Psychoanalytic studies (M16) full-time

Course overview

This is the UK’s first Psychoanalytic Studies course with roots in the British School of Psychoanalysis and the Tavistock model of infant and young child observation. The emphasis of this creative course is on learning from experience and you will be encouraged to use your own emotional responses and cultural knowledge, as well as the learnt theory, to help make sense of the ideas that you will be studying. The course has a history of welcoming overseas students from a range of professional backgrounds, and re-extends its welcome to BAME, LGBTQI+ and other minority members whose lived experiences enrich the use of psychoanalysis as a tool to understand any object of study. 

Want to hear more? Join this course information session at our virtual open day on Saturday 25 June. Book your place using our booking form here.

Alongside the in-depth study of the origin and development of psychoanalytic concepts you will learn through observation and explore the application of psychoanalysis to aspects of contemporary culture and society, including to the culture of psychoanalysis itself.

The course consists of three strands:

  • observation
  • psychoanalytic theory
  • psychoanalytic theory as a mode of enquiry into culture and society. 

Observation: you will observe an infant or a young child at home or in a nursery setting and attend a small weekly seminar led by an experienced child psychotherapist. Infant observation allows for the detailed study of the unconscious processes that shape a baby or young child’s personality as they develop within the varied context of family or nursery relationships, and in the context of the different communities around each family. It is an important aspect of an initial psychoanalytic education and provides a context in which psychoanalytic ideas become connected to human experience, engaging students’ emotions as well as minds. The Tavistock is a pioneer in infant observation. During COVID-19, and periods of social restriction, it has and will be possible to continue observations remotely, via an online platform.

Psychoanalytic theory: you will study the origin and development of fundamental concepts in psychoanalysis through Freud and Klein, as well as Bion, Winnicott, theoretical papers about sexuality and the post-Kleinians. Senior psychotherapists and analysts will use their clinical experience to bring psychoanalytic ideas and methods to life.  The approach to learning is through the close study of the primary psychoanalytic texts and this will provide you with a substantial first-hand foundation for further psychoanalytic study and its broader applications.  

Psychoanalytic theory as a mode of enquiry into culture and society: you will explore the application of psychoanalytic ideas to art, film, narratives of self, music and the social and political applications of psychoanalysis, as well as to your specific interests in these fields. Alongside examination of how a psychoanalytic perspective can enrich our understanding of the cultural wealth in diversity and difference, the module will also encourage the application of contemporary and historical psychoanalytic concepts to better understand and engage with the challenges to inclusive, anti-discriminatory learning about human development, including those associated with the culture of psychoanalysis itself.

Young child observation: you will observe a pre-school child in their family or nursery setting to learn about the emotional meaning of a child’s behaviour as they start to relate to others outside the family.

Dissertation: the aim of the Dissertation (12000-14000 words) is to develop an application of psychoanalytic ideas and approaches to a subject of interest.  Some student’s dissertations have been revised to become published articles and a number of former students have gone on to publish books. 

Below are some titles of successfully-completed dissertations:

  • The Maison Verte: a Transitional Space. An introduction to the work of Françoise Dolto.
  • The Psychodynamics of an Émigré Family Business: Intergenerational Creativity and Survival
  • A Psychoanalytical Investigation into the Sense of Home in the Poetry of John Clare
  • Beguiling the Hours: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Boredom
  • The Work of Christopher Bollas illustrated by the film Lost in Translation
  • (Dis)integration in a Foreign Land: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Migration
  • O My Days! A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Language of British Young Offenders in the 21st Century
  • Peace and Terror: Psychoanalytic concepts of psychosis and George Mitchell's management of the Northern Ireland peace process
  • The beginning of the end of an affair? An exploration of psychoanalytic and psychatric models of the mind in two cases of psychosis
  • The Death Instinct in the work of Ibsen (based on ‘Hedda Gabler’ and ‘The Master Builder’) 
  • David Hockney: the Recovery of the Lost Loved Object 
  • The Psychoanalysis of Occupation (reflecting on Occupational Therapy) 
  • The Easter Tridium and Psychoanalysis
  • The Narcissistic world of Turandot
  • The Ordination of Women Priests
  • Flamenco “And without school learning (...) the gypsy dances. Because he feels it and that is enough” López, 1999 

Psychoanalysis in practice

If you pass an additional interview, you also attend clinical workshops and seminars. You can choose the workshops and seminars according to your interest and experience, but this additional programme may not be suitable for everyone. Please note that this is a bespoke part of the programme and fees are available on request.

