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Philosophy and Art History

Course overview

(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Art History
University of Essex
University of Essex
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
History of Art, Architecture and Design

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

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.

Final year: Students may only take one final-year project/dissertation option from the following list: AR382-6-FY or AR383-6-SP or PY426-6-AU or PY426-6-SP. Students who have the option to do so may, if they wish and have the module supervisor’s permission, take 30 credits at level 6 in year 2. They may also take 30 credits at level 5 in year 3. It is recommended that students take 120 credits at level 6 as at least 90 credits at this level must be passed to be awarded a degree. See section D: Rules of Assessment.

External Examiners

Prof Richard Simon Clay
Newcastle University
Professor of Digital Cultures

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 PY111-4-FY Introduction to Philosophy Core 30
02 AR113-4-SP Art and Ideas: I(A) Core 15
03 AR119-4-AU Art and Ideas: I(B) Core 15
04 PY113 or CS101 or Outside Option(s) Optional 30
05 Recommend AR116-4-AU and/or Art History option(s) Optional 30
06 CS711-4-FY Skills for University Studies Compulsory 0

Year 3 - 2021/22

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 Art History option Optional 15
02 Philosophy option Optional 15
03 Art History or Philosophy options Optional 30
04 PY455-6-SU Philosophy Capstone Module Compulsory 30
05 AR323-6-AU Art and Ideas III Compulsory 15
06 Art History or Philosophy option Optional 15

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To offer a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum across the field of art history and philosophy.

To provide the opportunity for an understanding of both artistic and philosophical events within a broader theoretical, aesthetic and cultural context.

To enable students to understand the relationship between the ideas, theories and aesthetic concepts of the past and the present and to enable consideration of the ways in which this is documented creatively and visually.

To encourage both critical engagement with and enjoyment of the visual arts, particularly through first-hand observation.

To develop the skills of research analysis and argument which bring the disciplines of philosophy and art history together and to enable students to understand and to appreciate the relationship between them with a degree of critical awareness.

To enable students to undertake independent study in a dissertation on a topic of their choice within the School.

To provide the knowledge and skills (critical inquiry and argument, imaginative understanding, written, spoken and visual interpretation, communication and presentation) that will not only stand students in good stead for more specialised academic careers, but will also enhance their opportunities for employment in a wide range of other careers.

The outcomes listed below represent the minimum that might be expected of a graduate of the School of Philosophy and Art History of the University of Essex. It is the intention of the School that the vast majority of graduates will achieve significantly more.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Knowledge of philosophical texts from a variety of traditions and visual art from the Early Renaissance to the present day, including theoretical issues that have been central to the Western European and Latin American traditions in visual art.
A2 Knowledge of significant figures in the history of philosophy, and of some central theories, arguments and issues connected with them, and figures in art history as well as the relationships of works of visual art to the broader cultural context.
A3 Knowledge of techniques of philosophical reasoning and conceptions of philosophical method, embracing diverse traditions and approaches, as well as basic methods of critical analysis and argument appropriate to visual artefacts.
A4 Knowledge of major issues currently being debated by philosophers and some substantive areas of current research in the field of art history including an awareness of the development of these areas of research.
Learning Methods: The degree is based on progression from introductory topics in the first year to a more specialised set of modules in the second and third years. Knowledge and understanding are developed via lectures, classes, coursework and examination. Individual and group presentation work develops both A2-A4 in particular.
Regular, detailed feedback from tutors, both oral and written, enables continued and measured progression.

Regular museum, gallery and exhibition visits enable the development of knowledge and understanding within a geographical and historical framework and similarly covers A1-A4.

Study visits both within the UK and abroad during the second and the third year enable understanding as above and A1 specifically.

This independent research is then consolidated in essay work, and through feedback in written form.
Assessment Methods: Assessment is continual throughout each academic year. Depending on module choices this can take the form of written essays, literature reviews, take-home research papers, in-class slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.

