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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

PHL1009: Philosophies of Art

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.


NQF Level 4
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Tom Roberts (Convenor)



Available via distance learning


The arts – painting, sculpture, drama, poetry and music – have been central to philosophy ever since Plato and Aristotle. In this course, we will look at some of the main theories of art that have been put forward over the centuries, and examine some contemporary debates. We will see how philosophical theories of art have reflected and encouraged developments within the arts themselves, and explore some enduring philosophical problems from aesthetics, such as whether it is ever rational to feel emotionally involved with characters who we know to be fictional; whether offensive humour can ever be funny; whether a forgery can have the same aesthetic worth as an original; why we enjoy tragedy; and what it is for music to express our emotions. The module will offer you an in depth study of classic and contemporary thinking on central topics in the philosophy of art, and teach you to think critically about artworks while drawing upon your own tastes and experience.

There are no pre-requisites or co-requisites for this module, and the module is suitable for those with an interest in the philosophical and interdisciplinary study of art and aesthetics. 

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