This world renowned course has been running for over 20 years and will equip you with an in-depth understanding of psychoanalytic theory and its potential applications to other fields.  It will enable you to make links between theory and your own experience of watching unconscious processes unfold by undertaking an observation of a baby or young child.  Crucially, it will offer you the opportunity to think about how an understanding of emotional states can contribute to our understanding of culture and society.  

You will also benefit from being taught by senior clinicians as well as academics who have developed particular interest in the applications of psychoanalysis to culture and society over a minimum of three seminars a week during term time (six seminars a week for full-time students). You will have the use of an extensive library which is used by all students and staff and you can also join clinical seminars or workshops in a programme called Psychoanalysis in Practice.

The emphasis of this creative course is on learning from experience and you will be encouraged to use your own emotional responses, as well as theory, to help you make sense of the ideas that you will be studying.  You will have a generous amount of time with your tutors, many of whom are practicing clinicians.

What our students say

"This course has been the most intellectually nourishing course I've attended since I sat my finals."

"This course was a real journey. I think it changed all our lives, not just mine, in the group."

"I have not felt so mentally alive for years."

"It gave me a greater sense of the world around me." 

If you are interested in learning about psychoanalytic ideas and their application to the arts, politics and literature, or just learn more about them.  You may do this course out of interest or already be a practicing clinician who wants to inform your professional practice or considering clinical training in the future.

This course serves as an excellent intermediary pathway for those unsure about whether they would like to work with children or adults for example on our Foundations of psychodynamic psychotherapy (D58) or Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80) courses.

We have welcomed students from a variety of backgrounds including law, medicine, the arts and journalism. Many have taken this course to gain a substantial and wide-ranging introduction to psychoanalysis and its applications.

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

  • have a degree, or other qualification of equivalent level.  

We also welcome your application if you don’t have a standard educational background, or if you are currently engaged in, or wish to pursue, academic study rather than related professional work.


Tuesdays 2pm to 7.30pm (with a fortnightly 12:30pm start in the spring term) and Wednesdays 3.45 to 6.15pm.


The course is assessed with the submission of written essays for each module. You will also submit in the first year, a portfolio of observations for the Infant Observation module.

Dexter Benjamin

Dexter Benjamin

Dexter Benjamin trained as a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist, with a specialism in schools and Tier 3 adolescent outpatients services. He currently works for the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, as Team Manager and Service Supervisor for the Fostering Adoption and Kinship Care team, and Course Lead for the Psychoanalytic Studies MA. He also teaches as a visiting lecturer on a number of courses in the trust, and works privately, as consultant and supervisor respectively, with organisations and professionals working with children and young people.


£ 8,300


£ 16,600

For more information about how Brexit may affect your fee status, please see Brexit information for EU & EEA and Swiss Nationals

Please note that course fees are subject to a 3% or CPI uplift each year, whichever is greater.

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

MA / Master's
Course length:
Up to 2 years
The Tavistock Centre, London
Adults and children
Theoretical approach:
Admission status:
Course lead:
Dexter Benjamin

Enquire about this course

Make an enquiry

Similar courses:

Next steps

Foundations of psychodynamic psychotherapy (D58)

Validated by University of Essex, this course forms part one of a training that enables you to be registered with The British Psychoanalytic...

Find out more
Working with children, young people & families: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7 Daytime)

This flagship course aims to provide professional development to people working with children, young people and families. The focus of the course...

Find out more