Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy and Art History

Now In Clearing
BA Philosophy and Art History

Overview

The details
Philosophy and Art History
VV53
October 2018
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

You study the disciplines of philosophy and art history together in order to appreciate the relationships between the two disciplines with a degree of critical awareness. In so doing you are offered a unique approach to develop skills which are now vital in a society dominated by the visual image and visual forms of communication.

You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses.

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are ranked 6th among Art History departments in the UK for research excellence and Top 20 in the UK for research excellence for Philosophy (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014). Both Philosophy and Art History were also ranked within the Top 10 in the Times Good University Guide 2018.

Why we're great.
  • We focus on the existential questions of human life, and provide a critical perspective on the social, political and economic challenges we are facing today.
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad covers both the exotic and the local.
  • We house the most important collection of Latin American art in Europe, ESCALA.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Our expert staff

We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the early modern period to the present day.

Our art history staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship of art and science, the artistic status of body modification, expressions of societal anxiety in art, as well as architecture and urbanism.

Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our philosophy research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014), which puts us fifth in the UK for research outputs.

Our open-minded and enthusiastic philosophy staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.

Specialist facilities

  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
  • Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks by curators and artists, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
  • Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
  • An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
  • Access a variety of philosophy and art history textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library

Your future

Graduates equipped with an understanding of wider ethical and philosophical issues are becoming increasingly attractive to employers. Many employers want graduates with critical thinking skills who can think logically and creatively about practical problems.

Our students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including law, PR, journalism and the media, the Civil Service, charity work, banking, and the NHS. Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies.

Our BA Philosophy and Art History provides you with you with:

  • The ability to understand all sides of a dispute objectively and without forming a premature opinion
  • The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
  • The ability to think clearly, creatively, and self-critically
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

If you have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2018 entry through Clearing. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Introduction to Philosophy

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of scepticism and matters of life and death. Do we truly know anything? Might, for all we know, our brains be under the control of evil scientists? Is torture ever justified? How demanding is morality and how much of our lives should it cover?

View Introduction to Philosophy on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas: I(A)

Explore the varied ways in which art historians, philosophers and artists have thought and written about art, from the Antiquity to the 21th century. This module examines the role of emotions in experiencing art, social and feminist art histories, the changing conceptions of what defines ‘art’, and the impact that ideas have on artistic creation itself. It will provide you with a sound foundation in the fundamental theoretical issues relating to the history of art and artistic practices.

View Art and Ideas: I(A) on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas: I(B)

Build on your knowledge gained from AR113, and tackle some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. Explore the key issues of storytelling and style, and the complex notion of “looking”, by engaging critically with seminal texts, original works of art, and architecture. Through debates and essays, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.

View Art and Ideas: I(B) on our Module Directory

Death, God and the Meaning of Life (optional)

Ask life’s big questions: What, if anything, is the meaning of our lives? How can we become wise? Can we make sense of human suffering? How should we think about our own deaths? You take up these questions, first, by examining a series of ancient narratives, including The Myth of Sisyphus and Eden and the Fall; and then through the study of key works of modern philosophers including Nietzsche, Weber and Freud.

View Death, God and the Meaning of Life (optional) on our Module Directory

Art Revolutions (optional)

Meet the rule-breakers. What is it that motivates an artist to break the mould? Focussing on French Impressionism, this module identifies not only how the political, social and economic changes during the nineteenth century affected art and creative thinking, but how this vibrant and multi-faceted group of artists, who refused to follow the crowd, influenced their world. Through analysis of primary and secondary sources, you’ll explore their historical reputation, as well as their relevance today.

View Art Revolutions (optional) on our Module Directory

Essex Cultural Outreach

Gain first-hand professional experience in the cultural and creative sector with this practical skills-based module. You will work with the Arts Education team on an arts projects with a local school, discovering how to plan and deliver effective and engaging sessions, whilst learning about the career opportunities in this sector. By helping children develop, you’ll reflect upon your own strengths and capabilities, building on vital transferrable employability skills such as teamwork, resilience, leadership, and experience of working with outside organisations. You will have the opportunity to put yourself forward for extra Arts Award training, helping you to stand out from the crowd. Complementing other modules on the course, this module will also prepare you for a placement or year abroad.

