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Unit code: PHIL20951
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit?: N



Additional Requirements

Pre-requisites: 20 PHIL credits at Level 1

20 PHIL credits at Level 1.


This course unit aims to:

- Enable students to analyse, and develop their own reasoned opinions on, some of the most central and enduring problems in analytical aesthetics.
- Enhance students' powers of critical analysis, reasoning and independent thought.
- Familiarise students with some of the most interesting and provocative texts in analytical aesthetics


This course unit is concerned with central questions in analytical aesthetics. The first half of the course covers general questions in aesthetics, such as: what is an artwork?; what is the relation between aesthetic properties, such as elegance and gracefulness, and nonaesthetic properties, such as colour and shape properties?; do perfect forgeries differ in aesthetic value from the originals of which they are forgeries? The second half of the course covers questions specific to the visual arts, such as: how does the way in which photographs represent their objects differ from the way in which paintings do?; what consequences does this have for the aesthetic appreciation of each?; what is it for a work of visual art to be realistic?; is cinema an especially realistic art form?

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a weekly 2-hour lecture and 1-hour tutorial (for which students will read key texts and prepare answers to questions set by the tutor).

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

- Knowledge and understanding of a range of central texts in analytic aesthetics.
- Some in-depth critical knowledge of some of the most important theories in the areas covered by the course.
- The ability to critically reflect on those theories, and to articulate and defend their own views.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Assessment methods

  • Other - 10%
  • Written exam - 55%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 35%

Assessment Further Information

Part of the assessment is by Tutorial Participation (Other) = 10%

Recommended reading

Noel Carroll, Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 1999)

Matthew Kieren (ed) Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (Blackwell, 2006)

Gordon Graham, Philosophy of the Arts: An Introduction to Aesthetics (Routledge, 1997)

Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley (eds.), Arguing about Art (McGraw-Hill, 1995)

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 170 hours

Teaching staff

Julian Dodd - Unit coordinator

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