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MA History and Philosophy of Art

Course Description

This MA provides a structured introduction to the postgraduate study of the history and philosophy of art. Particular focuses include contemporary art, photography, Renaissance art, medieval art, 18th-century British painting, 19th-century French painting, modernism, aesthetics and the philosophy of art and film. You may elect to take a Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics strand.

The MA gives you the opportunity to pursue your interest in visual art at advanced level, to develop a high level of expertise in topics in history and philosophy of art, and to prepare for doctoral research in history of art or philosophy of art.

The programme is also available at split site between Canterbury and Paris.

About the Department of History & Philosophy of Art

The History & Philosophy of Art Department within the School of Arts, provides opportunities for graduate study with well-established researchers in the fields of art history, philosophy of art and aesthetics. Staff research covers contemporary art and aesthetics, modernism, theories of art, the historiography of art and the Cold War; biographical monographs, the photograph (in its historical, contemporary and critical contexts), and the historical interplay of image, theory and institutions from the Renaissance to the present (especially European and North American).

Developing areas of interest include the cultural and historical significance of the print, and the role of performance and new media in contemporary art practices, which draw upon our links with other subjects within the School of Arts and the Faculty of Humanities. In particular, postgraduates have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the multidisciplinary Aesthetics Research Centre and the Art History and Visual Cultures Research Centre. There is also a full programme of visiting speakers from across the constituent subject areas within the School of Arts, which includes Film and Drama.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

HA898 - Philosophy of Art Dissertation (60 credits)
HA838 - Key Concepts and Classic Texts in History and Philosophy of Art (30 credits)


Assessment is by coursework and the dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

- provide you with a focused programme of taught postgraduate study in history and philosophy of art

- provide you with a taught foundation for subsequent postgraduate research

- enable you to acquire or deepen your knowledge and understanding of the historical and contemporary topics within the history of art and philosophy of art

- enable you to develop your art historical and philosophical skills beyond that expected of an undergraduate

- enable you to develop, articulate and defend art historical and philosophical ideas as they relate to art

- enable you to engage with historical and contemporary theoretical thought about the arts from art historical and philosophical perspectives.

Study support

Postgraduate resources
There is a large and wide-ranging library holding for History & Philosophy of Art, covering the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, aesthetics and contemporary visual communications. There is a substantial stock of periodicals, online access to e-journals and a slide library with well over 100,000 images, covering areas such as contemporary art, visual cultures, garden history and the film still, as well as traditional media. Kent is ideally located for access to galleries in London and on the continent.

In 2010, we moved into the purpose-built, and RIBA award-winning, Jarman Building located at the centre of the Canterbury campus. The new building is home to the Studio 3 Gallery and a range of teaching and social spaces as well as a dedicated postgraduate centre.

All postgraduate students are offered research skills training and the opportunity to take part in reading groups and research seminars at departmental, school and faculty level. Research students have the added opportunity for funded conference attendance. There is also a dedicated student support office at our Canterbury campus, which can offer support and guidance throughout your studies, in addition to an office in Paris.

In recent years, several members of the History & Philosophy of Art Department, both full-time and part-time, have been awarded University prizes for excellence in student support, curriculum innovation and research-based teaching – an ethos which we seek to extend to the postgraduate community.

Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: British Journal of Aesthetics; Art History; History of Photography; Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; Journal of Visual Arts Practice; and The Philosophical Quarterly.

Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme (http://www.kent.ac.uk/graduateschool/skills/programmes/gsa.html). The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.

Research areas

The Department has a collective interest in developing interdisciplinary projects, including projects informed by art history and philosophy of art or aesthetics. Shared areas of research interest include: photography, art theory from the Renaissance to recent times and contemporary art.


Arts postgraduates have gone on to work in a range of professions, from museum positions and teaching roles to marketing and gallery assistants. Our graduates have found work with Tate Britain, the V&A, Museum of Childhood and other arts, culture and heritage-related organisations.

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/

Visit the MA History and Philosophy of Art page on the University of Kent website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Michael Healey

I graduated with confidence, believing that I had the necessary skills and experience to work in the fiercely competitive art world. Indeed, having befriended the artist Humphrey Ocean, I undertook an internship with him, archiving his work – a hugely enjoyable and invaluable experience, which I am continuing with.

As a result of writing on average two essays per module, and reading the work of other art theorists and critics, the degree also improved my writing style considerably. Indeed, in a positive review of Krikey! Kentemporary Prints (an exhibition I curated as part of my degree) which appeared in the scholarly print journal Print Quarterly, Paul Coldwell singled out the catalogue essay I wrote for particular praise. The ‘Print Collecting & Curating’ module, for which I curated the aforementioned exhibition, has had the most profound effect on me, both in terms of personal development and employability. As regards the latter, as well as archiving for Humphrey Ocean, I was put in touch with an art dealer, on whose behalf I have been selling artworks, from 19th century political prints to modern and contemporary paintings. In so doing, I have sold to museums, galleries, societies and universities.

My biggest success so far has been turning a £600 investment into over £11,000 profit. I
am in the process of devising an exhibition proposal – based on a University essay I wrote – and am in discussion with a major London institution to host it.


Entry Requirements

A first or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant humanities subject. Applicants without these qualifications will be judged on the basis of a sample of written work, an interview and relevant experience. For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages (View Website).

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