History and Philosophy of Art - MA

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Overview

This MA, taught at Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture, provides a structured introduction to the postgraduate study of the history and philosophy of art. It is the only History and Philosophy of Art MA offered by a British university in Paris and taught in English.

The programme is intended for graduates in art history, philosophy and related subjects, such as fine art. It gives you the opportunity to pursue your interest in visual art at advanced level and within an interdisciplinary context, to develop a high level of expertise in topics in history and philosophy of art and to prepare for doctoral research in history of art or philosophy of art. 

You spend the entire year at Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture where you study at the Columbia Global Center (known as Reid Hall), which is located in a historic corner of Montparnasse in the heart of Paris. This allows you to participate in excursions to prominent cultural locations and make use of research resources that are only available in Paris. You have the unique opportunity to study the arts at postgraduate level within the context of a city that has been at the very centre of many crucial artistic and art theoretical developments in the past few centuries.

Studying at the Paris School of Arts and Culture

The Paris School of Arts and Culture is a specialist, postgraduate centre located in the heart of Paris. We offer interdisciplinary, flexible programmes, taught in English, which take full advantage of all the cultural resources Paris offers. Study trips to the city’s museums, art exhibitions, archives, cinemas and architectural riches are an integral part of your studies.

The interdisciplinary nature of the School means you can choose modules from outside your subject area, broadening your view of your subject. As part of our international community of students and staff, you can take part in regular seminars and talks, write for the student-run literary magazine or help to organise our annual student conference.

Students interested in taking this MA as a part-time option would take two modules each year (one per term), plus the dissertation in the final year. The programme can also be studied in Canterbury only or with the year shared between Canterbury and Paris.

About the Department of History & Philosophy of Art

The History of Art Department within the School of Arts provides opportunities for graduate study with well-established researchers in the fields of art history, philosophy of art and aesthetics. Staff research covers contemporary art and aesthetics, modernism, the history and philosophy of portraiture, the historiography of art and the Cold War, biographical monographs, the photograph (in its historical, contemporary and critical contexts), and the historical interplay of image, theory and institutions from the Renaissance to the present (especially European and North American).

Studying art as a postgraduate at the University of Kent in Paris will give you the opportunity to experience our rich resources of academic expertise and participate in the activities of the multidisciplinary Aesthetics Research Centre and the Art History and Visual Cultures Research Centre. Our research and teaching will engage you in a dialogue with aesthetic, conceptual and historical perspectives.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or better, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Your application should include a sample of your academic writing. Ideally this will be an essay, on a similar or related topic, that you have recently written as part of your undergraduate degree programme. Please upload this to your application portal.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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A group of postgraduates sit outside the Kennedy Building on the Canterbury campus

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

You take the compulsory modules and then choose from a list of optional modules. In order to allow you to explore other subject areas that interest you, you have the option to take one of the modules from other programmes that are on offer at the Paris campus.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module will introduce you to key concepts that are central to understand fundamental debates in history and philosophy of art as well as art criticism. Some examples of key concepts are the notion of originality, influence, race, the aesthetic, fiction, beauty, gender and taste. The key concepts discussed in the seminars are subject to change.

Find out more about HA838

The module will focus on Paris as a centre of artistic experimentation. The city served as the launch pad for key artistic movements from the mid-19th century through to the period after the Second World War (Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, etc.), and as a magnet for budding and established artists from all around the world. The module will take advantage of the great museum collections that encapsulate such developments (Musées d'Arte Moderne and d’Orsay, Rodin and Picasso Museums, Beaubourg, Quai Branly, etc.) and also of the major exhibitions on show in Paris in any given year.

Find out more about HA841

Optional modules may include

The module will focus on Paris as a centre of artistic experimentation. The city served as the launch pad for key artistic movements from the mid-19th century through to the period after the Second World War (Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, etc.), and as a magnet for budding and established artists from all around the world. The module will take advantage of the great museum collections that encapsulate such developments (Musées d'Arte Moderne and d’Orsay, Rodin and Picasso Museums, Beaubourg, Quai Branly, etc.) and also of the major exhibitions on show in Paris in any given year.

