Course overview

The Philosophy pathway is part of our MA Art and Design programme. It is intended for artists and designers who want to rethink their practice from a philosophical perspective, or for anyone with an interest in the demands that creating and thinking make upon one other. The pathway explores the interaction between philosophy and art and design, including how art and design inform philosophy as a practice. It is a research-preparation programme that can be completed either through written coursework or through a variable combination of writing and practice. The form that your work might take is one of the philosophical questions we discuss. 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, the senses, technology and culture in modern thought. Putting philosophy and art and design together will generate proposals, challenges, artefacts and situations which will alter and expand what it means to think, make and experience.

The pathway has three main components: (1) foundations and key concepts in aesthetics; (2) contemporary debates in the philosophy of art and design; and (3) student-directed projects. Some of the topics covered typically include:

  • Key philosophers and concepts in the history of aesthetics, from Plato to the present
  • The phenomenology of art and design
  • Aesthetics and ecology
  • What is technology? How does it affect what we can do?
  • What forms are appropriate to art and design as critical or ethical practices?
  • What relationship do art, design and philosophy have with writing? How does writing change what we see and think?

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 participate in a series of seminars and workshops, including research writing workshops, and have the option to take a module in transdisciplinary research skills. From February, in the second semester, readings, seminars and workshops are tailored increasingly to the subject interests of the group. Your studies will culminate in the presentation of a major body of practice and dissertation, or a written thesis. The cultivation of a philosophical practice through art or design is encouraged.

The programme is offered in full-time (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 practice, journalism, new media, the public understanding of science, or as a facilitator of interaction between different subject communities. 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 BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent) in a related field.

For further information, contact:

Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills (CRS)

This qualification offers a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the range of methods, strategies and debates which can apply to art and design research.

Click here to visit the CRS web page.

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