Art of Portraiture: Historical and Philosophical Approaches - HART8360

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 7 30 (15) Hans Maes checkmark-circle


This module aims to give students an advanced understanding of concepts and methods involved in the study of portraits. A programme of seminars will explore recent philosophical and art historical literature on portraiture and related research topics. The historical development of portraiture and its different subgenres will be traced, influential portrait artists will be discussed and their work will be critically analysed – all of which will be addressed within a broader theoretical framework, focusing on philosophical issues such as the nature of personal identity, objectification, the definition of art, and theories of representation and genre.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay (4,000 words) – 70%
Seminar Preparation Notes – (2,000 words) – 30%

Reassessment methods

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 demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of debates surrounding portraiture and related research areas in current study of art history and philosophy of art;
2 use the particular conceptual tools and methods necessary for independent art historical and philosophical engagement in these areas;
3 demonstrate their ability to develop argument, engage critically with relevant literature, and contextualise issues and materials within the framework of contemporary art historical and art theoretical thought.

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

1 Demonstrate their written and oral communication and presentation skills particularly regarding the expression of complex thoughts
2 Demonstrate their capacity to listen attentively and critically to the views of others, whether spoken or written, and to make a relevant response that furthers the investigation;
3 Demonstrate their ability to conduct research and independent study into theoretical and historical materials;
4 Demonstrate their capacity to construct and evaluate arguments.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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