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This MA provides a structured introduction to the postgraduate study of the history and philosophy of art.
Pursue your interest in visual art at advanced level, 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.
Particular focuses include contemporary art, photography, Renaissance art, medieval art, 18th-century British painting, 19th-century French painting, modernism, aesthetics and the philosophy of art and film. You may elect to take a Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics pathway, which draws on the expertise of our Aesthetics Research Group.
You study with well-established researchers in the fields of art history, philosophy of art and aesthetics.
The History & Philosophy 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, theories of art, 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).
Developing areas of interest include the cultural and historical significance of the print, and the role of performance and new media in contemporary art practices, which draw upon our links with other subjects within the School of Arts and the Faculty of Humanities. In particular, postgraduates have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the multidisciplinary Aesthetics Research Centre and the Art History and Visual Cultures Research Centre. There is also a full programme of visiting speakers from across the constituent subject areas within the School of Arts, which includes Film and Drama.
A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) in a relevant humanities subject. Applicants without these qualifications will be judged on the basis of a sample of written work, an interview and relevant experience.
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.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
The course trains students to communicate confidently and professionally about film form, style, and technique in a variety of spoken, written, and audio-visual formats (e.g. oral presentations, writing, video-essays and/or podcasts). Students will study the theoretical frameworks and specialised terminology which they need to produce accurate, coherent, and effective film analysis. Students will also learn to reflect critically on filmmaking from a variety of modes, genres, historical periods and national traditions (including, where applicable, their own filmmaking).
This module focuses on the skills of advanced research writing, providing the training needed to research, plan and communicate with confidence for an academic audience. The course will trace the process through which research is consolidated and prepared for the academic essay, highlighting the importance of structure, signposting and clarity of expression. The course will enable students to refine and develop the skills of constructing a sophisticated argument which engages critically with appropriate scholarship and is clearly articulating an intervention. The module is research-led, meaning the topic through which such skills are developed will be chosen by the course convenor to reflect her/his own research interests. The course will therefore also engage directly with current, innovative research and allow students to gain an understanding of the discipline's larger research community and activities.
This module introduces students to the art and cultures of Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba. Students will explore non-Western artistic traditions, practices and theoretical frameworks, and consider art's relation to society. The art works considered are drawn from various countries across Latin America and represent a wide range of visual art forms (with a focus on the art of the Twentieth Century) and assess both their formal analysis and their historical context. Attention will also be given to the Latin American diaspora and transatlantic exchanges. In the course of these investigations issues relating to imperialism, colonialism and post-colonial frameworks across theory and practice will be closely studied, as well as the challenges artists face in negotiating expressions of national identities and problematics versus the adoption of international styles; and the role of collections, exhibitions and art institutions within and beyond national borders.
This module will explore the major art movements of the Nineteenth Century such as Romanticism, Realism, Pre-Raphaelitism, Impressionism, the New Sculpture and Post-Impressionism. It will look in depth at the work of a number of key artists during this period (for example, these may include J. M. W. Turner, Eugène Delacroix, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, Paul Cezanne and Vincent van Gogh). While the focus will be on the visual arts in France and England, the module will situate these artistic trends within a broader historical context, exploring parallels with literary, scientific and philosophical developments. Social attitudes towards the arts will be examined in the light of the class, gender and racial issues that characterised an age of industrial growth, European colonialism and empire building. Seminars will be dedicated to analysing topics like Delacroix and Orientalism, the 'Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood', the representation of poverty, nature and landscape, the modern city and popular culture, the impact of photography, or Gauguin in Tahiti.
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.
This module explores the art and culture of the so-called 'Golden Age' of seventeenth-century Holland, and critically examines the appropriateness of this common way of naming the period. Different types of paintings such as portraits, genre painting and still-life will be studied, and their social functions critically evaluated. The life and work of renowned Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals, as well as a number of lesser known artists such as Judith Leyster, Jan Steen and Willem Claesz Heda, will be closely examined. Special attention is given to the society and context that produced this art including politics, religion, the art market, the position of women, global trading and the slave trade. Lectures and seminars discuss these themes through the use of visual and written resources. In addition, the seminars are devoted to practical applications of relevant art historical and academic skills (visual analysis, interpretation, evaluation, communication, critical thinking). This is reflected in the assessments that develop progressively to ensure learning outcomes.
This module will introduce students to the history and theory of curating through a series of detailed case studies from the early modern period to the present day. These will focus on how collections have been formed and maintained, the nature of key institutions in the art world like museums and galleries, and in particular it will examine the phenomenon of the exhibition. Different approaches to curating exhibitions will be examined, and the responsibilities of the curator towards artists, collections, and towards the public will be analysed. Broad themes in the theory of curating and museology will be examined. Wherever possible the case studies chosen will draw on the resources and expertise of partner organisations, such as Canterbury Museums and the Institute for Contemporary Art.
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.
This module explores the dynamic relationship between the cult of relics and Gothic art. It will begin by retracing the aesthetics of devotion across Western Christendom, culminating in the creation of towering Gothic cathedrals. Throughout history, the design of cult images could reveal sacred presence, testify to miracle-working powers, and explicate the significance of a holy place using visual narratives. Through pilgrimage, gift-giving, and even theft, people acquired relics and 'invented' new cults. The success of a relic cult would benefit from the design of a magnificent reliquary, the depiction of pictorial programmes (in glass, sculpture, and painting), and the placement of the relic within a spectacular architectural setting. Together we will explore the development of Gothic art in light of changing devotional needs. Using a number of diverse case studies, students will acquire a wealth of historical information and develop a variety of intellectual approaches to function and significance of visual culture. Beginning with Paris and its surrounding cathedrals, we will extend our analysis to Gothic Canterbury, London, Castile, Prague, Siena, and Florence. Above all, this course will encourage students to think critically about the influence of art in the religious imagination.
The teaching will focus on a number of inter-related themes which will be studied through differing types of evidence from written and printed texts to objects and standing buildings. Consequently, certain seminars will take place outside the seminar room, looking at the evidence in situ. Topics covered will include topography, civic governance, urban defence, house and household, commercial practices and premises, parish church development, the place of religious houses, pilgrimage and city-crown relations, as a way of examining issues such as space, power, patronage and responses to changing social, political and economic conditions. Students will be encouraged to think comparatively, both nationally and internationally, to assess Canterbury's place within medieval European society.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
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 terms 2 & 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.
Assessment is by coursework and the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
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In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies research was classified as ‘world-leading’ for impact and environment.
Following the REF 2021, Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies at Kent was ranked 9th in the UK in the Times Higher Education.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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.
There is a large and wide-ranging library holding for History & Philosophy of Art, covering the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, aesthetics and contemporary visual communications. There is a substantial stock of periodicals, online access to e-journals and a slide library with well over 100,000 images, covering areas such as contemporary art, visual cultures, garden history and the film still, as well as traditional media. Kent is ideally located for access to galleries in London and on the continent.
In 2010, we moved into the purpose-built, and RIBA award-winning, Jarman Building located at the centre of the Canterbury campus. The new building is home to the Studio 3 Gallery and a range of teaching and social spaces as well as a dedicated postgraduate centre.
All postgraduate students are offered research skills training and the opportunity to take part in reading groups and research seminars at departmental, school and faculty level. Research students have the added opportunity for funded conference attendance. There is also a dedicated student support office at our Canterbury campus, which can offer support and guidance throughout your studies, in addition to an office in Paris.
In recent years, several members of the History & Philosophy 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.
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.
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.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.