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 and gender 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.
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 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 neoliberalism, 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.
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.
For a selection of lectures and talks from various guests, head to the archive below.
View the MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy lecture archive