Skip to main content
Recognised as one of the most significant and innovative courses in its field and highly-regarded in the international art world, this Aesthetics and Art Theory MA course combines a grounding in philosophical aesthetics in the modern European tradition with study of contemporary art theory and the philosophy of art history.
|Full time||1 year||Two modules per week||September 2021|
|Full time||2 years including professional placement||Two modules per week plus placement year||September 2021|
|Part time||2 years||One module per week||September 2021|
If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2021/22 (i.e. between August 2021 and July 2022), please view the information about changes to courses for 2021/22 due to Covid-19.
Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2021/22 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2021/22. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.
You'll study canonical authors including Adorno, Aristotle, Benjamin, Deleuze, Derrida, de Duve, Duchamp, Greenberg, Heidegger, Kant, Krauss, Rancière, and Schlegel, and gain a clear overview of the main philosophical approaches to modern and contemporary art.
The course will distinguish between ‘aesthetic', ‘Romantic' ‘Modernist' and ‘Contemporary' (global) problematics, and will offer a distinctive grounding in ongoing debates over the reception of contemporary art.
You may also choose from a range of option modules from the Modern European Philosophy and Philosophy & Contemporary Critical Theory MA courses.
You'll take one core taught module worth 30 credits, and then choose three other 30-credit modules from a range of options, before preparing the 15,000 word dissertation (worth 60 credits).
You'll engage with some of the most influential texts in modern and contemporary art theory from Kant, Schiller and Schlegel to Greenberg, Adorno, Rancière and Deleuze – framed in terms of fundamental conceptual problems inherited from the German Idealists.
This module provides an introduction to the tradition of philosophical aesthetics through a detailed study of its founding text, Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgement.
This module provides you with an opportunity for intensive and detailed research-based study of your chosen topic under the guidance of an appropriate MA dissertation supervisor.
Based on a study of artists' texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing students to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable students to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of their study.
This module involves the guided study of major works of contemporary European philosophy, with a focus on themes of time and temporality, broadly understood. The texts will be drawn from the last couple of decades. The module will analyse texts that explore the tension between historical and political time and experiential temporality. The module will focus on concepts such as epochality, the event, historical time, kairos, messianism, memory, anticipation, and revolution. Authors studied may include thinkers like Agamben, Badiou, Cixous, Derrida, Habermas, Negri, Stiegler and Sloterdijk. The module will study texts in the original language (French, German and Italian) and in English translations where available (and French translations for the German and Italian texts). An adequate reading knowledge of French will be a requirement for registration on the course.
A historical and philosophical introduction to the two main 20th-century traditions of Critical Theory: the Frankfurt School and French anti-humanism. After several works devoted to Kant's conception of freedom and practical philosophy, the module focuses on competing conceptions of critique, practice and empowerment, in, for example, Marx, Lukács, Adorno and Horkheimer, Althusser, Foucault, and one or two more recent thinkers (e.g. Badiou or Rancière).
This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century German critical theory or philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two or more related thinkers, such as Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Habermas, Sloterdijk. Indicative topics include: critique of enlightenment, philosophy of history, the non-identical, dialectics, materialism, reification, freedom, communicative reason and the philosophical response to the Shoah.
Through our reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit, we will focus on the issue of understanding, more specifically of philosophical understanding. In the Preface, Hegel states that "philosophical writings" "have to be read over and over before they can be understood" (§63). Which specific mental, cognitive and affective operations does such a rereading imply? According to Hegel, our understanding (Verstand) is not, as a faculty, able to give us access to the "concept" (Begriff). What is it that our understanding does not understand? Through despair, doubt, skepticism and pain produced by the resistance of the philosophical statement, something appears — spirit. "Spirit that appears", such is the meaning of the title Phenomenology of Spirit, such is also the name of the proper philosophical understanding: revelation.
This module provides students with a grounding in Kant's philosophy, through detailed study of the Critique of Pure Reason and its competing interpretations. The module presents Kant's critical project as an historical and conceptual basis for the understanding of subsequent European philosophy as a whole.
This module offers students an opportunity to study major works by Nietzsche and Heidegger. In particular it considers the relationship between Nietzsche's critique of metaphysics as the manifestation of an ascetic 'will to truth' and Heidegger's project of 'dismantling' and 'overcoming' metaphysics in light of a renewal of the question of being.
Each year this module focusses on a study of a different selection of Freud's major and minor works, mining them for their philosophical significance and reflecting on the implications of psychoanalysis for philosophy, particularly in relation to the philosophical notion of the subject. Where appropriate the module will discuss the critical development of this theoretical framework by psychoanalysts such as Jacques Lacan and Jean Laplanche, its reception and deployment in the tradition of Freudo-Marxist critical theory, and the theoretical transformation and political critique of Freudian theory in feminist and queer theory.
This module aims to investigate, via the concept of plasticity, the relations between 'thought' and 'form, that have structured certain central aspects of nineteenth and twentieth-century 'continental' philosophy. Each year, these relations are studied from a different point of view, and in relation to different thinkers. Thinkers covered might include Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida. Each year the locus of study might include broad areas such as 'writing' (in Derrida's sense), 'literature' (Dichtung), 'habit', and 'trace'.
