Psychology of the Arts - ARTS5200

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Freya Vass checkmark-circle


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 also 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.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Summary and critical reflection on selected book-length text (1,500 words), 20%
Research project presentation (7-8 minutes or standard size scientific poster presentation) 30%
Literature review of selected topic in cognitive arts research (3,000 words) 50%

Reassessment methods:
Summary and critical reflection: like for like submission
Research presentation: presentation to instructor only
Literature review: like for like submission

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

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

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Understand and interrogate various critical approaches and the theoretical assumptions that underpin the approaches covered;
2. Critically read, analyse and use a range of primary and secondary texts (academic books, journals and articles) across disciplines;
3. Apply enhanced intellectual skills of synthesis, summarisation, critical judgement and problem-solving;
4. Apply enhanced skills of communication;
5. Effectively utilise written academic formats and presentation technologies to present their work;
6. Manage workloads to meet deadlines, and sustain focus for extended periods working on independent creative projects, developing autonomy and self management;
7. Demonstrate independent learning abilities and responsiveness to feedback.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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