Show/hide main menu

Level 6

6AANA034 Aesthetics


Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Eliot Michaelson


  • Summative assessment: two 2,500-word essays (50% each) 
  • Formative assessment: one 2,500-word essay


  • Summative assessment: two 2,500-word essays (50% each)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,500-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.

Pre-requisites: This module has been designed with third-year philosophy students in mind; it is not intended as an introductory course in philosophy.  The module will assume substantial familiarity with a variety of philosophical distinctions and concepts (e.g. a basic acquaintance with propositional logic) and an ability to read texts in contemporary analytic philosophy without extensive guidance from the instructor.  Students who have not completed at least one level 5 philosophy module in the philosophy department are highly discouraged from enrolling in this module. Students in doubt about whether this module is suitable for them are encouraged to contact the instructor.

This module will explore the question of how pictures, photographs, maps, and films represent things. The course will address a variety of interrelated questions that arise in the context of answering this question: how do these things acquire their 'aboutness'?  What is the difference between analogue and digital representation?  What differentiates pictures, maps, and photographs?  How do these sorts of representations encode information in a different way than sentences do?  And, finally, do we think in anything like pictures?

Detailed information on the current year’s module can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff.   

Suggested/preliminary reading

  • Lessing, A., ‘What is wrong with a forgery?’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 19 (1965), pp.461-7.

Further information

Module aims

The Aesthetics module contributes to the general aims and objectives of the Philosophy BA degree by giving students the resources to enable them to investigate the natures and values of the arts, the concepts integral to aesthetic judgment and appreciation, the nature of aesthetic experience and its significance in human life.

Learning outcomes

Students completing this module should:

  • Understand the nature of some central problems in aesthetics.
  • Encounter and evaluate a number of attempts to solve the philosophical problems under discussion.
  • Acquire an ability to relate the questions discussed to the work of philosophers studied on other papers.
  • Be encouraged to read with great care and reflect upon some difficult texts, as well as introductory and secondary material
Past syllabi

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

Detailed information on the current year’s module can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff.    


Core reading

Images, John Kulvicki

Making Comics, Scott McCloud

The Visual Story, Bruce Block


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454