Do you want to understand the world from a political, cultural, historical and economic perspective? Study Liberal Arts at Kent to examine how different disciplines interact, explore the forces and events shaping contemporary society, and learn a new language or improve your language skills.
Liberal Arts is a truly interdisciplinary degree. It develops your understanding of humanities subjects such as culture, history and politics, while enabling you to discuss key scientific controversies. This broad knowledge helps you to succeed professionally in the 21st century.
While the programme is run by the School of Politics and International Relations, you are taught by academics from across all three faculties at Kent. You receive high-quality teaching informed by cutting-edge research on a range of political, social, economic and cultural issues.
Our degree programme
At the heart of our Liberal Arts degree is a core set of modules that enable you to analyse and understand how and why we think, and act, the way we do. Through collective discussion and debate around seminal readings, you get a grasp of the full field of social sciences, physical sciences, arts and humanities.
In the first year and second years, you take a combination of compulsory modules and optional modules to suit your interests and career plans. Study a broad range of subjects such as contemporary culture and society, modes of reasoning, and how technology and the economy shapes human cultures.
Your final year of study includes a dissertation module, where you focus on a topic related to your year abroad or on a research question of your choosing. You also take a compulsory module that develops your critical thinking skills and choose four optional modules, with approval from your tutor, from across the University.
Liberal Arts student Judith talks about her course at Kent.
You have the option take this as a 4 year course with an additional year spent studying abroad. See Liberal Arts with a Year Abroad.
Facilities and resources to support the study of Liberal Arts include:
- access to the European Documentation Centre
- a dedicated Student Support Manager, who advises on issues related to academic study as well as wider University life
- a Study Skills Officer, who provides subject-related guidance
- the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme, where first-year students are matched with second- or third-year students on a similar programme.
At Kent, there are many student societies related to your studies, for example:
- Current Affairs and Politics Society
- Kent European Debates Society
- Debating Society
- Kent Model United Nations Society.
You are also encouraged to get involved in the programme of events and activities run by the School of Politics and International Relations, which focuses on bridging the gap between academic study and real-life politics.
Our Public Speaker Programme features prominent academics and practitioners, who are invited to speak on current issues. You can also attend the Open Forum, a weekly debating group where staff and students discuss the hot topic of the week.
The BA in Liberal Arts sits within the School of Politics and International Relations.
In The Guardian University Guide 2019, over 91% of final-year Politics students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.
In the National Student Survey 2018, over 91% of final-year Politics students who completed the survey, were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.
Of Politics students who graduated in 2017 and completed a national survey, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).
Teaching Excellence Framework
All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
The BA in Liberal Arts is composed of compulsory and optional modules. Your optional modules can be chosen from a wide range of subjects across the University in consultation with the Programme Director. This may include subjects offered by Anthropology, Classic and Ancient History, Comparative Literature, Criminology, Film studies, History, Philosophy, Politics or Sociology. Please get in touch with the School of Politics and International Relations to discuss the modules in more detail.
The modules below 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.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
SE310 - Modes of Reasoning
One of the impediments to communication between different academic disciplines is their use of different ways of making, and validating, arguments and proofs. A key element of the programme in Liberal Arts is to develop a genuine inter-disciplinary approach so that students can understand, appreciate and assimilate the findings from diverse academic approaches. This module examines the varying modes of developing scientific, social scientific and humanities discourses to facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning. Following an introduction to Modes of Thought, engaging students with concepts of rationality as elaborated in logic and analytical reasoning, it will familiarise students in lectures and readings with quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as with associated processes of data presentation, validation and conclusion reaching. Seminars will serve both to discuss and assess approaches and to familiarise students with working with techniques of data analysis and representation (quantitatively through statistical methods and software packages such as Excel and SPSS and qualitatively through sessions engaging grounded theory, narratology, actor network theory and image studies). Insofar as an element at the core of reasoning is representation per se, the issue of cognition and its unconscious shaping by both social and psychological forces will be addressed.
Themes introduced here not only intertwine with teaching and practical exercises in the two concurrent first year core modules (for instance the training in research design, statistical methods, and data analysis carried out here will be drawn upon in Understanding the Contemporaries' study of social and historical changes in local communities) but also recur throughout the rest of the programme. The cross-disciplinary debates – and communications – opened in this module will be revisited, and nuanced, over the following three years.
The module Modes of Reasoning is rich in transferable skills training, helping students to develop numeric and analytical skills, engaging them in the formulation and design of research questions and hypotheses, and familiarising them with select software packages.