Find out more about HA841

This module will introduce you to key concepts that are central to understand fundamental debates in history and philosophy of art as well as art criticism. Some examples of key concepts are the notion of originality, influence, race, the aesthetic, fiction, beauty, gender and taste. The key concepts discussed in the seminars are subject to change.

Find out more about HA838

Our cultural heritage is defined by the legacy of manuscript artefacts. Those books and documents carry with them multiple pieces of information — more so than any printed book — that help decipher not just the meaning of their texts but also of their purpose and history. This module introduces you to the long history of that culture and, in particular, will give you the technical tools to make use of these sources. You will learn to read a variety of scripts and to appreciate the cultural contexts in which they were used (Latin palaeography, so called because the scripts — whatever the language — derive from the practices of ancient Rome); you will also study the book as object, understanding the elements of its make-up and what they can tell us about the society in which it was made and used (codicology).

Find out more about MT888

This module builds on the previous term's design exercise by focussing on a city-centre urban design problem project, exploring larger-scale issues of site and context, planning and place making. Students become familiar with relevant urban design theories and concepts, and learn to work as part of a team in developing design strategies and making detailed planning proposals. Precedent studies play an important role in shaping strategic and tactical development. Communication skills are enhanced by a range of drawing and modelling exercises, and by project presentations. The urban thinking moves from the local (where a strategic project is based in an urban ensemble, perhaps in Kent) to the global, where a dense slice of for example London or Paris is identified as the locus of design thinking and activity.

Find out more about AR847

This module explores the idea of the city, and the major concepts related to urban life. It analyses and determines the conditions of their emergence within a broader cultural context. It traces how these concepts have changed through time, with the aim of enhancing our present understanding of cities and their regeneration. It follows the development of city planning and the establishment of planned, ideal cities as a political goal up to the foundation of new towns. In its dealing with historically modern cities, the module centres on case studies of cities representative of urbanism from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, drawing lessons from the methods and types of documentation used in its development. The course also introduces the manner in which architecture has generated a number of spontaneous and critical responses to the demands of the city in the past four decades. The arguments are drawn from sources in architectural and urban theory, philosophy, art history, anthropology, literary sources and social sciences.

Find out more about AR848

This module explores the range of interrelations and negotiations that take place between verbal and visual culture, in literature, art, film, philosophy and, psychogeography. It will cover a diverse range of thinkers and approaches such as; Foucault, Merleau-Ponty, Bersani, Derrida, Debord, and Marx. The module is intended to be interdisciplinary and it will include some Paris-based visits, activities and screenings as a necessary means of working across themes, theories and ideas. It will consider some or all of the following themes, such as: the politics of space, ekphrasis and the other, phenomenological wonder, the legacy of Marx, and Marxist and formalist perspectives on modernism and the visual arts.

Find out more about EN867

On this module students will develop their skills as an independent writer, critic and thinker, understanding and building their own unique writing practice through readings of exemplary texts, open seminar discussion, writing exercises and creative workshops. Students will learn to identify and apply central concepts like plot, narrative, form and structure, theme, voice and character, in both reading and writing practice, Experimentation, ingenuity, ambition and originality in the student's approach to her/his own writing will be encouraged. Workshops will develop close reading and editorial skills and invite students to offer and receive constructive criticism of their peers’ work.

Find out more about EN891

In this module you will learn further techniques of writing fiction, including how to plot a full-length novel, work on deep characterisation and the construction of an intellectual framework within your fiction. You may be continuing to work on a project begun in Fiction 1, or starting something new. Rather than expecting you to try new techniques, voices and styles, your tutor will work with you to identify your strongest mode of writing and will encourage you to develop this.

Find out more about EN893

The main focus of Poetry 2 is to further develop and refine your writing with the eventual aim of producing a successful dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. Poetry 2 differs from Poetry 1 in that you are encouraged to develop a sequence or series of wholly new poems.

In this module you will develop your practice of writing poetry through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and constructive feedback on your own work. Each week, you will be exposed to a wide range of exemplary, contemporary sequences. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical rather than historical; at every point priority is given to your own particular development as poets.

