Introduction to Aesthetics module (PI11005)

On this page


Module code


  • Level 1
  • Semester 2
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


This module provides an introduction to the basic terminology of aesthetics as a philosophical subject. Through engagement with both ancient and modern conceptions of the relationship between art and philosophy, we will seek to identify and critique key stages in the development of this relation. We begin by looking at Plato and Aristotle's contrasting views on mimesis. After that, we look at how our modern conception of 'aesthetics' as a separate philosophical subject developed in the Enlightenment, drawing on Hume's views on 'taste' and Kant's famous work on the 'beautiful' and the 'sublime'. We conclude the course by examining how Kant's views gave rise to the contrasting views of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Throughout the course, we make use of up-to-date examples of art and literature to consider the theories examined each week, and students are encouraged to participate by suggesting examples of art works for class consideration.


Dr Dominic Smith


The course takes place in Semester 2. There are 10 two-hour long seminars (weeks 1-5 and weeks 7-11), and a reading week in week 6.

Students are expected to have done the week’s assigned reading in advance of the classes. Discussion is an important component of the course, and students are expected to participate.

Students will also have the opportunity to meet with the lecturer individually during scheduled Office Hours to discuss their work.


The assessed components on this module are:

  • Essay 70%
  • Tutorial work 30%


  • Anne Sheppard., Aesthetics. (London, Open University Press, 1987)
  • David E. Cooper (ed.)., Aesthetics: The Classic Readings. (Blackwell 1997)

Access the online reading list system