View Essex Cultural Outreach on our Module Directory

Knowledge and Reality

What is the nature and limit of human knowledge? What are the relations between faith and reason? What is the relation between the body and the mind? Study the philosophical texts of the modern era that helped lay the conceptual foundations for these questions and others. You explore the work of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume.

View Knowledge and Reality on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art

Some of the most captivating artworks in European art history have come to be known as ‘Baroque’, but what does this term mean? When did it emerge and what is at stake in calling an artwork Baroque? Originally introduced as a derogatory term, recently the stylistic and theoretical notion of the Baroque has been of much interest in art history. This course introduces these debates to students through writings that discuss key seventeenth-century artworks such as the dramatic paintings of Caravaggio, the voluptuous sculptures of Bernini, and the dynamic architecture of Borromini. 'More Art, More Ideas: Baroque and Neo-Baroque' solidifies and deepens students' understanding of the reception, theorisation and critique of art, as well as the developments and shifts of art history as a discipline over time.

View Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art on our Module Directory

Art and Power (optional)

Explore the vibrant artistic culture of the Renaissance court, an environment where magnificence and splendor served to justify rule, neutralize dissent, and enforce hierarchies of power. In the courts of Milan, Ferrara, and Florence, among others, we will encounter famed artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Titian. Paying particular attention to gender, this module examines the role of visual culture in shaping conceptions of ruling authority, chivalry, courtly love, virility, fecundity, and beauty.

View Art and Power (optional) on our Module Directory

Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing (optional)

Discover the relations between philosophy and literature. You study Iris Murdoch’s account of life as a ‘pilgrimage’ from appearance to reality, which she claims is the concern of great art, and Martha Nussbaum’s rejection of this in her discussion of Greek tragedy. You then explore Richard Rorty’s account of <i>Nineteen Eighty Four</i> as demonstrating that no ‘truth’ is written into the human condition, before finally looking at Stanley Cavell’s comparison of philosophical scepticism and Shakespearean tragedy.

View Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing (optional) on our Module Directory

The World in Question: the Social, Political and Psychological Legacies of the Enlightenment (optional)

What kind of societies have we created in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries? What makes them new? Or are they simply new expressions of old ideas? Study contemporary issues such as the humanitarian treatment of people, the meaning of the self and global warming that have arisen out of the ideas behind the Enlightenment, colonialism, and capitalism.

View The World in Question: the Social, Political and Psychological Legacies of the Enlightenment (optional) on our Module Directory

Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism (optional)

This module seeks to answer the thorny question ‘What makes art modern?’ by considering different strands of European modern art from the 1900s through 1945, including Futurism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. Some key issues addressed include the birth of abstraction; the relationship between art and politics; and intersections between art, mass media, and consumer culture.

View Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism (optional) on our Module Directory

Modern Social and Political Thought (optional)

This module introduces students to key debates in modern social and political thought. We focus on seminal texts by authors such as Hobbes, Spinoza, and Rousseau, whose contributions have radically transformed our understanding of social and political life. We explore the roots of modern notions like the state and society, and scrutinise the nature of freedom, power and democracy. Finally, we consider whether these authors’ accounts of social misdevelopments can still guide critiques of contemporary society.

View Modern Social and Political Thought (optional) on our Module Directory

Capstone Preparation Module

This module will prepare you for your final-year capstone project in Art History, whether it be a dissertation or a curatorial project. All second-year students following BA schemes in Art History, including those on Study Abroad variants, are required to complete the Capstone Preparation Module. This module will support you in developing a clearly defined topic, a research plan, and a bibliography of key texts. It will prepare you for the required Art History capstone by guiding you through the process of conceiving, developing and proposing an extended piece of research (either a dissertation or curatorial project) based on a topic which you have chosen yourself.

