Studying online

There are now 3 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Units available in Online Restricted mode have been adapted for online study only for those students who require the unit to complete their studies and who are unable to attend campus owing to exceptional circumstances beyond their control. To be enrolled in a unit in Online Restricted mode, students should contact their Student Advising Office through askUWA

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This is an introductory unit in aesthetics (the philosophy of art). It examines perennial problems in aesthetics from a philosophical perspective. Areas of enquiry vary and may include—What is art? What is the value of art? What do we learn from art? What is beauty? How important is a definition of art and the artists' intentions in understanding or appreciating a work of art? What is an aesthetic experience and how can aesthetic value be determined? Are there objective standards of taste? Can one person's judgement regarding works of art be better than another's? What should the role of an art critic be? Is so-called 'high' art more valuable than 'low' art? Is mass art 'art' and is it morally problematic? What is the relation between aesthetics and ethics? Why do we enjoy watching horror films and why do we emotionally react to works of fiction? What, if anything, is wrong with sentimentality? Special topics include—Is photography an art? Is architecture an art? How does music express emotion? The unit also looks at the aesthetic appreciation of nature. Readings are drawn from classical and contemporary sources but the unit is not an historical survey.

6 points
Not available in 2023UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) have a critical understanding of fundamental problems of aesthetics (philosophy of art); (2) have an awareness of the philosophical aspect of issues relating to art; (3) assess philosophical theories regarding the nature of these issues; (4) have a critical appreciation of the representation of philosophical ideas about aesthetics, works of art, and aspects of entertainment; (5) understand ways in which issues in aesthetics are related to other philosophical problems in ethics, metaphysics and social and political philosophy; (6) have something of interest, aesthetically speaking, to say after seeing an art exhibition, an interesting movie or reading a book; (7) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (8) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions; (9) evaluate complex philosophical positions and arguments; (10) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines; (11) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues; (12) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; and (13) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essay; (2) examination; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Andrew Milne
Unit rules
any Level 2 Philosophy unit
or PPHE2211
PHIL2208 Aesthetics.
PHIL2207 Philosophy, Literature and Film
Contact hours
lectures: 10 x 2 hour
seminar discussions: 10 x 1 hours
Attendance at all lectures is required. Lectures are not taped and are not to be recorded. Some lecture notes and additional readings are placed on the LMS (Learning Management System).
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.