Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

PHIL2001 Aesthetics

Module Overview

You might watch a stunning film, hear a delightful song, enjoy a beautiful sunset, read a dreadful poem, attend an elegant dance, or see a garish building. Experiences like this can stimulate thoughts and feelings of great depth, and provide pleasure or displeasure of an utterly unique sort. Indeed, our experience of works and art or of nature can be transformative; they can change one’s thoughts and feelings about the world. It is no surprise, then, that many of the great philosophers from ancient times to the present day have contributed to aesthetics, by investigating the nature and importance of such experiences and the judgements they give rise to. This module aims to introduce you to some influential theories and arguments in philosophical aesthetics and to give you the tools to reflect critically on those theories.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of theories in aesthetics and philosophy of art and the arguments in support of those theories.
  • the problems facing and possible developments of those theories.
  • the relevance of those theories to our current understanding and appreciation of art and nature.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret and evaluate critically complex views and arguments in aesthetics.
  • present and debate ideas in writing, in an open-minded and rigorous fashion.
  • express clearly and support with argument your own views in aesthetics.
  • bring those views to bear on your own experiences of art and of nature.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • debate in a dispassionate and informed fashion about controversial issues.
  • appreciate and evaluate sympathetically different points of views, including points of view remote from one’s own.
  • articulate clearly and concisely a position, the problems facing it, and possible solutions to those problems.
  • work effectively to deadlines and under time pressures.
  • read and interpret difficult texts.


Topics might include: - the nature of aesthetic experience - judgements of taste - beauty and the sublime - art and truth - the relationship between aesthetics and ethics - art and emotion - art and the human condition

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending lectures - Contributing to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed essays and exams

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

A Neill and A Ridley (1995). The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern. 

B Gaut and D Lopes. The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Discussion board activity 40%
Essay  (1500 words) 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings