• CollegeCSM
  • Start dateSeptember 2018
  • Course length2 years

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy

Places available 2017/18
This course has places available for UK and EU applicants for 2017/18 entry. View the ‘How to apply’ section on this page for more details.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy promotes dialogue amongst practitioners and theorists about art discourse today.

Highly relevant for both artists and writers, the course theorises art from a contemporary perspective embracing ideas in Continental philosophy, The Marxist intellectual tradition, as well as psychoanalytic and feminist theories.

This course is part of the Art Programme

Great reasons to apply

  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time 
  • You’ll explore key issues including philosophy's relevance for the theorisation of art, politics, philosophy and art, philosophical approaches to contemporary art, and philosophy and art in a globalised context
  • You’ll benefit from productive exchanges and development of ideas between MA Fine Art practitioners and MRes historians, theorists and philosophers 
  • You’ll be introduced to the professional world of research and debate, supported by lectures from visiting scholars and philosophers 
  • You'll gain skills in close textual analysis, comprehension, reconstruction and interpretation of philosophical arguments, while building expertise in critical analysis and reflection 
  • Our graduates will be well placed to progress to MPhil or PhD research or for a professional future in academic institutions, the arts, and publishing

Meet Course Leader Christopher Kul-Want and students

Course detail

MRes Art allows you to address a specialist area of fine art research and to explore the relationships between your chosen specialism and the broader fine art community in the context of our Fine Art Programme.

Synergies in our Fine Art Programme - incorporating MA Fine Art, MA Art and Science, MA Photography, MRes Art: Exhibition Studies, MRes Art: Moving Image, and MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy - create a dynamic context for exploring practices and issues within contemporary culture.

In its extended full-time mode MRes Art gives you the flexibility to access London's richly varied opportunities for work and study while maximising your personal and professional development.

MRes Art prepares you to work particularly in the academic and research contexts of professional environments, to undertake PhD study, or pursue independent research. The course benefits from links with relevant professional and academic organisations in London and internationally and from the varied expertise of its research staff.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy offers a close reading of relevant texts as well as detailed discussion to promote your understanding and knowledge of major debates and approaches within Continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition, and psychoanalytic theory concerning art. Key issues include philosophy's relevance for the theorisation of art, politics, philosophy and art, philosophical approaches to contemporary art, and philosophy and art in a globalised context. Students in the second year of the course can pursue either discursive or practice-based forms of research.

Course rationale

Despite their differences, and the expansion of the sciences and arts – accelerated through globalisation, media and technology, and polarised by capitalism – what many philosophers today share is an attempt to create understandings of the world that embrace issues of politics, science, epistemology and art.

In this context, it is relevant that state funded research increasingly centers upon two mutually sustaining areas: that of the ‘global crisis’ (the socio-economic, political and ecological consequences of ‘globalisation’ however local the effects) and the notion of the ‘post-human’ (involving research, amongst other things, into neurology and neuroscience, computational interfaces, time, and virtual reality).

These developments and their consequences, discursive and otherwise, form the context for this pathway’s aims with respect to its teaching and research. These aims are, firstly, to analyse and interrogate the assumptions, beliefs, and dogmas shaping the conceptualisation and propagation of contemporary ideas of epistemological change, with respect to globalised forms of space and time; and secondly, wherever possible, to elucidate the creative and political potential within philosophical ideas of epistemological change, especially as this task may bear upon art in its socio-historical and futural modes of production, reception and dissemination.

For this purpose the pathway draws upon the traditions and legacies of continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition and psychoanalytic and gender theories - each of which are driven today by an urgent desire to challenge the assumptions that lie behind identitarian and instrumentalised reasoning, while developing speculative possibilities for thinking, writing and praxis.

The ambition of this pathway is to generate new research and writing practices that extend and, possibly, transform the legacies of these traditions with respect to the arts in a time of ostensible epistemological and political change.

The pathway is augmented through the college’s Art and Philosophy research group’s curation of public events and talks given by leading philosophers and thinkers, as well as through its collaboration with the independent art publishing organisation ‘Three Letter Words’ that supports the pathway’s dedication to writing and publishing as forms of practice in their own right.