View Capstone Preparation Module on our Module Directory

Study Trip Abroad (Final Year) (optional)

Rome is a multi-layered, palimpsestical city with an extraordinarily rich artistic, architectural, and archaeological heritage. The trip will explore the varied life and afterlife of classical Antiquity in Rome from the time of the city’s foundation to the twentieth century. Taking in sites within the city, it will also include tips to places that are further afield. As part of this module you have the opportunity to go on a 7-10 day study trip to visit museums, key building and cultural sites. The department provide a subsidy for Art History students for this trip, but you will be responsible for covering any additional costs outside of this. Any students who do not study Art History will be required to cover their own costs. Costs will differ each year depending on the destination and details for the trip.

View Study Trip Abroad (Final Year) (optional) on our Module Directory

Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional)

Existentialism encompasses a variety of different thinkers unified by a.) the belief that human existence cannot be fully understood using the categories provided by the philosophical tradition or the natural sciences, and b.) a commitment to taking seriously the first-person quality of experience as it is lived. For this reason Existentialism has close ties to Phenomenology, which is a philosophical methodology defined by its insistence on examining meaning as it is experienced first-personally in order to uncover the structural necessities governing the possibility of those meaningful experiences. This module is dedicated to the intersection of these philosophical approaches.

View Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional) on our Module Directory

Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)

Kant's <i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> initiates a new 'critical' method in philosophy which has been highly influential in both continental and analytic philosophy. His critical method establishes a new way of thinking about the relation in which we stand to the world, and the role played by knowledge and judgement within that world. You explore the ways in which Kant has been taken up in twentieth and twenty-first century continental philosophy.

View Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Art, the Law and the Market (optional)

When artworks or artefacts have been looted, should finders really be keepers? What causes an artwork to fetch £100 million at auction? And when is it (il)legal to reproduce another artist’s work and claim it as one’s own? Study how issues of property rights, valuation, market transparency and digitisation have shaped -- and continue to reshape -- the field of art across different media.

View Art, the Law and the Market (optional) on our Module Directory

Freud and the Philosophy of the Unconscious (optional)

Many of Freud`s ideas have become integral to the ways in which we think about ourselves and about our mental life. At the same, Freud`s claims about the nature and functioning of the human mind raise many intriguing and unresolved philosophical questions. You study Freud’s method of interpreting the unconscious meaning of dreams, conceptions of gender and sexuality, and the nature of the unconscious, before considering philosophers who have criticised Freud, including Sartre, Wittgenstein, Ricoeur, and Habermas.

View Freud and the Philosophy of the Unconscious (optional) on our Module Directory

Photography in History (optional)

From mementos on the walls of our homes to perfume ads in glossy magazines, from selfies to forensic imaging – photographs are everywhere. In this module, explore how the birth of the camera changed the way people saw themselves, their nation, and their world, and how it continues to do so. Learn about the history of photography, interpreting and analysing both photographs and texts, and see how the photograph’s status shifted over time from document to artwork.

View Photography in History (optional) on our Module Directory

Philosophy Dissertation (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a dissertation on a philosophical topic studied in either your second year or the autumn term of your final year.

View Philosophy Dissertation (optional) on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas III

New, exciting, and unconventional practices call for new, exciting and unconventional theories. This module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge, concentrating on contemporary art and philosophical responses to it. You’ll find out why contemporary art forced a new beginning in the way we theorise art, examine the connection between the new and the museum, and learn more about viewer participation and the role of the spectator.

View Art and Ideas III on our Module Directory

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
  • Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
  • Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose

Assessment

  • Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year
  • In your second- and third-years of philosophy modules, you may write an optional essay if you wish, in order to improve your coursework mark

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£14,020

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018
  • Saturday, October 27, 2018

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.

Find out more about Clearing

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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