Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

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

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
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate a critical understanding of central topics in the philosophy of art; (2) independently interpret complex philosophical texts in aesthetics from a variety of historical and contemporary sources; (3) evaluate and compare complex philosophical arguments and positions in central topics in aesthetics; and (4) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills in argument construction about aesthetic concepts.


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
PHIL2208 Aesthetics.
PHIL2207 Philosophy, Literature and Film
Contact hours
lectures: 10 x 2 hour
seminar discussions: 10 x 1 hours
  • 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.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.