This module involves guided study of one or more major works of modern political philosophy. Texts and themes vary from year to year, but possible topics include: power, class, the state, sovereignty, government, organisation, institution, constitution, representation, democracy, ideology, property, mode of production, capitalism, colonialism, slavery, violence, subjection, nature, citizenship, law, rights, difference, justice, legitimacy, insurrection, insurgency, revolution, resistance, and so on. Approaches to the material will be filtered through contemporary debates in European philosophy and critical theory, with reference to figures like Agamben, Foucault, Negri or Rancière; primary texts may include canonical works by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, as well as material associated with major political sequences like the revolutions in France, the Americas, Russia, Cuba, and so on, or with more recent sequences like the anti-colonial struggles, May 68, or social mobilisations around questions of race, sex, class, debt, etc.
This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century French philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two related thinkers. Possible topics include: Sartre or de Beauvoir's existentialism, Levinasian ethics, Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodied perception, Foucault's theory of power, Derrida's practice of deconstruction, Deleuze's conception of difference, Badiou's concepts of the subject and truth.
This module involves guided study of a selection of major works of post-war Italian philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two or more related thinkers. The module will explore the tension in Italian philosophy between the claims of theology and radical politics, one expressed in the turn to bio-philosophy and bio-politics during the 1990s. Thinkers studies include Agamben, Cacciari, Negri and Esposito. Topics will include: the place of contemporary Italian philosophy with respect to the history of philosophy, its place with respect to French and German philosophy, political theology, time, bio-philosophy and bio-politics.
This module provides an examination of Romantic philosophy of art in the light of the role played by early German Romanticism in recent philosophical and art-theoretical debates, with reference to more recent critical writing on Romanticism.
Each year this module involves guided study of major works from the tradition of Modern European Philosophy, focussing either on a single text or on a range of texts in relation to a theme. The module offers students the opportunity to undertake intensive study under the guidance of a Professor – Étienne Balibar – who is himself a major thinker in the Modern European Tradition. Past topics have included Althusser, the dispute over humanism and the idea of a philosophical anthropology and the reception of Das Kapital in the Western Marxist Tradition. The content of the module changes each year, determined by the research expertise of the module tutor.
Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.
Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.
The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.
All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.
Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.
Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.
The course is delivered through relatively small seminars, which involve a mixture of structured lectures or presentations, textual analysis, and group discussion.
When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy documents and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.
Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.
At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.
5% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of teaching and learning
You'll be assessed through short exercises, essays, independent study, and a 15,000-word dissertation.
For this course you will be assessed entirely on submitted coursework (i.e. there are no exams, and no assessed oral presentations or practical components).
Type of assessment
We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.
To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 10–12 students and module group sizes are normally 8–15 (plus other students who might be sitting in). However this can vary by module and academic year.
This course is taught by leading specialists at the internationally renowned Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy.
Since its inception in 1994, the CRMEP has developed a national and international reputation for teaching and research in the field of post-Kantian European philosophy, characterised by a strong emphasis on broad cultural and intellectual contexts and a distinctive sense of social and political engagement.
In each of the last two research assessment exercises, RAE 2008 and REF2014, 65% of the research activities of the CRMEP were judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', with 25% of its outputs for REF2014 judged 'world-leading'.
Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees.
Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.
Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to, or be required to, buy your own copy of key textbooks.
There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses.
In the majority of cases coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees.
Travel costs are not included but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses and halls of residence.
The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) is pleased to announce a special CRMEP MA scholarship for a full-time student for the academic year 2020-2021.
The award is to the value of £9,900 (equivalent to UK/EU fees + £3,000 expenses). It is open to applicants to all of our postgraduate programmes.
Application is via the standard process, with the addition of a Statement in Support of Application for the Scholarship.
Application deadline: 31 March 2020
Kingston University offers a range postgraduate scholarships, including:
We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:
The campus at Penrhyn Road is a hive of activity, housing the main student restaurant, the extensive learning resources centre (LRC), and a host of teaching rooms and lecture theatres.
The library provides books, journals, computers and a range of learning environments organised into silent, quiet and group study zones. It has long opening hours with 24 hour opening during key teaching weeks (October to June).
There are seven bookable group study rooms for when you need to work together. The large Learning Cafe serves light snacks and drinks.
At the heart of the campus is the John Galsworthy building, a six-storey complex that brings together lecture theatres, flexible teaching space and information technology suites around a landscaped courtyard.
Our graduates often progress to research degrees in European philosophy and critical theory, or to careers in media/journalism, publishing, the arts, education, and public policy.
For example, recent graduates from the Aesthetics and Art Theory MA course have progressed to the following:
The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) organises regular research seminars, conferences or workshops each year. Research seminars are usually held every fortnight during term time; recent speakers have included:
This course is taught by internationally recognised specialists at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), which has a national and international reputation for teaching and research in the field of post-Kantian European philosophy.