The reading list does not represent a curriculum as such, but indicates the range of works and traditions we will draw upon to stimulate new thought about your own work. Decisions about reading will be taken in response to individual interests. Likewise, you will be directed toward work which will be of particular benefit to you.

Find out more about EN894

‘Paris: The Residency’ contributes to the poetry and prose strands of the MA in Creative Writing and the Literature strand of the Paris Programmes. The objective of ‘Paris: The Residency’ is to give students as close an experience as possible of what it might be like to be a writer in residence or retreat, and to produce work inspired by a specific location for a specific period of time. The emphasis will be on producing a body of creative work for the main assessment. This module aims to enable students to develop their practice of writing through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and practices, and constructive feedback on their own work. Throughout their stay, students will be exposed to a wide range of instances of exemplary, contemporary work relating to Paris, or which was written by writers whilst staying, or living in Paris (as suggested by the indicative reading list). They will be encouraged to read as independent writers, to apply appropriate writing techniques to their own practice and to experiment with voice, form and content. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical as well as historical. At every point in the module, priority will be given to students’ own development as writers. It is an assumption of the module that students will already have a basic competence in the writing of poetry or prose, including a grasp of essential craft and techniques. The purpose of this module will be to stimulate students towards further development of, and to hone their already emerging voices and styles through engaging with various literary texts, raising an awareness of place as the starting point for new writing, and how their work can develop with large chunks of time for independent study, reflection and exploration of a city like Paris.

Find out more about EN899

'Modernism and Paris' provides students with an opportunity to study a selection of texts from the UK, USA and mainland Europe, all readily available in English and specifically relevant to both Paris and modernism. The texts are all either inspired by, set in, or refer significantly to Paris and most were written in the city. They seek new and experimental literary expressions for the experience of modern city life and demonstrate a range of literary forms, including the novel, poetry, manifestos, essays and biography. In exploring the cultural contexts as well as avant-garde politics and aesthetics of modernism, the module presents texts by major authors of different nationalities, chronologically ordered, allowing students to appreciate the beginnings and development of modernism from the late 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century. It recognises the importance of modernist cross-fertilisation between literature and the visual arts and encourages students to explore links between modernist literature and the development of, for example, cubism and surrealism. The primary materials are Paris-focused but are chosen to open an international perspective on literary culture and history.

Find out more about EN904

The module is conceived as open to all Humanities MA students in Paris. It examines the medium of film, considering its specific qualities as an art and industrial form and the particular ways in which it is influenced by and influences other artistic and cultural forms in turn of the 20th century Paris. The emphasis of the course varies from year to year, responding to current research and scholarship, but it maintains as its focus the aesthetic strategies of film in contrast with other arts, technological developments, and historical change, particularly as they are developed in the growth of Paris as a city. The course also addresses the strategies used by the cinema to communicate with its historical audience. The course explores both the historical place of the cinema within the development of twentieth-century urban culture in Paris as well as how this historical definition informs the development of the cinema.

Find out more about FI821

Compulsory modules currently include

The dissertation module gives students the opportunity to write a dissertation of around 12,000-15,000 words on a topic of their choosing relating to history of art or philosophy of art and aesthetics. The process of developing a topic and writing the dissertation is closely supported through classes during term 3, and individual meetings with the student's dissertation supervisor. Supervision is usually by staff with direct research expertise in the student’s chosen topic.

Find out more about HA898

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by coursework only.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with a focused programme of taught postgraduate study in history and philosophy of art
  • provide you with a taught foundation for subsequent postgraduate research
  • enable you to acquire or deepen your knowledge and understanding of the historical and contemporary topics within the history of art and philosophy of art
  • enable you to develop your art historical and philosophical skills beyond that expected of an undergraduate
  • enable you to develop, articulate and defend art historical and philosophical ideas as they relate to art
  • enable you to engage with historical and contemporary theoretical thought about the arts from art historical and philosophical perspectives.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • aspects of the historical development of art, movements, styles and genres, especially from the Renaissance to the present day
  • the works of a range of significant artists of different periods and cultures
  • a range of different visual art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation and video
  • the cultural, social and historical contexts in which artworks are produced, used and understood
  • art historical methods and theories used to study art
  • substantive areas of current research in art history
  • the impact of philosophies of art and aesthetics on the visual arts
  • aspects of the history of aesthetics and the philosophy of art in the western tradition
  • aspects of contemporary aesthetic theory and issues in the philosophy of art
  • various positions taken on key issues in contemporary aesthetics and philosophy of art
  • the range of philosophical issues arising in relation to a particular medium of fine art
  • primary and secondary philosophical writings on art and aesthetics relevant to contemporary philosophy of art.

