Course Features

  • Provides rigorously supervised clinical training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy contributing to a professional qualification to practice
  • Requires engagement in one’s own psychoanalysis, the cornerstone of psychoanalytic practice
  • Provides weekly small group and individual clinical supervision
  • Provides a rigorous theoretical study of the principles underlying psychoanalytic practice
  • Includes participation at a weekly psychiatric case conference at St. Vincent's University Hospital which is a unique teaching forum bringing together psychiatric and psychoanalytic responses to mental illness
  • Includes dissertation for experience of research appropriate to the field
  • Can form part of a four-year continuous training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy

Course Overview

This part-time two-year programme provides a rigorous supervised clinical training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy contributing to a professional qualification to practice this therapeutic method with adults.

Since its inception in 1984, the programme has significantly contributed to the formation in clinical practice for many psychoanalytic practitioners and other clinicians who benefit from a psychoanalytic influence on their work. It is relevant for any mental health professional, including GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, counsellors, and nurses. The programme also accepts applications from candidates from other backgrounds who are suitable for the programme based on their own prior experience of psychoanalysis.

Course Description

This part-time two-year programme provides professional clinical training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy founded on a student’s engagement in their own psychoanalysis. It launches the student in beginning to practise psychoanalytically under supervision.

The programme’s module content develops understanding of the principles underlying the clinical practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a discipline launched by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud. The programme content is strongly informed by the work of French Psychoanalyst and Psychiatrist, Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981), whose seminars and writings elaborated Freud’s work.

Psychoanalysis is a practice founded on attending to unconscious mental life. It takes seriously Sigmund Freud’s proposal to us that “the most complicated achievements of thought are possible without the assistance of consciousness.” From these processes erupt not only our mental pathologies and psychological symptoms but also the joke that surprises into spontaneous laughter – that is, a mental product that has real physiological effects. These sophisticated, unconscious processes of the mind represent the concerns and wishes each of us carry when faced with the task of human existence. Psychoanalysis is a treatment for debilitating perplexity experienced by some in their relation to the world.

Students engage with the question of what it is to practice psychoanalytically – requiring a clinical position that listens differently to other mental health practices. It can very productively contribute alongside other practices such as psychiatry and psychology to our society’s response to mental disorder and illness.

Psychoanalysis contributes importantly to our understanding of contemporary cultural concerns such as our presuppositions and prejudices concerning the normal and the pathological, deviancy and violence. Many of its concepts inform diverse fields of academic and artistic enquiry and endeavour including law and criminology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, literature, the visual arts and their critique.


The course is delivered in 13 modules:

  • Eight of these – four modules in Year One and 4 in Year Two - provide five credits each
  • Of the remaining five modules, four are specifically related to clinical training and assessment and run continuously throughout the two years. These are Supervision of Clinical Practice and Clinical Diagnostics and Research, each contributing 7.5 credits yearly. The final module is by dissertation and contributes 20 credits.
  • Attendance must be 80% or higher throughout the course
  • Assessment is by continuous assessment for the taught modules and a mark for the thesis
  • Total credits awarded: 90 ECTS


Human Sexuality and Sexuation

Transference and the Interpretation of desire

Ethics, Research Methodology and Clinical Applications


Clinical Diagnostics and Research (Part I)

Supervision of Clinical Practice 1

Clinical Diagnostics and Research (Part 2 )

Supervision of Clinical Practice 2

Dissertation Year 2

The Symptom and The Dream

Psychoanalysis in Context

Psychoanalysis and language 

Psychoanalysis and the child


This is a two year part-time course which accepts applicants on an annual basis. Attendance is on Wednesday afternoon/evening (2.00 – 7.45pm) and Thursday morning (9.00 - 1.00pm) over 4 semesters from early September to early May each year. The weekly contact hours are divided between formal teaching, including seminars (5½ hours), ‘small group’ supervision (1½ hours) and attendance at the weekly psychiatric case conference at St Vincent’s University Hospital (1 hour). Students are expected to have - at a minimum – the equivalent of at least one further day available for work related to the programme which comprises personal psychoanalysis (minimum two sessions a week), clinical practice with a minimum of two clients a week, attending individual supervision weekly and preparing and researching all course work. Students need time for their thesis from January to May in the second year of the programme.