Similarly, more informal but regular contact with tutors, both in classroom discussion and tutorial sessions, enables continued reflection and improvement throughout the entire course.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Ability to analyse a given body of material, breaking it down into component points or parts and highlighting the most significant among them, and to present one's own evaluation of it.
B2 Ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical or art historical terminology.
B3 Ability to summarise complex and demanding texts, often written at historical distance, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose.
B4 Ability to identify underlying issues in philosophical texts, debates and arguments, and to highlight deficiencies such as unquestioned assumptions, superficial analogies and unsubstantiated claims.
B5 Respond to unfamiliar artefacts, issues or ideas with an open mind
B6 Solve problems using knowledge and experience.
Learning Methods: Intellectual and cognitive skills are introduced through background reading, of primary and secondary material (be this class reading and/or preparation for presentation work) by in class discussion and by visual analysis of works of art in order to cover B1-B6.
Similarly all skills B1-B6 are developed with feedback from tutors and in peer groups more generally.

Assessment Methods: Assessment is continual throughout each academic year. Depending on module choices this can take the form of written essays, literature reviews, take-home research papers, in-class slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.

Similarly, more informal but regular contact with tutors, both in classroom discussion and tutorial sessions, enables continued reflection and improvement throughout the entire course.

C: Practical skills

C1 Critical Skills: including selection of relevant material from a range of sources, including books, journal articles, library and internet resources, and appraisal of other people's arguments on the basis of familiarity with source materials and current literature.
C2 Research Skills: including use of appropriate methods to locate primary and secondary sources, and works of visual art.
C3 Writing Skills: including use of academic conventions and logical, structured argument, and the ability to express oneself clearly
C4 Visual Skills: including observation (recognition of materials and techniques but also other aspects of works of visual art such as formal organisation or narrative structure), description (using ordinary as well as specialised language) and analysis.
Learning Methods: Preparation for and participation in seminar discussion develops C1-C4. The presentations demonstrate C3 and C4 in particular.
The final year dissertation, compulsory for the course, enables students to focus on all areas but especially C1 and C2 and as such introduces students to the demands of independent research which is a key indicator to the demands of, as well as any potential inclination towards postgraduate study.

Assessment Methods: Assessment is continual throughout each academic year, depending on modules this can take the form of written essays, literature reviews, take-home research papers, in-class slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.
Similarly, more informal but regular contact with tutors, both in classroom discussion and tutorial sessions, enables continued reflection and improvement throughout the entire course.

C1 and C2 are assessed by analysis of documents and bibliographical materials.
C1, C2, C4 are assessed as part of group work in particular.
C1, C2, C3 and C4 are assessed by coursework in particular.
Presentation work and examinations also test the skills of working under pressure without notes and cover C1-C4.

D: Key skills

D1 The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts using a range of different aids or resources; special ability to deploy visual material in a variety of media in the context of presentations or written work
D2 Students should be able to make use of IT for research purposes (including searchable databases such as library catalogues and internet sources), to present assessed work, and be able to use email.
D3 Ability to identify the problem to be solved; to articulate critically the assumptions underlying or connected with the problem; to compare and contrast differing and often contradictory solutions to the problem; and to provide argument and evidence in defense of one's solution to the problem.
D4 Students will be given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, and be able to participate effectively in seminars.
D5 Ability to read closely and carefully; to organize one's reading and thinking in relation to specific topics; take responsibility for their own work; reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback from the lecturer in the form of written comments on coursework and oral communication; and to work to deadline
Learning Methods: Skills D1-5 are acquired and developed through the teaching and learning methods described above and in class discussions.

The four key skills are implicit throughout the degree. Communication is developed through seminar discussion, but also through attending lectures.

Students are encouraged to use the University key skills on-line package (listed in the School Handbook), word processing packages, library searches and internet resources.

Students are expected and encouraged to share responsibility for their own programme of studies.
Assessment Methods: Outcomes D1-5 are assessed through continuous coursework and unseen written examinations.

Coursework consists of essays written during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written feedback for the student.

Examinations consist of essay-based questions, for which revision classes are provided.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: