Psychology of the Arts - ART520

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR F Vass-Rhee







This interdisciplinary course will examine historical and current theoretical ideas and research on the ways in which art is created and perceived. Artforms that will be considered include visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, popular art), performing arts (dance and theater), music, and film. Readings will interface with subdisciplines of psychology such as perception, psychoaesthetics, neurophysiology, social psychology, and studies of emotion. Principal areas of focus will include aesthetics, arts-experimental design, perception of art, meaning in art, the psychology of the creative process, social and cultural issues, and the ramifications of arts-sciences research. The primary focus will be on Western art forms, though other world art traditions and aesthetics will be discussed. Assessment methods will test understanding through a summary and critical reflection on a selected text and the proposal, research, and design and oral presentation of a potential interdisciplinary research project.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Contact hours: 44 hours
Private study hours: 256 hours
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Summary and critical reflection on selected book-length text (1500 words), 20%
Research project presentation (10 minutes) 30%
Literature review of selected topic in cognitive arts research (3000 words) 50%

Indicative reading

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Understand the history and current practice of psychological and cognitive research of the arts (visual art, music, theatre, dance, and film);
- Demonstrate understanding of empirical and arts-sciences interdisciplinary paradigms of arts research, including their aims, formats, and applications;
- Demonstrate understanding of current research on sensation, perception, cognition, and emotion and the applications of this research in cognitive studies of the arts;
- Demonstrate understanding of interdisciplinary arts-sciences research through analysis of artworks/performances/genres from a cognitive perspective;
- Demonstrate deeper understanding of artists' creative processes and engagement with the minds of their works' audiences;
- Understand the cultural dynamics that influence popular views and evaluation of interdisciplinary arts-sciences research.

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