All teaching is carried out in the School of Psychotherapy at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4, with the weekly psychiatric case conference taking place in the Education and Research Centre also at St Vincent’s University Hospital.


  • The MSc will be awarded upon successful completion of all assessment work as well as the following programme requirements: attendance at teaching sessions, at the case conferences, at both group and individual supervision, conducting of a sufficient amount of clinical practice, confirmation of being in psychoanalysis for the duration of the programme
  • There will be no end-of-year examinations
  • Course work includes essays, assignments, group assessments, weekly case conference reports and a research thesis of 7,500 words
  • An attendance rate of 80% is required throughout the course
  • To attain the MSc, participants must-pass the Supervision of Clinical Practice and Clinical Diagnostics and Research and Dissertation modules
  • An expected learning outcome is the realisation of the necessity for a practitioner to continue in their own psychoanalysis for as long as they practise psychoanalytically

The MSc in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Studies is a two-year programme that can contribute to the education and training of psychoanalytic psychotherapists. On its own it will not fulfil requirements to apply for membership to psychotherapy professional bodies within the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP). The ICP professional bodies all require a minimum four-year period of training in a specific modality. These include the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland ( and the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy ( With this in mind, a new four year part-time programme was developed, X993 Professional Masters in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

For informal enquiries on the MSc in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Studies and on the four-year Professional Masters in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, contact Dr. Gráinne Donohue

The course is of fundamental relevance for:

  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Doctors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Therapists
  • Counsellors
  • Nurses

The programme has from its inception offered places to a range of individuals from other professional backgrounds, ranging from the arts and academia, through to teaching, business and the law.

The requirement for all applicants is evidence of a commitment to the applicant’s own psychoanalysis. This is best provided by already having started one’s psychoanalysis.

The course has produced hundreds of graduates, the majority of whom continue to work in their primary professions using psychoanalytic principles to inform that work.

Many graduates have set up their own private practice, while remaining in personal therapy and supervision. Some become psychoanalysts who remain in personal analysis and additionally make a scholarly contribution to teaching, training and research.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates are required to be able to demonstrate a commitment to study and practice in the psychoanalytic field as articulated in the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.

Being in one's own analysis is the primary way of demonstrating this commitment. Previous psychoanalytic study is welcome but not a pre-requisite where there has been experience of psychoanalysis.  Previous clinical/relevant experience in other practices (psychiatry, psychology, social work, social care work, education, nursing, law) is welcome but not a pre-requisite.

Candidates should: 

(a) be engaged in their own personal psychoanalysis with a reputable practitioner  

(b) have a good honours degree / evidence of academic ability required for MSc level study

(c) be in a position to begin to work psychoanalytically in a psychotherapy context under supervision within the first year of the programme

It is required that students on the MSc are in their own psychoanalysis / psychoanalytic psychotherapy for the duration of the programme and put in place arrangements to work with patients psychoanalytically.

Please contact Dr. Gráinne Donohue  if you would like to arrange to speak about these eligibility criteria and how to prepare to meet them.

  • International applicants should contact UCD Global Office for a full list of entry requirements.
  • A list of FAQs for international applicants is available here.

Deadline: Preferably by the end of May. Later applications may be considered at the discretion of the programme team.

There are two interviews as part of the application process and these will be scheduled from April of the year of application.

Application for this programme must be made on-line at

For more information on the application process please visit the UCD Registry website here.

For information on course fees please visit the Fees & Grants Office website.

Academic Programme Coordinator: 

Dr. Gráinne Donohue

Module Co-ordinator

St Vincent’s University Hospital

Elm Park, Dublin 4


Key Information:

  • Major Code X990
  • Duration 24 Months
  • Schedule Part-Time
  • Next Intake September 2024

Ready to take the next step?

Apply Now