Consulting and leading in organisations: psychodynamic and systemic approaches (D10)

Course overview

This course will develop you as a consultant, manager and leader so that you have a full understanding of the human dimensions of organisational systems. You will learn the skills to work more effectively and see the bigger picture.

The course consists of 11 Friday and Saturday blocks per year, plus the group relations conference.

There are four units of study:

  • Unit one: Theory
  • Unit two: Consulting and leading in practice
  • Unit three: Experiential learning and its applications
  • Unit four: Group relations conference

Year one


The theory seminars and webinars in year one will provide you with a cumulative introduction to the development of psychoanalytic and systemic perspectives on organisations. You will be introduced to the individual unconscious, the group unconscious and the institutional unconscious via seminal papers. These cover the historical evolution of a psychoanalytic understanding of group and institutional life and how this can be applied to effect change when working in organisations as a consultant, leader or manager.

Consulting and leading in practice

In the first year, your home organisation/work situation will be the focus of attention. A range of conceptual tools will be introduced to develop your capacity to think critically and systemically about your own and others' organisations. You will learn to map organisational systems and understand the effects of organisational structure on organisational dynamics and vice versa. You’ll also formulate and test hypotheses about what is going on and learn how to communicate these appropriately. You will be encouraged to think creatively 'across the boundary' between the conscious and unconscious aspects of organisational life, and you’ll also be encouraged to make appropriate use of your personal experiences and feelings.

Experiential learning and its applications

The aims of the experiential groups in each two-day block are to learn to observe the functioning of a group and attempt to understand the dynamics, both conscious and unconscious, which influence it, while remaining a participant. You will be invited to study and learn at first-hand about the processes that influence individuals and groups when they work together. Obviously, the exact nature of the learning cannot be known about in advance, but the experiential group allows for the study of issues including leadership, followership, competition, rivalry, boundaries, anti-task phenomena, group defences, inter- and intra-group behaviour, the effects of gender, and cultural and role differences. Through the year you’ll also be able to study what happens at the beginning of a group's life, how group processes develop, what happens between groups, the contribution and roles of each member, and how a group copes with breaks and with endings.

Observation in organisations

From block three to block nine (of the 11 blocks per annum) one of the experiential groups will be replaced by the observation seminars. The aim of observing in an organisation is to provide an opportunity to watch a group functioning when it is engaged in its usual task. Maintaining the role of observer, and studying the effect this has on you and on the group, will be an important part of the learning experience, as will observing how different organisations maintain their boundaries. This unit helps to develop skills essential for the consultant/manager/leader, including the capacity to allow a group to get on with its business without untimely interventions by an outsider.

Group relations conference

This unit provides an intensive and immersive experience of group and institutional processes, allowing you to develop further the learning opportunities provided in the monthly course. At a four day long conference, which will be held at the Tavistock Centre, there will be additional experiences, including inter-group, management and institutional events. This will enable you to study relatedness and relationships between groups, boundary dynamics, issues of delegated authority etc. in an institutional context.

Year two


Theory in the second year will introduce more contemporary papers.  Contemporary practitioners bring the theory alive through the presentation of case studies, exploring organisational issues such as authority and power, the processes of organisational change and the politics of difference. Much of the teaching will be discussion based, to help you develop critical skills and link the theory to your own experiences.

Consulting and leading in practice

In the second year, you will undertake a consultancy which will be supervised in small seminar groups.

Experiential learning and its applications

As in year one, students take part in experiential groups within each block. From block three to block nine one of the experiential groups is replaced by the organisation of an event. The whole year group takes part in planning an event for an external membership where you will be expected to plan and staff an event, of your own choice and design, for the year one students - usually on an issue to do with consultancy, leadership and/or organisations.

This unit provides particular opportunity to study issues such as authority, leadership, followership, management, delegation and competition. The focus is not only on the success or failure of the event (although this obviously will have its own impact and can be studied), but on the opportunity provided for learning about group processes that emerge when a task has to be undertaken that involves engaging with the world external to the group. 

This is a two year Masters level course.  Students may, although this is not encouraged, exit after one year with a Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) or after two years (without submitting a dissertation) with a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip).

Timetable of blocks

  • Block 1: 30th Sept and 1st October 2016 with evening webinars on 12th October 2016 - both years
  • Block 2: 21st – 22nd October 2016 with evening webinars on 2nd November 2016 - both years  
  • Block 3: 11th – 12th November 2016 with evening webinars on 30th November 2016 - both years
  • Block 4: 9th – 10th December 2016  
  • Block 5: 20th – 21st January 2017 with evening webinars on 1st February 2017 - both years  
  • Block 6: 24th – 25th February 2017 with an evening webinar on 8th March 2017 - year one only   
  • Block 7: 17th – 18th March 2017 
  • Block 8: 7th – 8th April 2017 with an evening webinar on 26th April 2017 - year one only
  • Block 9: 12th – 13th May 2017 
  • Block 10: 9th – 10th June 2017 
  • Block 11: 7th – 8th July 2017.

This course will help you gain a better understanding of yourself in a working context and also gain a greater capacity to understand the intra- and inter-group processes that lead to functioning or dysfunctional organisations and teams.  You will be able to enhance your authority within your role and the capacity for appropriate task related leadership as well as enhance your ability to act effectively as a consultant on organisational issues, whether from an internal or external position.

Due to the extremely varied background of the students on this course, you will gain a cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge from a wide variety of workplaces.

What our students say:

"This MA has enabled me to think about organisations in a completely different way. It has not only developed me as a consultant, but has changed me as a leader." 

"This programme taught me how to think in a crisis, and get my team to think too."

This course is for you if you are a manager, leader, consultant or coach who wants to develop insight into the unconscious processes that affect organisational systems and working life. You may be working in higher education, social services, the NHS, a FTSE 100 company, the not-for-profit sector or private practice.

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • have a minimum of three years’ experience in your chosen profession
  • have experience of direct involvement in the management, training or development of other professional workers, or engagement in consultative work for specific organisations
  • have a first degree or equivalent, and/or professional experience commensurate with that qualification.

The annual fee for this course is £5245 for Home/EU students and £10,490 for International students. 

We are happy offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses.  

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

Please note that course fees will increase by 2% each year.

MA / Masters
Course length:
2 years
Part-time - Friday and Saturday
Admission status:
Course lead:
Kay Trainor

Enquire about this course

Make an enquiry

Share this page

Next steps

Professional doctorate in advanced practice and research: consultation and the organisation (D10D)

This is a lively, collaborative and well-supported course that will offer you participation in a stimulating learning community with a successful...

Find out more