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The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

MA Aesthetics (1 year)

PLEASE NOTE: This programme is suspended for academic year 2017/18

Aesthetics covers the philosophy of art and questions about aesthetic judgement and value. This course gives you the opportunity to study both the history of aesthetics and some of the most recent arguments by contemporary philosophers.

Introducing your course

Philosophy at Southampton is internationally renowned for its research in areas such as Aesthetics, Normativity and the History of Philosophy. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework Philosophy at Southampton achieved the 7th highest score in the UK for its published work, so you will be joining a very high-calibre team.

The MA in Aesthetics gives you the opportunity to study both the history of aesthetics and some of the most recent arguments by contemporary philosophers. Whether you are simply intending to build on your undergraduate studies or planning to pursue advanced research, this programme has been designed to meet your needs.

The MA in Aesthetics offers a grounding in aesthetics and philosophy of the arts more generally. It allows students the opportunity to explore both the history of aesthetics and contemporary philosophical debate about the arts, and can provide the basis for future research at PhD level.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

To apply for a postgraduate course please visit the How to Apply page or click on the apply button below.

Application process and required supporting documents

  • University online application including a personal statement
  • Transcript
  • 2 references
  • 2 samples of work: supply two pieces of written work of between 1,500 and 2,500 words each on philosophical questions of your choosing
  • English language (if relevant)

If you have a question or would like further information, contact our admissions team:
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 8062

Programme Structure

This programme is divided into 180 credits. 105 credits are obtained from taught modules with the remaining 75 credits relating to the dissertation.

Key Facts

Duration: 1 year (full time); 2 years (part time)

Start date: September

Closing date: 1st September (an application decision cannot be guaranteed in time unless a complete application is received by this date - students requiring a visa to study should also allow extra time for visa processes)

Dissertation Length: 20,000 words

Greek cycladic sculpture
Greek cycladic sculpture

Did you know?

The Southampton pre-Masters can be taken if you have qualifications or grades that do not meet University of Southampton direct entry criteria but meet the minimum entry criteria for the pre-Masters further details). You will be guaranteed a place on your chosen masters degree programme subject to successfully completing the pre-Masters. Visit our pre-Masters Programme to find out more about these degree programmes.

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

Intake: Variable

Average applications per place: 2

Academic entry requirements: First or upper second class honours degree, or equivalent in Philosophy, English literature or a cognate discipline.

English language entry requirements:   IELTS 7.0 overall, with minimum of 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading, listening and speaking, or equivalent in other approved English language test.

Selection process: Online application

Interview may be required on a case by case basis to assess suitability of course

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Typical course content

You will take four modules and write a dissertation (of 20,000 words in length). The modules include two compulsory modules, one specialised module, and a research skills module. Your dissertation may form the backbone of further advanced work towards an MPhil/PhD.

Year 1

Your first semester will be devoted to two core modules: one examines topics in contemporary aesthetics and the other some classic texts in the history of philosophy’s broader reflections on the nature of value.

The dissertation work begins with Semester Two’s Research Skills module, in which you will explore the challenges of formulating a research project and present an analysis of some of the texts upon which your dissertation research will focus.

Semester One
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Semester Two

For their Special Research Topic studied in semester 2, students can choose to study one subject from a broad range of options that include, among many others, the opportunity to examine the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Plato and Wittgenstein as well as to pursue topics in aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind, language, and religion.

If students wish to take a 'free-elective' in Sem 2, they should contact the MA Convenor if they wish to take a non-Philosophy option.


PHIL6049 Individually Negotiated Topic 2

Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:

List of additional costs for this course
Printing and copyingWhere possible, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account You will be given a printing allowance of £1 per 7.5 ECTS FREN towards the costs of printing lecture handouts and/or practical scripts. The University Print Centre also offers a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here: They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters. Details of current costs can be found here:£0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentLaboratory equipment and materials: All laboratory equipment and materials are provided.
EquipmentIT: Computer discs or USB drives Students are expected to provide their own portable data storage device.
EquipmentIT: Software licenses All software is provided.
EquipmentIT: Hardware It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

A postgraduate degree from Humanities at Southampton offers you the wide and varied learning experience you should expect from a leading research university. We are committed to providing a relevant, modern and above all enjoyable experience which will ensure you graduate with the additional skills and understanding you need to start a career in any number of areas or to go on to further research.

How will you learn?

On a postgraduate taught programme teaching is led by academic staff, allowing you to engage with, and contribute to, the world-leading research carried out in Humanities at Southampton. You will complete a core programme of research skills development in tandem with a series of modules which you select according to your personal aims and objectives. Each programme offers a wide and fascinating range of modules related to our specialisms led by academics who are experts in their chosen fields of research and who wish to engage you with their experience. 

In your second semester, you will take two specialised modules (known as ‘Individually Negotiated Topics'). In these sessions, you will meet with your tutor in small groups (of two-three students or even individually) once every two weeks, working through an agreed programme of study. While your tutor will provide guidance, with these small groups there is ample opportunity for the programme of study to be tailored to students' own particular interests; and, in this way, these modules allow you to explore in a structured way topics that fascinate you. Topics might include: Aesthetic Value, Aesthetics of the Environment, Art and Emotion, Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Art, The Philosophy of Horror and Tragedy, Philosophy of Film, Philosophy of Music, Poetry and Philosophy in Plato and Aristotle, 18th Century British Aesthetics, Kant's Aesthetics, Schopenhauer's Aesthetics, Nietzsche's Aesthetics and Collingwood's Aesthetics. (Alternatively, you may choose from MA modules in other Humanities disciplines.)


You will be assessed through essays, presentations and seminar performance, which allow us to assess and provide feedback on the development of your capacity to interpret, analyse and criticise the philosophical texts, problems and positions under debate. Not only this but you will also be assessed through a dissertation over the summer. The 20,000 word dissertation is a core element in establishing the acquisition of appropriate skills and the application of research techniques. Your supervisor will be available to provide regular and supportive advice, guidance and feedback on your progress.

Professional development

A masters degree will enable you to further develop the key skills employers seek such as: time management; problem solving; team work; deadline and project management; cultural awareness; working independently; using your initiative; relationship-building; critical thinking and research analysis. Above all, you will learn to communicate your ideas and enthusiasm to a wide range of audiences.

Study locations

Avenue campus

Avenue campus

Only a few minutes walk from Highfield Campus, Avenue provides a purpo...Find out more

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