Taught course

Working with Children, Young People and Families: A Psychoanalytic Observational Approach

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust · Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to:

  • have at least one year of prior experience (paid or voluntary) directly working with children and/or adolescents and/or families;
  • have an interest in, and aptitude for, learning about emotional development, observation and psychoanalytic thinking;
  • be currently undertaking direct work with children, young people, parents or families, for a minimum one to two days per week;
  • have a first degree, or the equivalent, or be able to demonstrate that you can meet the academic demands of the course;
  • provide two references, one from an employer who can give an account of your work with children.

Months of entry


Course content

Over the three years, you will study:

  • infant observation
  • work discussion
  • child development research
  • psychoanalytic theory
  • young child observation
  • experiential group
  • MA dissertation

Year one:

Infant observation

In the first year, you will observe a baby in its family home every week for up to two years. Your observations will be presented for discussion in a small seminar group and your experience of observing will be the basis for learning about very early development and relationships.

Work discussion

You will attend a multidisciplinary seminar to which you will bring detailed studies of your work for discussion. This helps you improve your understanding of the unconscious dynamics at play at institutional and interpersonal levels and the possible emotional meaning of communications.

Psychoanalytic theory: one

You will study the application of psychoanalytic ideas to individual, inter-personal, group and institutional unconscious processes and dynamics on a fortnightly basis.

Child development research

You will attend fortnightly lectures, with related reading, covering recent and seminal

Year two:

Young child observation

In the second year, you will observe a pre-school child in its family or in a nursery setting for an hour a week learning about the emotional meaning of the child’s behaviour as she or he starts to relate to others outside the family.

Psychoanalytic theory: two

This seminar offers a grounding in the development of psychoanalytic ideas. You will read and critically appraise key papers by Freud, Klein and others.

Experiential group

You will attend a weekly experiential seminar for 14 weeks. This offers an opportunity for students to gain an understanding of the dynamics at work in groups by studying the processes alive in the experiential seminar.

Year three:

MA dissertation

In year three, you will undertake your dissertation with individual supervision and seminars to help you develop and research your ideas and write your dissertation.

Course length and timings

This is a three year Masters level course. Students may exit after one year with a Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) or after two years with a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip).

This course can be studied via a day time or evening study mode. Daytime classes run on Wednesday between 10am and 3.15pm. Evening classes run on Mondays between 7pm-8.15pm and Wednesday between 7pm -9.45pm - please note you will have to attend on both Monday and Wednesday evenings.

Term dates and reading weeks 2016-2017

Autumn: 10 teaching weeks

Start date: Monday 26 September 2016
Reading week: Monday 24 - Friday 28 October 2016
End date: Wednesday 7 December 2016

Spring: 10 teaching weeks (Monday evenings 11 teaching weeks)

Start date: Monday 9 January 2017
Reading week: Monday 13 - Friday 17 February 2017
End date: Wednesday 22 March & Monday 27 March 2017

Summer: 8 teaching weeks (Monday evenings 7 teaching weeks)

Start date: Wednesday 19 April 2017
Reading week: Monday 29 May - Friday 2 June 2017
End date: Wednesday 14 June & Monday 19 June 2017


Christmas break: 4 weeks

Easter break: 3 weeks

Bank holidays:

  • Christmas day holiday: Tuesday 27 December 2016
  • Boxing day: Monday 26 December 2016
  • New Year's day: Monday 2 January 2017
  • Good Friday: Friday 14 April 2017
  • Easter Monday: Monday 17 April 2017
  • May day bank holiday: Monday 1 May 2017
  • Spring bank holiday: Monday 29 May 2017

Fees and funding

UK students
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.

Qualification and course duration


part time
36 months

Course contact details

Rosa Akerman
+44 (0)20 8938 2213 / 2214