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Course overview

The Philosophy pathway is part of our MA Art and Design programme. It is intended for art and design graduates who wish to explore philosophical themes arising from their work, or to develop their practice in response to philosophical ideas and questions. It is also designed for humanities or science graduates who are interested in how thought is affected when it has to confront the demands of aesthetic experience and art and design practice. Most especially, it is intended for graduates who want to confront the tensions between visual theory and practice, and to work through the demands which thinking and aesthetic experience make on each other. The course is a research-preparation programme which can be taken either as a theory–practice or a purely theoretical route. Some familiarity with philosophy is desirable but not essential.

Course content

Art and design are fundamentally philosophical. In different but related ways, art and design challenge the meanings and values we attach to objects and situations, and have the potential to transform human being and action. These challenges and transformations invite philosophical appraisal, but not just in order to preserve truth or to keep things in check. Philosophy offers some of the most stimulating and influential ideas about art, sensory experience and culture in modern thought. Putting philosophy and art and design together will generate discussion, proposals, challenges, artefacts and situations which will alter and expand what it means to think, make and experience. The kind of topics we cover include:

• How does metaphor generate knowledge?
• Can artefacts embody thought or agency?
• How can design critique social or political norms?
• How do theory and practice intersect, and would we know it if we saw it?
• Is there a mode of philosophy appropriate to art and design and, if so, how do we assess ‘appropriateness’ here?

The programme provides thorough engagement with key concepts and questions in the philosophy of art and design, and demonstrates with reference to contemporary examples how philosophical thinking and visual practice can address one another. Training in a series of cross-disciplinary research methods is given.

As a Philosophy MA (Art & Design) student, you will develop your own creative, theoretical and practical abilities, as well as a critical insight into your chosen area of philosophical enquiry. You will work towards a certificate in academic research skills, and attend a series of research seminars. Your period of study will culminate in the presentation of new, practice-based or theoretical work, and the writing of a dissertation. Furthermore, the programme will help you to develop your practical and theoretical interests in ways which allow the wider social and cultural relevance of your work to become apparent. To achieve this, you will:

• Formulate an original, professionally designed and managed project that extends your knowledge, understanding and practice within the philosophy of art and design.
• Reflect on the knowledge, skills and understanding that you need in order to develop this body of work.
• Familiarize yourself with a range of contemporary research positions within the field.
• Be involved in debate and discussion relating to contemporary aesthetics and at an advanced level.
• Toward the end of the course, produce a high-level final exhibition of practice-led or theoretically- situated outcomes and academic scholarship that synthesizes the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired on the programme.

Staff teaching on the Philosophy MA (Art & Design) programme are actively involved in producing or writing about art and design philosophically. They bring this knowledge and experience to the programme, entering into an ongoing dialogue with you in order to develop and strengthen your professional practice and intellectual outlook. On completing the programme, you will not only have a better understanding of the philosophy of art and design, but will also be able to contribute to the wider creative and cultural sector by working as an artist, designer, thinker, communicator, administrator, teacher or researcher.

We anticipate that some of our Philosophy MA (Art & Design) graduates may choose to pursue their research to doctoral level, enrolling for a PhD at Cardiff School of Art and Design or elsewhere.

This programme is offered in both full-time mode (one year duration) and part-time mode (two year duration). In both cases, the programme is delivered on one day per week during the first and second semesters (October to June). You will be expected to be self-directed at all other times, negotiating your own programme of learning with your personal tutor.

Career potential:

Graduates of the Philosophy MA (Art & Design) programme are well placed to pursue their career in a variety of professional or creative industries contexts, including art or design practice, arts administration, journalism, marketing, new media, and publishing. Others may seek to develop their careers in education and academia, for example, teaching, lecturing or further research.


Assessment is though a combination of portfolio review, essay, viva voce examination, dissertation and a final body of theoretical–practical work.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good BA (Hons) (or equivalent) in a related field. Some familiarity with philosophy is desirable but not essential.

Email for more information.

Below is a list of other related courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Visit the courses page for the full list.
Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills: Art & Design (CRS)
Ceramics - MA
Master of Fine Art (MFA)

Cardiff School of Art & Design is home to 1200 students, united by ambition and a true passion for creative enquiry. We are makers and thinkers in the fields of fine art, design, architecture and a range of craft practices. We have workshops and studios that ensure our students can operate as professionals from the moment they start their studies.

Open Days

Undergraduate Open Days for 2015 entry:
27th September 2014
15th November 2014

Visit the Open Day web page for more information.

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Download a prospectus

Click here to visit our Prospectus page with links to pdf prospectuses for the range of subjects covered at CSAD, along with links to the websites for each subject.

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