Embracing current debates shaping art criticism, art history and theory, aesthetics and philosophy, MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy investigates the relationships of philosophy and art and the extent to which these disciplines are mutually informing. Of particular importance is gauging the relationship of both modern and contemporary art to Continental philosophy, the Marxist intellectual tradition, psychoanalysis, and gender theory. In examining what modern and postmodern philosophers have said about art, the course asks how their ideas relate and differ conceptually.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy aims to lead UK scholarship in the field through its academic activities (conferences, symposia and publications), serving as a platform for students to develop their interest and research towards MPhil and PhD study and facilitating research by its staff. A strong discursive component locates you in the professional world of research and debate, and this is supported by lectures from visiting scholars and philosophers. In pursuing the relationship between art, theory and philosophy the course aims to advance both art practice as a form of thinking and thinking as a form of practice, with the aim of producing qualified researchers, practitioners and writers who will contribute to art, visual studies and philosophy in a contemporary context.

The first year offers teaching in philosophical and theoretical methodologies while engaging you in the major ideas pertaining to the philosophy of art from Kant (one of the first philosophers of aesthetics) to the present. At the same time you'll prepare for a personally directed program of study - your research project. In the second year you'll pursue and realise your project. Your progress is supported through tutorials and critical discussions, and monitored through written assignments and presentations. Your realized project – that can be either discursive or practice-based (art, curatorial, etc.) - is the principal assessed work leading to the MRes qualification.

About the course

  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its 'extended full-time mode.'
  • MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises four units. Unit 1 (40 credits) and Unit 2 (20 credits) run concurrently and last 15 weeks. Unit 3 (40 credits) follows after the completion of Units 1 and 2 and runs for a further 15 weeks to the end of year one. Unit 4 (80 credits) runs for 45 weeks, concurrently with Unit 3 to the end of year one, and then continuing to the end of year two.
  • All four units must be passed in order to achieve the MRes but the classification of the award of MRes is derived from the marks for units 3 and 4 only.
  • In year one we expect you to commit an average of 40 hours per week. In year two your study is predominantly self-managed but we expect you to commit an average of 20 hours per week. Across the two years, therefore, you're expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week.

Unit One: Critical perspectives

Unit one enables you to understand what the key concepts, ideas and debates in philosophy have been concerning politics, science, the arts and epistemology and their interaction in the period from the Enlightenment to the present.

Embracing primarily Continental philosophy and aesthetics, the Marxist intellectual tradition and psychoanalytic and gender theories it builds your appreciation of the major issues and debates arising from philosophy and aesthetics particularly since Kant, while locating these issues within contemporary perspectives and debates concerning the arts.

Key areas include: Kant’s concept of aesthetic judgement; Hegel: Master/slave dialectic, the end of art; Nietzsche’s re-evaluation of Platonism and metaphysics, the ‘will to power as art’; Marx and the fetishism of the commodity; Freud and Lacan on the formation of subjective identity, theories of sublimation, the uncanny, melancholy and mourning, symptom and sinthome; Benjamin, aura and reproduction, mass movement and distraction; Heidegger: Dasein, alétheia, the origin of the work of art, boredom and time.

The unit develops your ability to evaluate and progress your ideas about the theory and philosophy of art and to encourage articulacy in critical discussion and writing.

Unit Two: Methodologies and methods I

This unit is shared across the three pathways of the MRes Art course. It aims to make you aware of a range of methodological approaches that have been shaped by discourses in their field of study (including, but not limited to, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, structuralism, Marxism, feminism and postcolonial studies).

The unit is organised around a set of four keywords or concepts that will be examined through the sessions. Each session will engage with one of these concepts mobilizing a different methodological standpoint.

You will, on the one hand, gain an in-depth understanding of the trajectories of these concepts and the shifting status they have acquired but, more importantly, will become aware of the need to critically scrutinize the implicit or explicit methodology (ies) at play in both the texts you read and those you produce.