Intellectual skills

You develop the following intellectual skills:

  • a high degree of independent thinking, particularly in relation to the ideas, issues and debates within art history and the philosophy of art
  • advanced research skills relevant to the preparation of essays, dissertations and seminar assignments.
  • an advanced ability to evaluate a range of both primary and secondary sources and conceptual frameworks appropriate to research in the history and philosophy of art
  • a highly developed ability to synthesise diverse materials and ideas to further a specific art historical or art philosophical position
  • an ability to analyse and interpret texts and arguments in a manner that demonstrates advanced skills of critical evaluation
  • an ability to critically reflect at an advanced level upon both one’s own ideas and positions.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • advanced skills of observation, analysis and interpretation of visual artworks, drawing on your knowledge of visual traditions and conventions
  • the use of concepts and methods specific to the history and theory of art
  • the capacity to locate and evaluate evidence from relevant visual and textual sources, and interpret it in relation to art historical enquiries
  • the ability to construct highly effective arguments to defend or challenge a position held by yourself or others
  • the ability to critically engage at an advanced level with some major thinkers and intellectual traditions within art history and the philosophy of art
  • advanced skills of constructive debate and defence of ideas
  • a high degree of critical reflectiveness upon assumptions and beliefs
  • advanced skills of oral presentation and defence of ideas and positions.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability, at an advanced level, to organise information clearly, respond to written sources, present information orally, use images as a communication tool, present arguments cogently and effectively in written or spoken form
  • the ability, at an advanced level, to identify and access relevant materials and synthesise them into a broader piece of work
  • the ability to produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email and process information using databases
  • the ability to listen effectively and so to learn from and participate constructively in discussion
  • the ability to organise and manage supervised, self-directed work
  • the ability to work in flexible and independently minded ways, showing self-discipline and self-direction
  • problem-solving: the ability to identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
  • focus and attentiveness to detail: the ability to work diligently, to fulfil briefs and deadlines, and to take responsibility for your own work.
  • the ability to gather, organise and deploy ideas in order to formulate arguments cogently and express them effectively orally and in written form.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time €11150
  • International full-time €18750

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Arts at Kent was ranked 1st for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research quality.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research areas

Research areas

The Department has a collective interest in developing interdisciplinary projects, including projects informed by art history, curation and the philosophy of art or aesthetics. Shared areas of research interest include: photography, art theory from the Renaissance onwards; modernism and contemporary art.

Aesthetics Research Centre

The Aesthetics Research Centre coordinates, enables and promotes research in philosophy of art and aesthetics at the University of Kent. Its focus is on the dynamic and growing field of philosophy of art and aesthetics in the analytic tradition, and it is deeply committed to making connections and exploring synergies between that tradition and other approaches to thinking about art and culture, including those from other philosophical traditions, the humanities more broadly, the sciences, and all forms of art making and cultural production. ARC comprises a vibrant community of staff and postgraduate students across the School of Arts and Philosophy, and its activities include an annual programme of research seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences. 

Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Group

The Histories Research Group promotes and co-ordinates research amongst the growing community of staff and PG students active at Kent in the field of Visual and Cultural Histories. The Histories research culture brings together staff and post-graduate students from across the School of Arts whose research involves a cultural historical approach to their field. Whether it is in theatre, film or art history, the Histories group promotes and enables cultural historical research by holding a regular research seminar and supporting student-led initiatives, such as organizing conferences. For the range of world-leading research carried out by members of the Histories research group - from Raphael to Doris Day.

