Introduction to Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art - HA362

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 4 30 (15) checkmark-circle


This course aims to provide students with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The first part of the course focuses on some of the major texts in the history of the philosophy of art in the western tradition (e.g., Plato's Republic, Aristotle’s Poetics, Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste and Kant’s Critique of Judgement). The second part of the course focuses on central contemporary debates in the philosophy of art (e.g., What is Art? Artistic and Aesthetic Evaluation and the problem of forgery, Intention and Interpretation, Ethical criticism of art, Art and Emotion, Art and Feminism.) The student will be encouraged to see connections between the two parts of the module and to understand how contemporary debates (both philosophical and those found in the public opinion and art criticism) can be traced back to or even helpfully illuminated by old and contemporary philosophical debates.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2000 words) (50%)
Essay 2 (1000 words) (25%)
Seminar Preparation (25%)

Indicative reading

Plato, The Republic, (books II, III and X), Aristotle, Poetics, (Penguin), Hume Of the Standard of Taste, Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement, tr. J. C. Meredith, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1952 (1790). Levinson, Jerrold, The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Gaut, Berys, and Dominic McIver Lopes, eds., The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, 2nd edn (Routledge, 2005); Noel Carroll – Philosophy of Art (Routledge)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- demonstrate a broad understanding of some important classic texts and authors in the history of the Philosophy of Art and a broad understanding of the central debates about art and artistic evaluation in contemporary philosophy;
- demonstrate how to relate the ideas and concepts that can be found in classic texts with the ideas and debates that are currently discussed in the philosophy of art and art criticism;
- demonstrate an understanding of the relevance of philosophical ideas to everyday artistic practice and criticism;
- demonstrate the conceptual and intellectual tools to understand, evaluate and argue about art.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage 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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