Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy and Art History

Now In Clearing
BA Philosophy and Art History

Overview

The details
Philosophy and Art History
VV53
October 2019
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). Art History at Essex is ranked within the Top 30 in the Times Good University Guide 2019.

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.
  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK comprising over 750 original artworks and numerous key texts - and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2019 entry and find out if you are eligible. 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.

Art and Ideas: I(A)

Explore the varied ways in which art historians, philosophers and artists have thought and written about art, from the early 20th 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)

This module tackles some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. You will explore some key issues of philosophical aesthetics, such as the nature of representation, by engaging critically with seminal texts, artworks, 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

Skills for University Studies

Making the transition from school to University studies can be challenging. This module will introduce you to University life and enable you to acquire the study skills to make a success of your degree. It also orients you to work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities so that you can acquire additional skills and experience while you study.

View Skills for University Studies on our Module Directory

Introduction to Philosophy

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of knowledge, agency, selfhood, and the vices and virtues of the mind. What does it mean to say that we ‘know’ something? How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of objects? How should we address questions about selfhood and identity? Are there vices of the mind that undermine our reasoning and lead our practical deliberations astray? Can the study of philosophy help us transcend such barriers to good reasoning? And can we flourish as intellectual agents?

View Introduction to Philosophy on our Module Directory

Art, Sex and Death (optional)

Slander. Vendetta. Madness. Infanticide. These and other social problems threatened the integrity of daily life in late medieval and early modern (ca. 1300-1600) Italy--pitting husband against wife, brother against brother, friend against friend. This interdisciplinary module examines a wide range of visual culture (everything from altarpieces to prints, fresco cycles to manuscripts) to discover how images shaped public perceptions of social problems (and how similar processes occur today).

View Art, Sex and Death (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 Realism and Impressionism in France, 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

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

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. We will explore these issues through the study of some of the seminal works of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz.

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)

How have contemporary societies been shaped by the legacies of the Enlightenment, colonialism, and the different phases of capitalism? This interdisciplinary module helps you to critically understand some of the key forces and processes that have shaped the challenges we face in the 20th and 21st century. It is divided into three broad themes Empire, The Self, and Nature. We’ll be examining processes of ‘othering’ that were intrinsic to colonialism and persist today; changing conceptions of the self; as well as both the causes of and potential solutions to the ecological destruction we are confronting today. The module is co-taught by from Art History, ISC, LiFTs, Philosophy, Psychoanalytic Studies and Sociology.

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 1900 to the Second World War, 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

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

Philosophy Capstone Module

This is an intensive final-year module running over five weeks during the summer term. It involves a guided and structured approach to support students in completing a research project of their own. It will be co-taught on a particular theme, with the theme for Summer Term being Challenges to Human Flourishing. Students will be introduced to two major research traditions in Philosophy that bear on this theme: (1) Critical Theory and (2) Phenomenology and Existentialism. Students will be split into two groups that will be taught about these two respective traditions in alternating weeks.

View Philosophy Capstone Module on our Module Directory

Photography in History (optional)

From mementos on the walls of our homes to perfume ads in glossy magazines to selfies on your mobile – photographs are everywhere. In this module, explore how the birth of the camera changed the way people saw themselves 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

Study Trip Abroad (Final Year) (optional)

Vienna, the former capital of the Holy Roman Empire from the 15th century and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its annexation during WW2, has been a key hub of European culture for centuries. The city has oscillated politically over the centuries between cautious conservatism and bold radicalism, and has thus been a locus of fertile cultural development. 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 in the city to see art from the Renaissance to the Present. 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

Community Engagement: Group Projects (optional)

This module offers final year students a unique opportunity to work together in an interdisciplinary team on a real-world project for a local partner organisation. It enables you to use the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during your degree to address a real-world challenge, while sharing and developing your creative, organisational and practical abilities. By doing so, this module will prepare you for entering the graduate labour market or going on to post-graduate study.

View Community Engagement: Group Projects (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 structures governing the possibility of those meaningful experiences. In this module we will closely study one or more of the leading figures of these two inter-related philosophical movements.

View Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional) on our Module Directory

Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason 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.

View Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional) 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

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£15,000

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.

2019 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

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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