Art History

History and Philosophy of Art - MA

2017

This MA provides a structured introduction to the postgraduate study of the history and philosophy of art.

2017

Overview

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.

The programme is intended for graduates in art history, philosophy and cognate subjects, such as fine art. It gives you the opportunity to 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.

The programme can also be studied in Paris only or with the year shared between Canterbury and Paris.

Think Kent video series

Dr Grant Pooke, Senior Lecturer in History of Art, discusses the work and legacy of Brij Mohan Anand. A trenchant critic of both British Imperium and Indian militarism, BM Anand fashioned an exceptional range of work, from scratchboards, sketches, genre scenes, pastoral images and starkly modernist figure compositions to a series of late, apocalyptic landscapes.

About the Department of History & Philosophy of Art

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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

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.

Possible modules may include Credits ECTS Credits

This module will introduce you to key concepts and classic texts 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 representation, intention, style, influence, the aesthetic, fiction, beauty, etc.; and some examples of texts are Wollheim's Painting as Art, Schapiro's The Apples of Cezanne, Baxandall's Patterns of Intention, Walton's Categories of Art, Barthes' Camera Lucida, Danto's After the End of Art. The module will be team-taught by historians and philosophers of art, the texts and/or key concepts discussed in the seminars are subject to change.

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'Reading the Contemporary' is a cross-disciplinary module the aim of which is to find out what it means to read the contemporary period through its aesthetic practices. The module will be co-taught by staff from the School of English, the School of Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with seminars alternating between the Canterbury campus and the ICA (London).

The module has three main objectives. First, it will consider what it means, in a theoretical sense, to think about our contemporary moment. Second, it will address key themes and issues in contemporary culture and will consider how they bear on and are shaped by recent aesthetic forms. Third, through the seminars delivered at the ICA, which will arise directly out of the ICA's programme, students will be introduced to examples of current aesthetic practice.

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This course examines the medium of film, considering its specific qualities as an art form and the particular ways in which it engages its audience. 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, film's relationship with reality, the interdisciplinary reach of Film Studies, the particular kinds of engagement into which cinema invites its audience and/or French film theory. Students studying at the Paris campus will benefit from having access to relevant institutions in Paris, such as the Cinémathèque Française, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the American Library in Paris and the Paris Diderot library. The course explores both the historical trajectory of the theory of film as well as how these conceptual frameworks inform contemporary scholarship.

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This module examines a selection of pre-eminent texts in modern French art theory and philosophy. It invites students to analyse and to chart intersections and developments in French writing on the image across shifting critical landscapes, including those marked by phenomenology, structuralism and post-structuralism. Students will be encouraged to explore French theories of art with due attention to historical precedents, and to reflect on the aesthetic, political and technological significance of the visual arts for a wide range of French thinkers.

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The construct of the post-conceptual in relation to visual arts practice has two principal inflexions. Firstly, it delineates a generation of contributors typically born in the 1960s and 1970s for whom the legacies of Modernism and conceptual art are cultural givens. Secondly, it situates a range of practice (including media art and digital platforms) in relation to expanded and evolving contexts of criticism, cultural consumption and curation.

The proposed curriculum will follow recent visual arts-based critical responses to the development of particular genres and associated shifts in cultural production. For example, this will include the attention given to emerging practices of self and group curation and the rationale for the doubling or multiplying of artistic agency variously demonstrated by collectives such as SUPERFLEX, Claire Fontaine and by a range of contemporary working partnerships.

The module will explore how several recent critics have mobilised and applied ideas of the ‘political’ to account for distinctive thematics within recent practice. Considering some of the recent distinctions noted by the art critic Claire Bishop, the module will evaluate different forms of sculpture and installation practice (immersive, site responsive, site independent and site specific) and how these mediate changing contexts and conditions of production and spectatorship.

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This module will introduce you 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.

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This module will give you an advanced understanding of a range of philosophical issues and concepts underpinning foundational concepts in high art, and broader visual culture. It seeks to apply a broadly analytic approach in philosophy to a range of subjects in high art and popular culture, often taken to be on the periphery of analytic philosophy of art. Topics of study will include: portraiture and its different sub genres, concepts of genius and creativity from the eighteenth century to the present day, philosophical issues around teaching art, the aesthetics of cultural forms such as automotive design, and the place and nature of kitsch and cuteness in low and high culture.

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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.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by coursework and the dissertation.

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 intellectual skills in:

  • 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, adapt style for different audiences, 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. 

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

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.

Support

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.

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.  

Entry requirements

A first or 2.1 honours degree 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, and professional qualifications and experience will 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 for your country. 

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English language entry requirements

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.

Research areas

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

Art History and Visual Cultures

This Research Centre promotes and co-ordinates research amongst the growing community of staff and PG students active at Kent in the field of Art History. 

Other Research Centres within the School:

Centre for Film and Media Research

The Centre draws together scholars from across the University who use film and the moving image as an integral part of their research. We are open to ideas that extend the reach of the Centre and seek to support projects that promote collaboration between individuals and other research centres. Our aim is to produce a more proactive engagement with other disciplines, to open new lines of communication and to produce innovative knowledge formations through the activity of pioneering research projects.

European Theatre

Based at Kent, the UK’s European university, the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN) facilitates and fosters the exchange of theatre traditions, contemporary practices and academic discussion on theatre work from the European continent and also in the new European states. The MA Theatre Direction forms part of this expanding network, drawing for instance on our connection to the Schaubühne Berlin, the Grotowski Workcentre, and other European theatre institutions. For further information, please see www.europeantheatre.org.uk

Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance

The Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance brings together Drama staff and staff in Engineering and Digital Arts; Psychology; Anthropology; and the Tizard Centre to explore the possibilities of interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between researchers and practitioners in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, interactive performance, digital media, disability studies, and applied performance. For further information, please see www.kent.ac.uk/ckp

Popular and Comic Performance

The Popular and Comic Performance (PCP) research centre brings together academics from a range of disciplines (e.g. Drama, Film, Social Anthropology, Philosophy). Their research investigates a real variety of related areas including: stand-up comedy; music hall and variety; 18th century popular theatre; melodrama; Greek Old and Middle comedy; community performance work; puppetry; TV and film production; and punk performance. For further information, please see www.kent.ac.uk/arts/research/centres/popularcomicperformance

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: Senior Lecturer; Curator, Studio 3 Gallery

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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Fees

The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

History and Philosophy of Art - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £14670
Part-time £3250 £7340

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.*

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.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Scholarships and funding information