1 x 1-hour lecture weekly
1 x 1-hour seminar weekly
1 x 9.25-hour independent study weekly
Assignment(s), Participation
Topic description

This topic will investigate aesthetic values such as beauty, ugliness, comedy, tragedy, drama, horror, and sublimity. Discussion will range freely over different art forms and the appreciation of nature. Questions to be addressed include: Are values such as beauty purely in the eye of the beholder? How does non-vocal music express and arouse emotions? Why do we value works that make us sad or frightened? What makes an object an artwork at all? This topic is particularly recommended for students both in philosophy and the creative arts.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Introduce students to key issues and theories in contemporary aesthetics and the philosophy of art
  • Provide students with sufficient historical and theoretical background that they can read and appraise the arguments of works in aesthetics for themselves
  • Enable students to reflect philosophically on their own creative and appreciative art activities
  • Improve students' critical thinking and communication skills generally
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to able to:

  1. Understand key ideas in the philosophy of art and aesthetics
  2. Improve their capacity to critically evaluate philosophical theories
  3. Improve their capacity to present and defend their own philosophical ideas
  4. Grasp the relevance of the issues covered to wider issues in value theory and philosophy more generally
  5. Understand and defend the motivation and values behind their own aesthetic practices

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.