The Art and Aesthetics of the Natural Environment - HART8007

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module explores the natural environment as the subject matter of aesthetic attention and value, as well as creative interventions into nature such as landscaping, gardens and land art. Differing contemporary approaches to understanding the aesthetic value of nature and the natural environment will be explored, as well as older concepts, such as the picturesque, natural beauty and the sublime, that were important in the first attempts to think of the natural environment as site of aesthetic experience and value. The issues of climate change and environmental degradation will provide a backdrop throughout the module, providing increased focus upon the aesthetic value of nature, the natural environment and the interventions of land artists.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 46
Total private study hours: 254
Total module study hours: 300


Optional for MA History and Philosophy of Art

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Digital Portfolio (3,000 words) – 40 %
Essay (3,000 words) – 60 %

Reassessment methods

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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:

Indicative list:
Parsons, G. (2008) Aesthetics and Nature, London: Bloomsbury
Budd, M. (2006) The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature, Oxford: OUP
Carlson, A. (2008) Nature, Aesthetics and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty, New York, Columbia University Press
Tuan, Y.-F. (2013) Passing Strange and Wonderful: Aesthetics, Nature and Culture, New York: Island Press
Berleant, A. (2018) Aesthetics and Environment, London Routledge
Kastner, J. and Wallis B. (2010) Land and Environmental Art, London: Phaidon
Ross, S. (1998) What Gardens Mean, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Distinguish and explain the various ways in which artists have conceived of, represented and intervened within the natural environment.
2. Explain and evaluate the significance of aesthetic concepts and theories relevant to understanding the natural world and the various forms of land art.
3. Outline and critically discuss the history of landscape art and land art, identifying key moments, styles and artists.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between art and identity.
5. Critically re-evaluate the history and aesthetics of the environment and environmental art through the prism of contemporary concerns about environmental degradation.
6. Demonstrate an advanced ability to synthesize ideas and concepts relevant to the representation of the natural world, environmental art and the concepts and theories that have sought to understand them.
7. Demonstrate an ability to investigate further the topics being considered through independent research into ideas and materials not addressed in lectures and seminars.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate skills of visual, critical and historical analysis, together with generic intellectual skills of synthesis, summarisation, critical judgement and problem-solving, that will allow for the construction of original and persuasive arguments.
2. Demonstrate the skills of communication, improving performance, problem-solving, working with others and effective use of appropriate vocabulary and illustrations, ideas and arguments to a variety of audiences and/or using a variety of methods.
3. Appropriately use a range of learning and reference resources (including visual resources) within the Templeman Library and elsewhere, including the critical use of the internet and a range of primary and secondary texts.
4. Employ information technologies to research and present their work.
5. Demonstrate the acquisition of an independent learning style; for example in the preparation and presentation of course work, in showing the ability to reflect on their own learning and by mediating complex arguments to a variety of audiences and/or using a variety of methods
6. Approach problem-solving creatively, and form critical and evaluative judgments about the appropriateness of these approaches to a level where a substantial degree of autonomy and self-reflexive awareness is achieved in these tasks.
7. Demonstrate advanced research and presentation skills.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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