In each of the last two research assessment exercises, RAE 2008 and REF2014, 65% of the research activities of the CRMEP were judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', with 25% of its outputs for REF2014 judged 'world-leading'.
Our research areas include:
The experience of delivering courses in 2020/21 under the various Covid-19 restrictions has enabled us to better prepare and plan the delivery of our courses in 2021/22. We are confident the course can be delivered as planned and, therefore, we do not anticipate having to make any further changes to the course, i.e. number of modules or credits in a year, in response to issues arising from the pandemic. However, if this becomes necessary, the changes will be highlighted to students via email before enrolment.
Unless government advice instructs otherwise, Study Abroad programmes will take place in 2021/22. The safety of all our students is paramount, therefore, as per normal practice, all Study Abroad activities must also be approved by the University's insurers to ensure that students are adequately protected during their period abroad. We will provide updates as the pandemic situation stabilises and/or further government advice is released.
Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and in response to feedback from students and other key stakeholders. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students by email before enrolment.
The experience of delivering courses in 2020/21 under the various Covid-19 restrictions has enabled us to better prepare and plan the delivery of our courses in 2021/22. We are confident the course can be delivered as planned and, therefore, we do not anticipate having to make any further changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules in response to issues arising from the pandemic.
Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles, module summaries and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students by email before enrolment.
We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.
In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed in 2021/22, e.g. moving those modules which can be delivered more effectively to the first teaching block and moving back those – such as practical modules and placements – which may be more difficult to deliver due to some ongoing restrictions.
In some cases, it may be necessary to delay placement modules which may then impact the length of the course. In these circumstances the University will guide students through the appropriate options available to ensure students are able to make informed choices.
We have not changed entry requirements as a direct result of the pandemic.
We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a direct result of the pandemic.
As we transition from the pandemic restrictions, we expect to steadily increase the proportion of on-campus teaching. We will continue to provide a proportion of online learning, as experience has shown that this enriches and supports the student learning experience.
If the pandemic affects teaching and learning activities in 2021/22 more than we currently anticipate, the proportion of online learning will increase. However, unless a lockdown is enforced, we will ensure that all courses provide a reasonable percentage of their teaching and learning activities on campus.
Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you should still be able to engage with your course remotely in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, for example on courses with high practical content, your course team will be able to advise you on the options available to you.
The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.
In the event that a further lockdown is enforced in 2021/22 the University will aim to deliver the course fully online once more. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.
Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled learning and teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours were not and will not be made as a direct result of the pandemic.
‘Scheduled learning and teaching' includes teaching delivered online, either live or recorded/on demand.
Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. up to December 2021) should be available by the end of August. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2022) will not be available until the autumn. We make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible.
In 2020/21 it was agreed that scheduled learning and teaching could take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm, to maximise the time available for teaching in order to accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing. This meant we sometimes had to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. If we need to accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing in 2021/22 we expect to adopt a similar approach. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.
The experience of delivering courses in 2020/21 under the various Covid-19 restrictions has enabled us to better prepare and plan the delivery of our courses in 2021/22. We are confident the course can be delivered as planned and, therefore, do not anticipate having to make any further changes to the course, i.e. to the overall methods of assessments, in response to issues arising from the pandemic. However, if this becomes necessary, the changes will be highlighted to students via email before enrolment.
Changes are made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area and in response to feedback received from students and other key stakeholders. Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for Year 1 of the course will be highlighted to students by email before enrolment.
If social distancing or lockdown restrictions are in place in 2021/22, online alternative options to formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be made available to students where possible.
No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.
Staff are engaged in Continuous Professional Development activities to develop their teaching expertise, as part of the normal enhancement processes, to ensure that course teams have the required breadth of expertise.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2021/22.
As we transition from the pandemic restrictions, we expect to be able to increase student access to on-campus facilities. Students will therefore have access to University computers and library facilities.
If, due to an increase in social distancing requirements or the enforcing of a lockdown, it becomes necessary to significantly increase the proportion of teaching delivered online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities might be restricted if social distancing requirements are enforced.
The University is committed to supporting students who are unable to access suitable technology to ensure equity of access in a blended delivery mode.
There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2021/22. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2021/22.
We are anticipating that placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead in 2021/22. However, to ensure students gain maximum value from placement activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year, when any impacts from the pandemic restrictions are minimised.
Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through the University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered.
In the interests of the health and wellbeing of our students, all placement arrangements must be approved by the University's insurers and the appropriate risk assessments made before students are sent on a placement.
Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.
No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. BSc (Hons), MSc, etc., as a direct result of the pandemic.
Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students by email before enrolment.
The experience of delivering courses in 2020/21 under the various Covid-19 restrictions has enabled us to better prepare and plan the delivery of our courses in 2021/22. We are confident the course can be delivered as planned and in accordance with any professional body requirements. We do not anticipate making any further changes to courses in response to any issues arising from the pandemic and which would put at risk any professional body accreditation status.
International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.