Postgraduate Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice

Course details

The information on this page relates to 2023 entry. Details will be updated when the course opens to applications for 2025 entry.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice develops from the Postgraduate Certificate in Psychodynamic Counselling, integrating theoretical knowledge with clinical experience. The course forms part of the Oxford University Master’s Programme in Psychodynamic Studies.

The course places equal emphasis on theory, practice and personal development and is designed to bring trainees to the level of professional competence; to that end all trainees will have a clinical placement, clinical supervision, and be in personal therapy.

Students who successfully complete the Certificate course may apply to become trainees on the Diploma.

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Course structure

The course is part-time, held on Thursday evenings from 6-9.30pm over six ten-week terms in two years. There are two Saturday workshops per year.

Teaching takes place in both whole group and smaller group sessions with three individual tutorials per term. Course evenings commence with a lecture/application session. After a coffee break there is a clinical seminar with a clinical seminar leader, followed by an experiential group. On the last night of each term the experiential groups are replaced by community review meetings with all members of the course.

Extensive regular reading and private study of a minimum 10 hours per week between the taught periods is recommended.

Trainees are required to attend all scheduled sessions and must undertake personal therapy, clinical supervision and clinical placement between course nights. Trainees should seek to take personal holidays outside term time.


The Masters Programme is accredited by the Universities Psychotherapy & Counselling Association (UPCA), which is a full organisational member of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) through the UKCP University Training College (UTC).  All students should apply for student membership of UPCA on starting the course. In addition, you can apply individually to the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) after completion of the PGDip (Register) and after completion of the masters (Accreditation).

Course details

Lecture/application sessions

Delivered by outside lecturers or course staff, these sessions will include topics in the areas of the historical and contemporary theoretical perspectives, clinical approaches to psychotherapy, difference in the clinic, working with diversity, research and reflective practice and short-term work.

The aim of the lecture/application sessions is to enable trainees to develop a detailed knowledge of psychodynamic theory, philosophy and its applications.

Clinical seminars

The aim of the clinical seminars is to enable trainees to integrate theoretical knowledge with practical clinical skills and experience gained by supervised clinical practice with clients/patients on placement. Trainees will meet weekly in small groups with a clinical seminar leader to discuss clinical topics and issues.

Experiential groups

These agenda-less groups will assist trainees to reflect in an unstructured way on their experience of learning and to increase their capacity for self-awareness in relation to others on the course. Although trainees may wish to bring personal material to the groups, these are not therapy groups. The groups are aimed at facilitating the development of trainees as reflective practitioners and to encourage the self-reflection central to the psychodynamic approach.

Saturday workshops

There will be all day workshops on a Saturday in November and May in each year of the course.

Supervised placement

Clinical placements, which must be approved by the Programme Director, are a central aspect of trainees’ learning on the Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice; a minimum of 100 hours of client work with supervision at 1:6 ratio must be completed during the course. Placements provide clinical experience where trainees can integrate their theoretical learning on the course with the therapeutic understanding gained from placements and face to face clinical work. They offer the opportunity, under regular clinical supervision, to establish and develop therapeutic relationships and to begin the practice of therapeutic work central to the establishment of clinical competence and reflective practice. Trainees are able, through the experience of working in a team or as part of an organisation offering a clinical service, to learn about the effect the clinical environments have on the therapeutic process. Placements provide the opportunity to develop professional and administrative skills, which are central to the development of independent practitioner status. Clinical placement providers will require students to undertake and pass an enhanced DBS check.

Personal therapy

Personal therapy is a cornerstone of the psychodynamic approach and trainees are required to complete a minimum of 80 hours with a course approved therapist over the two years of the course.


Assessment will be by coursework, comprising two case studies, a theoretical essay, a placement log extract and a reflective journal extract (all not more than 3,000 words) and a dissertation (10,000 words), with a possible viva voce. The five assignments will each count for 14%, and the dissertation for 30% of the final mark. To be successfully awarded the Diploma, you will need to meet attendance requirements, pass each assignment and the dissertation, complete placement and therapy hours and receive satisfactory tutor and placement supervisor reports.

In the event of there being any reservations over the readiness of a trainee to practice safely a further year of clinical training may be authorised.

Course outcomes

By the end of the course students should have achieved:

  • a detailed knowledge of psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy theory, philosophy and techniques
  • a level of professional competence in generic psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy, which enables them to practise professionally as counsellors/psychotherapists on completion of the Diploma
  • the ability to integrate theoretical knowledge with practical clinical skills and experience gained by  supervised clinical practice with clients/patients on placement
  • the development of skills to analyse and apply psychodynamic theories and concepts in written assignments and to clinical settings.

Who should apply

Students who successfully complete the Certificate course may apply to become trainees on the Diploma. All candidates must have been in psychodynamic personal therapy for at least six months prior to commencement of the course.

Please note that in their own interest no applicant currently in therapy/counselling with a course tutor will be admitted to the course.

Trainees on the Diploma course may apply to continue on to the MSt. for further supervised research and clinical tuition. Because the MSt. subsumes the award of the postgraduate Diploma, candidates wishing to apply for the MSt. will have satisfactorily completed the Diploma course or be currently enrolled on year two of the Diploma.

If you would like guidance on general matters relating to the course, please contact the Programme Administrator (Psychodynamic Studies), on 01865 280725 or email:

Application details

Fees and additional expenses

For information about fees and additional expenses please visit the course page on the Oxford Graduate Admissons website.

For accreditation purposes trainee membership of UPCA is required for the duration of the PG Diploma course, currently £45 per year.

Where applicable, students are responsible for the cost of their own personal therapy. All therapists treating students must be approved by the Director of Courses (who can offer the names of suitable therapists). Additional costs may be incurred for membership of relevant associations and for supervision at some clinical placements.


How to apply

This course accepts applications every two years. Applications for 2025 entry will open in September 2024.

Please be aware that we may consider applications received in January with the applications received in March. Late applications may be accepted, if places remain. 

For further information about how to apply please contact the Course Administrator, (tel: +44 (0)1865 280725; email:

Visa information

For part-time courses longer than six months with a weekly or monthly attendance requirement you will not be eligible for a Tier 4 visa or the Short Term Student route based on the structure of the course.