 

Other Research Centres within the School:

Performance and Theatre Research Group

The Performance and Theatre Research Group’s mission is to create a warm and dynamic research community, welcoming everybody from fresher to professor. We are a delightfully broad church, with well-established expertise in a very broad range of subjects, including theatre history, performance and health, theatre and cognition, physical acting, applied theatre, performance and philosophy, performance and politics, European theatre, Greek theatre, Modernist theatre (especially the Bauhaus), theatre and adaptation, audience studies, cultural industries, variety theatre, puppetry, dance theatre, popular performance and stand-up comedy. As well as traditional academic research, we have led the field in creative practice-based research – and continue to do so.

Film, Media and Culture Research Group

The Group’s main objective is to support and produce cutting-edge research in the areas of film, media and culture. A broad and welcoming church for the manifold approaches to our subject, we specialise in research that is collaborative, of high impact, international and interdisciplinary in scope. We recognise film, media and cultural activity is best understood comprehensively in terms of aesthetic shapes, social roles, discursive formations, cultural meanings, psychological effects and/or economic realities, and best explained through attention to both institutional imperatives and individual agencies. Drawing together scholars from across the University – including Arts, European Culture and Languages, Digital Arts and Engineering, History, English and American Studies, Law, Sociology and beyond – the Group furnishes a lively, member-led research culture that serves as a forum for Kent-based researchers and as a beacon for the international community. Through our journal Film Studies and pioneering research projects and outputs we actively seek to shape the field, open lines of communication with the local community and engage with colleagues worldwide.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Jonathan Friday : Senior Lecturer

Aesthetic theory and photographic studies; 18th-century British aesthetic theory; classical and contemporary photographic theory; photographic genre.

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Professor Martin Hammer : Professor

British art in the mid 20th-century (artists such as Naum Gabo, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland, Stanley Spencer); modern and contemporary international art; the modern portrait. 

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Professor Tom Henry : Professor

Specialist in Italian renaissance art, with a particular interest in Central Italian painters including Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Pietro Perugino and Luca Signorelli.

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Dr Hans Maes : Senior Lecturer

Philosophy of art and aesthetics including the role of intention in the interpretation of art; the relation between (erotic) art and pornography; the role of beauty in art and culture; the nature and value of aesthetic experience.

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Dr Michael Newall : Senior Lecturer; Director, MA Programme

Philosophy of painting; depiction; theories of the sublime; art school education; contemporary art.

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Dr Grant Pooke : Senior Lecturer; Head of Subject and Research

Contemporary British art; Marxist art historiography, the Cold War and aesthetics; developing teaching approaches to art history; art histories, boundaries and aspects of the postcolonial.

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Dr Ben Thomas : Reader; Head of Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Cluster

Renaissance art; Renaissance art theory; Renaissance and baroque prints; the history of collecting and museums; historiography of art, particularly the work of Edgar Wind and the Cold War.

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Careers

Arts postgraduates have gone on to work in a range of professions, from museum positions and teaching roles to marketing and gallery assistants. Our graduates have found work with Tate Britain, the V&A, Museum of Childhood and other arts, culture and heritage-related organisations.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

In Paris you are encouraged to make full use of the city’s cultural resources and to integrate that experience into your studies. The Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay, Musée d’Arte Moderne, Grand Palais and other world-class museums and exhibition spaces are on your doorstep. You have access to screenings of modern and classic films and to the research facilities at the National Cinémathèque and Museum of Cinema and at the Forum des Images. You also have access to the libraries of University of Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle) and University of Paris VII. Other Paris libraries with extensive relevant holdings include the French National Library, the Centre Georges Pompidou Public Library and the American Library in Paris, to which you are given access and a guided visit.

Support

All postgraduate students are offered research skills training and the opportunity to take part in reading groups and research seminars. 

In recent years, several members of the History of Art Department, both full-time and part-time, have been awarded University prizes for excellence in student support, curriculum innovation and research-based teaching – an ethos which we seek to extend to the postgraduate community.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: British Journal of Aesthetics; Art History; History of Photography; Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; Journal of Visual Arts Practice; and The Philosophical Quarterly.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

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Admissions enquiries

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