills to a high level. To this end, students are required to acquire a minimum of 20 Robert's points before upgrading by engaging with skills training courses and activities. Gaining the relevant transferable skills can come from multiple sources. In addition to taking Doctoral School courses, students should engage in activities such as writing and submitting papers, giving poster presentations and presenting at conferences, giving oral presentations the PhD programme seminars and workshops, etc. Points are recorded on the Research Student Log which is reviewed by supervisors before the upgrade interview and upon submission of the thesis.

All first year students must attend a Research Integrity Training session before upgrading. This will be in the from of a Dilemma Game Research Seminar. Details will be circulated by the Programme Administrator. Students should also consider attending the Doctoral School's Introduction to Research Support and Integrity.

Special Research Courses

In addition to the Core Courses, first year students are encouraged to attend a selection of Special Research Courses to gain course credits for upgrading. 


Neuropsychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Neuroscience (5 seminars - 20 credits)
Thursdays 19th October, 2nd, 16th and 30th November, 14th December 2023

Seminars 1-5: All at 11.30am-1.00pm
Dr Katerina Fotopoulou 

Psychoanalysis has always occupied a challenging space between the 'two cultures': humanities and science. Freud believed that a systematic study of subjective experience by the newly invented psychoanalytic method would reveal the functional and dynamic architecture of the mind, in ways that, at the time, were not possible to explore neurophysiologically. Nevertheless, he remained faithful to the idea that his models of the mind, based on independent psychoanalytic study, would one day be correlated with models of brain function. More than a century later, tremendous progress in psychoanalytic as well as neuroscientific theory and research has led an increasing number of scientists and psychoanalysts to ask whether that moment that Freud awaited has finally arrived. Is a dialogue between the two disciplines possible and fruitful? In this lecture series we will consider the historical and epistemological foundations of such a dialogue, organised around the foundation and progress of the interdisciplinary field Neuropsychoanalysis. We will also consider the psychoanalytic and neuroscientific response to neuropsychoanalytic endeavours and the challenges and tensions that lie in its path. Finally, we will consider recent examples of neuroscientific enquiry and methodology that are suitable for neuropsychoanalytic dialogue and form part of a new, relevant field within the neurosciences, namely psychodynamic neuroscience.


Relating Psychoanalysis to other Disciplines (5 seminars - 20 credits)
Thursdays 11.30-1.00pm - 18th January, 1st, 15th and 29th February and 14th March

Dr. Martin Debbané

Recent developments have made it reasonable to think that the main claims of psychoanalysis can be relatively directly integrated with the theoretical frameworks of contemporary computational and affective neuroscience. In this term's seminars we will survey this potential integration, beginning with the role of identification and projection in the Freudian psychology of individuals and groups.


Reading Lacan: The Virtuality Principle? The virtual world and psychic development (5 seminars - 20 credits)
Thursdays 11.30am-1.00pm - 25th April, 9th & 23th May, 6th & 20th June 2024
Dr Lionel Bailly 

Freud (1911) suggest that “the state of psychical rest was originally disturbed by the peremptory demands of internal needs. When this happened, whatever was thought of (wished for) was simply presented in a hallucinatory manner… It was only the non-occurrence of the expected satisfaction, the disappointment experienced, that led to the abandonment of this attempt at satisfaction by means of hallucination. Instead of it, the psychical apparatus had to decide to form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world and to endeavour to make a real alteration in them. A new principle of mental functioning was thus introduced; what was presented in the mind was no longer what was agreeable but what was real, even if it happened to be disagreeable. This setting-up of the reality principle proved to be a momentous step.” What if the baby is given a tool that limits disappointment by providing limitless hallucinatory experiences? How will this interfere with the setting up of the reality principle and its consequences on the development of the psyche? Does an active mirror perturbs the subject’s ability to assume an image and how does it changes the complex operation described in Lacan’s Optical Schema by which both the body and the ego are constructed?

Research Methodology Courses

Students engaged in empirical research may choose to take courses from within the wider Division of Psychology and Language Sciences which are modules on the MSc in Psychological Sciences and open to PhD students. The timetable for these courses will be circulated by the Programme Administrator and students will be asked to register their interest. Course materials are available online via Moodle. There are a limited number of places each year. Students taking the courses are encouraged to take the tests for practice but do not need to pass or gain a particular grade in the assessments.

Statistics PSYC0146 (20 credits)
Autumn, Term 1: Dates TBC

This course provides a thorough introduction to the General Linear Model, which incorporates analyses such as multiple regression, ANOVA, ANCOVA, repeated-measures ANOVA. We will also cover extensions to linear mixed-effects models and logistic regression. All techniques will be discussed within a general framework of building and comparing statistical models. Practical experience in applying the methods will be developed through exercises with the statistics package SPSS.

This module is intended to give a more advanced and flexible understanding of the statistical methods to analyse experimental data. The aim is to give students with the skills and confidence to analyse their data, even in complex and non-standard cases.

Through the course, students are expected to develop the ability to: - structure and summarise quantitative data - define and test hypotheses in terms of the General Linear Model and extensions into mixed-effects models and logistic regression - use and assess the value of computer-software for statistical analysis.

Key skills provided by module: - flexible statistical thinking - using and interpreting statistical hypothesis tests - use of statistical software (SPSS).

There are 3 unseen departmental tests (computerised exams) - PhD students do not need to pass these tests or achieve any particular grade, but may wish to take them for general practice.

Computer Programming PSYC0157 (20 credits)
Autumn, Term 1: Dates TBC

Computing for Psychologists is a course for students with little or no prior experience in computer programming. Apart from using a computer, no prior knowledge is assumed. The course consists of 10 three-hour lecture sessions in which programming concepts are introduced and hands-on experience is provided. Programming assignments are set on a weekly basis to solidify concepts and provide further familiarity.

This course provides an introduction to computer programming with a particular focus towards tasks that are essential for psychological research, such as developing computer-based experiments and parsing/formatting experimental data. The overall aim is to equip students with the fundamental knowledge and the confidence required to tackle a variety of programming tasks, as well as the ability to adapt to future needs and changes in technology. Topics covered include: Basic programming concepts, file handling, user interface development, organising code for readability and maintainability, advanced troubleshooting techniques.

Objectives: 1. To understand the principles of computer programming 2. To design and develop software for a variety of tasks related to experimental psychology. 3. To read, understand and adapt code produced by others.

Key skills provided by module: A solid basis for tackling a variety of programming tasks - The confidence and the ability to expand one's knowledge of programming languages, techniques and frameworks - Ability to adapt to future needs and changes in technology.

Assessment: 3 assessments - PhD students do not need to pass these tests or achieve any particular grade, but may wish to take them for general practice.

Qualitative Data Analysis PSYC0158 (20 credits) 
Spring, Term 2: Dates TBC

Please note - This module is part of the MSc in Psychological Sciences (Conversion) and as such will be taught at an introductory level.

This course introduces the main data-sources and analysis methods used in qualitative research. In addition to covering the key conceptual issues, a computer package for qualitative analysis is taught, as are further methods for data analysis. Students emerge with the skill of using a textual data analysis package. The strengths and limitations of various techniques are evaluated, with an eye to issues such as reliability and validity. The specific criteria used for evaluation of qualitative work are examined, as is its scientific status. The course combines lectures and practical work, and is assessed by a qualitative analysis.

Assessment: A short 1 page essay outlining how the course is relevant to you PhD, to be reviewed by your supervisor.

MSc Modules

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