Refugee care (M35)

Course overview

This is the only course of its kind that includes a placement within an organisation related to working with refugee people and it is the longest running course in its field in the UK and is delivered with the University of Essex.  The central focus of this course is to introduce a therapeutic dimension and a psychosocial perspective to working with refugees and asylum seekers. It is the only postgraduate course to offer a combination of modules with this emphasis, making a clear distinction between being therapeutic in working with refugees and offering psychotherapy to them.

Please note that teaching will take place at both the University in Colchester and the Tavistock Centre in London.

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.

This course will help enhance your understanding and skills in working with refugee people using your own experience as context. You will examine the complexities of the refugee experience from a holistic perspective and using systemic, narrative, psychodynamic and liberation psychology approaches.  You will consider therapeutic, clinical, theoretical, organisational, social and political viewpoints among others.

You will have the opportunity to explore the social, cultural and political contexts relevant to asylum seeking/refugee people and families using frameworks that are therapeutic and empowering and that will assist you in working directly with these groups.

You will learn through seminars and lectures, work in a placement in a relevant refugee institution/service and participate in a placement group which combines theory and practice. Supervision will provide you with an important forum to help you integrate different areas of work and develop a conceptual framework that will facilitate your direct work with asylum seeking / refugee people. You will also be expected to undertake a systematic observation of an organisation and complete a research dissertation.

Research in this field is woven into the fabric of the curriculum on this course. The written assignments are designed to deepen your knowledge of the complex issues discussed in the academic community, the work observed and your placement experiences. Emphasis is placed on interactive, reflective and co-operative learning styles.

This is the only course of its kind that includes a placement within an organisation related to working with refugee people. It is the longest running course in its field in the UK and is delivered with the University of Essex.

You will develop a systematic understanding of the complexities of the various interconnecting contexts involved in the refugee situation. Contexts ranging from societal parameters to individual and family dynamics, the institutional dynamics of refugee services, aid organisations and, importantly, the personal dynamics of refugee workers themselves.

The course includes a thoughtful combination of practical and experiential elements, such as placements and institutional observations, to support a sound theoretical framework the complexities of the refugee experience, such as family and societal factors, interactions with various services, institutions and organisations, and the inter-personal dynamics involved between refugees and their workers.

This course is for you if you work with or want to work with asylum seeking/refugee people in a different capacity. You may be a voluntary worker, social worker, manager, mental health worker, teacher, psychologist, community worker, GP, public sector worker or psychotherapist.

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

  • a university degree (or equivalent) in any subject, 2:2 or above,
  • a record of relevant work/experience or serious intent to work in relevant settings with refugees/asylum seekers.

Applications to this course are made via the University of Essex application portal.

Full time students attend weekly Refugee Care seminars on Mondays at the Tavistock and Portman in terms 1 and 2 and part of term 3. They will also attend Tuesday seminars at the University of Essex Colchester campus in terms 1 and 2. For an idea of journey times and costs to these destinations please visit the National Rail website. 

Tavistock and Portman modules:

  • Mondays, 4.30 to 6.30pm during the autumn term
  • Mondays, 1.15 to 5pm during the spring term
  • Mondays 3.30 to 5pm during the summer term

Essex modules:

  • Tuesdays (exact time to be confirmed by Essex university)

David Amias

Consultant Systemic & Family Psychotherapist

David Amias BA Hons MSW, MSc is dually qualified as a social worker (MSW in Social Work attained in 1984 from Haifa University) and as a family therapist (MSc in Family Therapy) attained in 1993 from Brunel University in association with the Tavistock Clinic).

He has worked with children and families first as a social worker and then as a systemic psychotherapist for 30 years in different statutory and voluntary health and social care contexts. He is an experienced supervisor, consultant and teacher of family therapy and systemic practice specialising in the domains of social care and refugee work.

He has held his current post held is as Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust since 2005. At the Tavistock Centre he works in the CAMHS Refugee Service, runs the CPD Course – Working with Refugee People and their Families (D35) and co-ordinates the Tavistock modules of the MA in Refugee Care run in association with Essex University (M35).

He also works for the Trust at the Camden Multi-Agency Liaison Team undertaking complex assessments, writing reports for court and offering brief focused family therapy as appropriate.


£8760 per annum


£18,900 per annum

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

MA / Master's
Course length:
1 year
All day Mondays
The Tavistock Centre, London, Colchester
Admission status:
Course lead:
David Amias