Complimentary modules - Roots of Transformation (Autumn) and Understanding the Contemporary (Spring)View full module details
SE311 - Understanding the Contemporary
'Understanding the Contemporary' will enable students to think critically about their own period, and analyse the forces and events shaping contemporary culture and society. Students will consider texts from a range of disciplines and will be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. They will furthermore apply insights drawn from their readings and discussions to practical analysis of contemporary situations, not only through developing awareness of current events but also through designing and carrying out field analysis of social and historical changes in local communities (linked both to the research plan designed in Modes of Reasoning and to SSPSSR's quantitative teaching methods programme). The focus of the module will be on the period since 2000, though clearly it will be necessary to reach back before that date to contextualise current issues. Students will be required to think critically about the ways different disciplines are formulating representations of the contemporary period, and to discuss themes and ideas that cross disciplines. Week by week, seminars and lectures will address topics that define the present period, for instance, migration, environmental change, financial crisis, democratic agency, and new media. The module will consider how different disciplines and intellectual traditions are responding to and framing such issues and developments so developing skills of comparative and cross-disciplinary reading. It is in the nature of the module that its study topics will vary from year to year. Overall, the module will develop multi-disciplinary understandings of the contemporary world and will encourage students to consider their role in shaping it.
Complimentary modules: Modes of Reasoning (Autumn and Spring), Roots of Transformation (Autumn)View full module details
SE312 - Roots of Transformation
The module will prepare students to think critically about the forces shaping ways of being in the contemporary world, with attention to how 'the modern' has emerged from innovations and continuities in modes of production, reproduction and communication in the past two centuries.
This module examines the technological and economic revolutions that shape human cultures, with a particular focus from the 17th century to the early 20th century roots of modernity and the impacts of recent and developing technological innovations. Students will be introduced to basic issues in scientific and technological developments impacting upon the contemporary world and will, building on their understanding of these, investigate their ramifications in social practices and ideations, in philosophical discourse and in the fields of aesthetic and literary production.
Students will be required to think critically about the ways different disciplines respond to and are shaped by technological and social developments, and will be encouraged to engage these from a cross-disciplinary perspective.
Overall, the module will develop multi-disciplinary understandings of the history of the contemporary world and will encourage students to become aware of, and to understand, the 'unseen' influences which enable and constrain our ways of being so as to both work with them and, where appropriate, seek to shape them.
Complimentary modules: Modes of Reasoning (Autumn and Spring), Understanding the Contemporary (Spring)View full module details
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
SE606 - Connections
Connections is an innovative module that aims to provide a 'diagnosis of the present' informed by an interdisciplinary variety of approaches such as historical narratives, life writings (auto-biography), literature, photography and data analysis. A key question to be discussed is: what are the themes and issues that define our contemporary era, and how are they connected and impact on each other? In previous years, the module explored issues of class, peace(-keeping) and violence, borders and imagination, exile, media and democracy, and others. The module further aims to make connections with current events as they are unfolding, and depending on circumstances may include sessions on topics of particular relevance at the time that the module is being taught.View full module details
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
PO679 - Research Dissertation
PO679 allows students to do independent, original research under supervision on a political science or liberal arts topic close to their specialist interests. The dissertation module gives them the opportunity to further these interests and acquire a wide range of study and research skills in the process. All dissertation topics have to be approved by the module convenor as well as by an academic supervisor. The module takes students through the entire process of writing a dissertation (8,000 words long): from the original 'problem' to a suitable research 'question', to choosing a method, to designing the research, to conducting the research; from taking notes to drafting the dissertation, to revising and writing the dissertation, and finally to submitting the dissertation. Lectures, supervision and a conference help students along the way. The curriculum includes structured opportunities for students to discuss their research ideas with each other as well as mock panel presentations in preparation for the student conference.
PLEASE NOTE: PO679 is worth 45 credits. If you wish to take PO679, please keep this in mind when choosing your other modules. PO679 is worth 15 credits in autumn term, and 30 in spring. The module is weighted more to the Spring term to enable you to dedicate the time needed to produce your dissertation.
As you can chose the equivalent of 4 x 15 credits in the autumn and 4 x 15 in the Spring, picking PO679 would look like this:
XXView full module details
PO681 - Landscapes of the Future
This module prepares students both to think about the ways in which the landscapes are evolving and being shaped by contemporary developments in technical, scientific, and theoretical fields; and to think about how they want to take part in these developments in their own lives, through professional activity or further study. It will prepare students to think critically about the opportunities and dangers that come with the future, notably through the changes taking place in production techniques (through three-dimensional printing), ecological change and planning, scientific advancements and their impact on the humanities and social sciences (such as quantum theory's challenge to historical studies). By building on bodies of work that have already discussed the potential impact of new technologies and scientific innovations on our understanding of the human, this module will demand intellectual reflection on the potential for change and transformation, with reference to past events and how transformation has occurred to this day. In additional, the module will provide practical guidance on how to think about the student’s own future, whether professionally or for further studies. It will guide students through the possibilities open to them, and give them practical skills to secure an interview and present themselves successfully.View full module details
Teaching and assessment
Modules are taught by a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. You usually have 10 to 12 hours of contact time with staff each week.
