This module aims to help students understand more fully the conscious and unconscious dynamics in organisations. Beginning with Freud’s original and critical work on group psychology we explore the contribution that psychoanalysis and social and organisational psychology have made to our understanding of working and organisational life. Using a primarily psychoanalytic lens, we will consider the ways in which organisational and working life can be pulled too far toward unhelpful technical and procedural practices by powerful unconscious defences operating within and between people and organisational structures. How have psychoanalytic and systemic ideas helped to make sense of seemingly irrational organisational phenomena and striven to keep alive the ‘human touch’ in organisational and group life and assist in support a capacity to face the realities of work more effectively? What can the individual do to improve organisations, help keep them ‘on task’ and strengthen their potential therapeutic or enabling qualities?

In particular, you will have the opportunity to deepen your observation skills by undertaking a psychoanalytic observation in a working organisation and learn how to make sense of both the objective and subjective material emerging from this research process.

You will also take part in an experiential workshop in which organisational and group processes can be directly experienced, observed and understood.


• To understand the contribution psychoanalysis can make to the study of organisational dynamics and working life
• To provide students with greater capacity to make psychodynamic observations in different settings
• To enable students to develop psychodynamic and systemic understanding of organisational life and structures
• To develop students’ capacity to generate hypotheses and gather relevant observational evidence to support or challenge them
• To develop students’ capacity to observe themselves and others in group and organisational experiences

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students should have:

• Understand the history, development and application of psychoanalytic ideas to organisational dynamics
• Be able to apply psychodynamic insight to a wide range of organisational settings
• Developed a greater capacity for psychodynamic observation
• Developed a more advanced capacity to generate and test hypotheses about organisational dynamics
• Developed a more advanced capacity to make sense of their own and others’ organisational behaviour and experiences