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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL3322 Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Victor Dura-Vila

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module examines philosophical issues concerning the nature and values of art, aesthetic appreciation, the nature of aesthetic knowledge and justification.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- understand and demonstrate coherent and detailed knowledge of central historical and contemporary issues in aesthetics and the philosophy of art;
- Deploy capacities for critical explication and presentation of arguments;
- demonstrate a conceptual understanding which enables the development and sustaining of an argument;
- describe and comment on particular aspects of recent research and/or scholarship;
- appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge in the discipline;
- make appropriate use of scholarly reviews and primary sources.


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. 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 hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Lecture preparation and reading: 48 hours (6 per topic)
Seminar preparation and reading: 24 hours (6 per seminar)
Further reading and independent research: 48 hours (6 per topic)
Essay planning, preparation and writing: 60 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Participation in seminars;
Discussion in office hours and at other appointments with module leader;
Students will have the opportunity to submit a 1000-word essay draft for feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words (end of module)100.00
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: 07/05/2024


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