Unit Three: Methodologies and methods II

Following on from the discussions of methodology in Unit 2, this Unit deepens your understanding of specific artistic and discursive methods and how they operate in specific texts, debates and events by relating them to the pathways’ respective subject areas and the discourses and problems arising from them. Integral to the unit is a concern with research and writing as practice.

Unit Four: Individual research project (IRP)

Unit four has two parts. Part One is undertaken in parallel with Unit 3 in year one. Part Two is devoted to independent study and the development and completion of your research project in year two. 

Part One

Part One continues the seminar series in unit one concerned with philosophical understandings of the inter-relationship between politics, science, the arts and epistemology and their relevance today. Issues for discussion include neo-liberalism, feminist-marxism, bio-semiotics, phenomenology and post-phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty to Nancy), technics and time (Bergson, Deleuze, Stiegler), the gift, politically motivated artistic interventions, philosophies of cinema, and the Lacanian Real.  Additionally, it focuses on developing your research project proposal. This involves directed reading or viewing, the formulation of specific research questions and methods and the production of a literature review (annotated bibliography) that forms part of your draft individual research proposal (IRP). 

Your proposal’s development is supported through increasingly student-directed seminars and group (as well as personal) tutorials, plus written guidance on the required contents of the proposal document.

Part Two

All projects, including a commitment to the forms of your submission (either discursive or practice-based) and appropriate ongoing supervision/tutorial arrangements, are agreed at the outset of year two. A symposium shared across the MRes pathways presents and discusses all project proposals. In the second year you lead interim presentations about your research discussing progress, challenges and findings, and issues of form, audience and dissemination.

At the end of Unit four you’re assessed through presentation of your realised research project in the agreed forms. Your marks for Units 3 and 4 determine the classification of your MRes award.

MRes Art Programme Specification 2018/19 (PDF, 354KB)

View the MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy event archive

Facilities

Pathway Leader - Moving Image: Duncan White
Pathway Leader - Exhibition Studies: Dr Lucy Steeds

Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Karl Baker
Lecturer, Theory and Philosophy: Dr Carrie Giunta

Reader:  Dr Joanna Morra

How to apply

2017/18 entry
Please note, this course has places available for UK and EU applicants only for 2017/18 entry.

2018/19 entry
Applications for 2018/19 entry will open in Autumn 2017.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form: 

  • Personal details (including full name, date of birth, nationality, permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history. 

Before you can submit the form, you will also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form. 

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email. 

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your critical understanding and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course (you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words).  

Summary of proposed project

  • Briefly describe what you are interested in undertaking and developing; describe the overall aims, objectives and rationale of the project. 

Methods and resources

  • Briefly explain your proposed approach and the methods for structuring your project and ideas.
  • Highlight any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them. 

Sources and references

  • Indicate key texts and sources. What resources will be involved? For example, access to archives, collections, specialist networks etc. 

Any final points

  • Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your proposal. 

Previous work

  • You will be required to submit digital examples of previous written work and/or documentary material relevant to your research interests.

References

This course requires at least 2 references one of which should be an academic or professional reference. 

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.  

What happens next

We read and consider all application forms.  Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview (either in person or by skype). 

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required. 

When to apply

We strongly recommend you apply before 30th June 2017. After that point we cannot guarantee your application will be considered.

Deferred entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

2017/18 entry
Please note, this course has places available for UK and EU applicants only for 2017/18 entry.

2018/19 entry
Applications for 2018/19 entry will open in Autumn 2017.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level) 
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history 

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form. 

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page. 

Immigration History form 

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an Immigration History form. 

We will email you an Immigration History form when we receive your application.

You will need to send this back to us, by email, with copies of the following documents: 

  • Your passport photo page;
  • Your current visa (if you have one) and any previous UK study visas;
  • Your current English language certificate (if you have this);
  • Your academic qualifications (A2, IB, high school diploma, foundation etc. - if completed. Translated into English). 

Please note: If you do not complete and return your Immigration History form we will not be able to proceed with your application. 

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email. 

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your critical understanding and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course (you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words).  