Compulsory Liberal Arts modules are assessed by 100% coursework (essays, projects, dissertation), but optional modules may be assessed by a combination of examination and coursework, usually in the ratio of 50:50, 60:40 or 80:20.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
The programme aims to:
- provide a cross-disciplinary, research-led, inspiring learning environment
- offer a pioneering educational opportunity within the UK context through which you progress into high-level careers and related postgraduate opportunities
- develop the following range of aptitudes and skills: communication, language, reasoning, numeracy, information literacy and research methods
- engage you in a range of disciplines to be able to pursue careers in a range of complex organisational settings
- promote an understanding of the relations between disciplines and an appreciation of the ways in which cross-disciplinary thinking leads to alternative and approaches to contemporary global challenges.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the principles and application of underlying modes of inquiry within different academic disciplines and contexts
- cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning
- the relation between technological and economic development and cultural change in historical context
- the forces and events shaping contemporary thought and behaviour across a range of practices and disciplines
- the various ways in which different disciplines and practices – across the arts, the social sciences, history and politics – conceptualise the contemporary
- how to communicate seminal ideas across the fields of the social sciences, sciences, arts and humanities
- how multi-disciplinary approaches and inter-disciplinary thinking can address future cultural and political challenges, such as environmental crises, the state and meaning of democracy and the potentialities of scientific development
- how the study of given historical contexts can inform contemporary policy and practice
- a selected topic within a given discipline and application of appropriate research methods.
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- research skills: how to formulate research questions and hypotheses to address problems across a range of disciplines
- analytical skills: interpretation of arguments, evidence and data; marshalling information from published sources; critical evaluation of your own research and that of others
- how to use appropriate IT skills to retrieve, analyse and present information
- numerical evaluation: the use of appropriate analytical methods in handling statistical evidence and data.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- reasoning: how to construct arguments within different intellectual contexts and disciplines, and how to formulate and address research questions and problems
- communication: how to communicate across disciplines, how to mediate key ideas between disciplines, and how to speak and write persuasively in discursive contexts
- language: the functional use of a second language equal to the demands of professional communication
- presentation of research: how to write essays and a dissertation in an appropriate style in keeping with the conventions of different subject areas
- numeracy: how to handle and interpret numerical evidence in differing intellectual contexts
- careers: recognition of career opportunities available to Liberal Arts graduates.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- communication: the ability to organise information clearly, present information orally and in writing, and adapt presentations for different audiences
- reflection: make use of constructive informal feedback from staff and peers, and assess your own progress to enhance your performance and personal skills
- self-motivation and independence: time and workload management to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines
- team work: the ability to work independently and as part of a research group using peer support, diplomacy and collective responsibility.
Graduates from the School have gone on to work in fields including:
- the civil service
- European and international organisations
- the media
Help finding a job
The School of Politics and International Relations runs an Employability Programme, focused on providing you with the skills you need when looking for a job. You can book one-to-one sessions for help with employability, skills development and advice on job applications.
You also have access to a weekly Employability Newsletter, featuring jobs for graduates, as well as internship and volunteering opportunities.
The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:
- apply for jobs
- write a good CV
- perform well in interviews.
To help you appeal to employers, you also learn key transferable skills that are essential for all graduates. These include the ability to:
- think critically
- communicate your ideas and opinions
- manage your time effectively
- work independently or as part of a team.
You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
|Qualification||Typical offer/minimum requirement|
|Access to HE Diploma||
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If an offer is made, candidates will be required to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma achieving 60 credits in total, with 45 credits at level three including 30 at distinction and 15 at merit. Access candidates may also be invited to attend an interview and provide an additional academic reference/written work in support of their application.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)||
Distinction, Distinction, Merit in a non-arts based subject.
34 points overall or 15 points at HL, including Mathematics 4 at HL or SL (Mathematics Studies 5 at SL)
The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
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 Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
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. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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.*
Your fee status
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.
There are no compulsory additional costs associated with this course. All textbooks are available from the library, although some students prefer to purchase their own.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.