M.A. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society

Brunel University

Application deadline: as early as possible
Tuition fee:
  • £ 6,250 / Year (EEA)
  • £ 14,250 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2015
Credits (ECTS): 180 ECTS
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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* How are our behaviours influenced by unconscious motives?
* Which conflicts lie at the heart of contemporary individual and social problems?
* What explains our cultural and ideological obsession with power and violence?

This MA is designed to provide you with a training in classical and contemporary psychoanalytic theory. It maintains a constant attention to the relation between theory and practice and provides a clinical grounding through its emphasis on the clinical writings of Freud, Klein and Lacan.

The MA also offers the opportunity to develop a psychoanalytic approach to contemporary socio-cultural issues, in particular questions of political ideology, social conflict and violence. It engages with the relation between the psychoanalytic and social fields by exploring how to conceive of a psychoanalytic social theory. It questions how we can provide a specifically psychoanalytic account of social relations and it engages with issues raised by post-structuralist and feminist accounts of sexuality.

This degree is relevant to a wide range of graduates in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Fine Art, as well as those with professional interests in psychotherapy and analysis who wish to develop and apply their skills to the issues and areas on which this degree focuses.

Previous and current students have included art and film students, teachers and art historians as well as psychologists and analysts - and recently included a performance artist. Many overseas students have also undertaken this degree not only from most European countries but also from Latin America and farther afield.


The course engages with the issue of the relation between the psychoanalytic and social fields by exploring how to think a psychoanalytic social theory. Unlike many approaches to theorising the social in relation to the psychoanalytic field, it does not approach this question by adding "psychoanalysis" to an already existing theory of the social world, nor by reducing the social to the psychic. Rather, it questions how we can provide a specifically psychoanalytic account of social relations. In thinking the relation between psyche and sociality, it engages with the issues raised by the psychoanalytic and feminist accounts of sexuality. These issues are taken and further explored in an examination of psychoanalysis as social theory, particularly as developed by Slavoj Zizek. This work enables us to consider social relations as real, imaginary and symbolic relations between subjects. The social in the psychoanalytic field is rethought as constituted in phantasmatic and symbolic relations between subjects. Rethinking the social relation in this way raises questions about the relation between social change and the clinic, bringing the question of sociality within the field of clinical practice. In this way, the social relation is re-inscribed in the psychoanalytic relation.

The relation between social change and the clinic is also explored through the aesthetic object. If we take seriously the proposition that the world is psychoanalytic, then we can take the aesthetic object and treat it psychoanalytically. Unlike much work in this area, this course does not begin with the particular disciplinary formulation of the art object as a function of art history, art criticism or a clinical reading. Instead, it questions how we can provide a psychoanalytic account of the aesthetic object and what a psychoanalytic practice in the field of art might be. We can only do this by starting with the knowledge acquired in psychoanalytic clinical practice. Nonetheless the psychoanalytic field of art has its own autonomy. This course and the work of the students on it will contribute to the development of that autonomous field. The knowledge derived from the encounter with the cultural object has implications for the clinic. After all, when Freud could not solve the riddle of sexual difference he told us to go to the poets for enlightenment. Cultural practices can signal social change. A psychoanalytic understanding of these practices can raise questions for clinical practice.

Typical modules (subject to change) may include:

Foundations of Psychoanalytic Theory

Clinical Interventions in Psychoanalysis

Symptom and Society

Research Methods in Psychoanalysis


A UK first or 2:2 Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts discipline. Applicants from a non-related discipline will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants with other degrees in a related discipline with relevant work experience will be considered on an individual basis..

English Language Requirements

* IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)

* Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)

* BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5
CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

60 (Grade C)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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