Summary of proposed project

  • Briefly describe what you are interested in undertaking and developing; describe the overall aims, objectives and rationale of the project. 

Methods and resources

  • Briefly explain your proposed approach and the methods for structuring your project and ideas.
  • Highlight any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them. 

Sources and references

  • Indicate key texts and sources. What resources will be involved? For example, access to archives, collections, specialist networks etc. 

Any final points

  • Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your proposal. 

Previous work

  • You will be required to submit digital examples of previous written work and/or documentary material relevant to your research interests.

References

This course requires at least 2 references one of which should be an academic or professional reference. 

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.  

What happens next

We read and consider all application forms.  Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview (either in person or by skype). 

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required. 

When to apply

We strongly recommend you apply before 30 June 2017. After that point we cannot guarantee your application will be considered.

Deferred entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

Entry requirements

Selection to MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy is determined by the quality of your application (including a written indicative project proposal and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course. 

Minimum entry requirements 

We consider applicants who by the start of the course will have achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by: 

  • Having a relevant Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification;
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required. 

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language you will be asked to provide evidence of your English language ability in order to apply for a visa, enrol, and start your course. The English language requirement for entry for this course is: 

IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.0 in any one paper, or equivalent. 

For further information visit the English Language requirements page. 

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the Visa and Immigration page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.  

What we look for

We are seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring theory and philosophy. 

Selection criteria

Your application, indicative project proposal and supporting material will be assessed for: 

  • Evidence of skills and experience appropriate to the proposed field of enquiry;
  • Effective communication of the intentions, purposes and issues in the proposal;
  • The level of contextual awareness and expression of perspective in the project proposal;
  • The potential for realisation of the stated objectives within the timeframe of the course and envisaged resources;
  • Awareness of the range and nature of challenges implied. 

The interview (for applicants selected following submission of the application form, indicative project proposal and supporting work) is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates: 

  • The capacity for independent research;
  • Appropriate critical and reflective abilities;
  • An awareness of the cultural and social context within which they practice;
  • Appropriate communication skills;
  • A preparedness to participate collaboratively in debate, practice and presentation.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £4,250 per year. Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

International fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £10,110 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.

Accommodation

Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarships search

Careers and alumni

Our Postgraduate Art Programme offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills. The exchange of perspectives with others through shared units, reading groups and debates helps establish stimulating and productive networks.

The focus on proposing and developing a major independent programme of study is supported by a shared professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across subject areas. The Postgraduate Art Programme has wide-ranging links with professional organisations, collections and galleries in London and beyond, and includes opportunities for interaction and networking according to your personal career direction.

MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy gives you an advanced knowledge of research methods and familiarises you with the important features, issues and problems of philosophical aesthetics. You'll gain skills in close textual analysis, comprehension, reconstruction and interpretation of philosophical arguments, while building expertise in critical analysis and reflection. The location of the MRes within our postgraduate environment enhances your ability to relate philosophical analysis to art and cultural practices. In addition to further MPhil or PhD research, we envisage a range of professional futures for MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy graduates in academic institutions, the arts, and publishing.

Recent MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject:

  • Jordan Silver who has gained a funded doctoral place in the Dept. of Art History, Film and Visual Studies, Birmingham University. He will also be undertaking a curatorial internship at the Museé d’Orsay, Paris during the summer
  • Lukas Slothuus has gained a funded doctoral place in the Dept. of Philosophy, Edinburgh University to research into contemporary modes of political resistance
  • Constanza Nunez-Melgar Molinari has gained a doctoral place at Kings College, London University to research into the philosopher Georges Bataille and ideas of heterology
  • Adonia Bouchehri completed a Masters in philosophy in the Dept. of Philosophy, Kingston University (2015), currently preparing a doctoral application
  • Niina Keks, runs Reclectic Emporium a design company specialising in furniture and photography 
  • Kimberly Shen currently works for the Arts Council of Singapore
  • Nathalie Czarnecki has created 'Miguel, I am Sofia', a contemporary cabaret telling the story of a Spanish boy's journey towards becoming a woman