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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL5360M Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Alba Curry

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHIL3322Aesthetics & Phil of Art

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module examines philosophical issues concerning the nature and values of art, aesthetic appreciation, the nature of aesthetic knowledge and justification. It is a mark of civilisation that the arts are cultivated and promoted. The presumption is that art educates and ennobles the mind. It seems that we would know far less if we lived in a world devoid of literature, films, paintings and music. The course will investigate in philosophical terms just what such claims amount to and how, if at all, they can be justified.


This module will enable students to:

- understand and demonstrate coherent and detailed knowledge of central historical and contemporary issues in aesthetics and the philosophy of art;
- develop capacities for critical explication and presentation of arguments;
- describe and comment on particular aspects of recent research and/or scholarship concerning the nature and values of art, aesthetic appreciation, the nature of aesthetic knowledge and justification;
- appreciate the uncertainty and ambiguity of work in aesthetics and the philosophy of art;
- make appropriate use of scholarly reviews and primary sources. 

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of issues in aesthetics and the philosophy of art.

Demonstrate the ability to critically engage with and evaluate complex and varied material in aesthetics and the philosophy of art.

Develop a critical and nuanced argument in essay form engaging with relevant material using their own independent critical skills and drawing on material from a range of relevant sources. 

Conduct independent research and to make appropriate use of supervision structures. 


The module will address questions such as (for example):

What is to evaluate a work as art? Can taste be objective? Can we justify our aesthetic claims? Can we learn from art? Should immoral art works repel us? What is it for someone to be artistically creative?

We will examine philosophical approaches to such questions from historical figures such as Hume and Kant to more contemporary thinkers.

The module will cultivate a deeper philosophical understanding and reflection upon the nature of art, critical judgement, appreciation and the values of art.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours279.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Weekly reading and preparation for seminars: 9 x 10 = 90 hours

Research and preparation for essay: 101 hours

Essay writing (including drafts and revisions): 88 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be given:

In nine hour-long seminars, shared with students on the UG module, where the module leader will respond to student questions and support understanding based on the module content and readings.

In a one-to-one supervision where the module leader will comment and provide guidance and feedback on student essay plans of length 1000 words.

Office hours offered by the module leader and tutorial leader (if these are different).

Student progress will be monitored through submission of a 5,000 word essay submitted in Semester 1, Week 13, on which feedback will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay5000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:26:27


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