'The unexamined life is not worth living' Socrates
‘Nothing is so like a soul as a bee. It goes from flower to flower as a soul from star to star, and it gathers honey as a soul gathers light' Victor Hugo, 'Ninety-Three'.
‘I believe that it is very difficult to know who we are until we understand where and when we are’ Carl Sagan
‘When one day our humankind becomes full-grown, it will not define itself as the sum total of the whole world’s inhabitants, but as the infinite unity of their mutual needs’ (Sartre)
‘Those who look for the laws of Nature in their new works collaborate with the creator’ (Gaudi)
‘This crisis exposes the basic level of unreality in the situation — the truth that almost unimaginable wealth has been generated by equally unimaginable levels of fiction, paper transactions with no concrete outcome beyond profit for traders’ Rowan Williams
'to die is indeed the lot of every human being and thus is a very mediocre art, but to be able to die well is indeed the highest wisdom of life' (Kierkegaard)
'sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better' (Ecclesiastes 7:4)
'You shall strengthen the stranger and the dweller in your midst and live with him' {Leviticus 25:35}
'absence of haphazard and conducive oneness of everything to an end are to be found in nature's works in the highest degree, and the end to which these works are put together and produced is a form of the beautiful' (Aristotle)
‘In my own work I put my whole life in jeopardy, and I have half lost my mind in the process’ Van Gogh
'as the contradiction among the features creates the harmony of the face we proclaim the oneness of the suffering and the revolt of all the peoples on all the face of the earth' (Jacques Roumain) (Picture reproduced by kind permission of Amir Zaidi)
'My purpose is that the truths be glimpsed and then again be concealed' (Maimonides)
'Who are we? We are the descendants of slaves. We are the offspring of noble men and women who were kidnapped from their native land and chained in ships like beasts. We are the heirs of a great and exploited continent known as Africa' (Martin Luther King)
'medieval culture … was the chapter of Europe’s culture when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side and, despite their intractable differences and hostilities, nourished a complex culture of tolerance' (Menocal)
‘And he waited on them under the tree as they ate’ (Genesis 18: 1-8; Koran XI: 69)
'Europe, where they were never done talking of… the welfare of man… today we know with what sufferings humanity has paid for every one of their triumphs of the mind' (Fanon)
'The meaning or lack of meaning that old age takes on in any given society puts that whole society to the test' (Simone de Beauvoir)
'The Divine Comedy is precisely the drama of the soul’s choice' (Dorothy L Sayers)
'Beethoven belongs as much to West Indians as he does to Germans, since his music is now part of the human heritage' (Edward Said)
'Such is the secret of the motions of the heavens and of their diversity, each motion strictly corresponding to the desire of a Soul' (Corbin, on Avicenna)
'And would that it might please our Creator that I were able to reveal the nature of man and his customs even as I describe his figure' (Leonardo da Vinci)
‘The greatest artistic problem is how difficult it is to get something of the Absolute into the frog pond’ (Picasso)
'what counts today, the question which is looming on the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity must reply to this question, or be shaken to pieces by it' (Fanon)
'Fish say, they have Stream and Pond/ But is there anything Beyond?/ And in that Heaven of all their wish/ There can be be no more land, say fish' (Rupert Brooke)
‘RING THE BELLS THAT STILL CAN RING FORGET YOUR PERFECT OFFERING THERE IS A CRACK, A CRACK IN EVERYTHING, THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN’ Leonard Cohen – 'ANTHEM' [Copyright © 1992 Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc.] ............ RIP Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)… the universal has yielded a part of itself…
When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing the time with me rather than I with her? (Montaigne) (Photo by Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis

Liberal Arts at the University of



‘For decades we have sustained in many ways the worst of all educational worlds: an excessive focus on transferable formalistic academic skills in conjunction with the wrong kind of subject-specific specialisation… As a result pupils are woefully lacking in general knowledge and culture, but not inducted into any specific vocation either’ (John Milbank & Adrian Pabst, (2016) The Politics of Virtue, London, Rowman & Littlefield, p. 163).

‘Seriousness is deeply agreeable to the heart’ (Leonard Cohen). 

Winchester is one of the few universities in the UK to offer a philosophical undergraduate and postgraduate education in Liberal Arts. Our BA (Hons) [Modern] Liberal Arts invites students to bring their philosophical curiosity to a range of modules covering literary, artistic, cultural, scientific and political ideas and some of the issues surrounding them. We take as our themes those that defined the original conception of liberal arts education: truth (metaphysics), nature (physis) and freedom (politics).
Undergraduate modules    History of liberal arts   The seven liberal arts   ‘What is Liberal Arts Education?’

The important philosophical questions surrounding truth (God), the universe, human freedom and equality cannot be contained within separate academic disciplines. Therefore, our Liberal Arts degrees are designed for students who want to enhance their own critical thinking with breadth and depth beyond the limits of academic subjects

It remains very popular in the USA, and is slowly finding its way again back into UK universities. It used to be an education available only to an elite within society, but this is no longer the case for a modern liberal arts programme.
International liberal arts

We endeavour to establish studious work practices in our students, finding for themselves a discipline and a freedom in work that they will take with them after university. We take seriously the idea that the best graduates, and those most valued by employers, are those who have developed for themselves a set of principles that will guide their conduct and most especially the decisions that will affect the lives of others. ‘The more one learns, the more one comes to hate the waste of time’ (Dante), and the more one comes to treasure the wealth of a developed inner life.
Teaching, learning, studying

If you love to read and talk about ideas, if you ask questions about everything, if you find pleasure in the challenge of reading and thinking, and if you like the challenge of working without subject boundaries, then explore our website and see if Liberal Arts might be the degree for you. Liberal Arts has always understood educated individuals to be those people who understand their strengths and talents, who know their passions and aspirations, and who can live true to themselves. We will play our part in developing this sense of humanity in each of our students.

‘In 2013 I was lucky to embark on a degree course that has its origins 2,500 years ago. While its ancient form was criticised for exclusivity, the Modern Liberal Arts programme, one that largely differs from that currently practised in the US, has a chequered history and incorporates the writings of those who were severely punished for heresy, were seen to have incited or partaken in revolution, and who have been either exiled or executed for advocating free thought and the questioning of convention. In sum, those among many who have contributed to the considered freedoms we have today.

This unique and holistic form of study will always, by its nature, be subversive, will always struggle, perhaps rightly in terms of proper reflection, against tides of stratified systems, the fear of change, the primacy of accepted ideas of success and suspicions against independent thought, but the hope is that one day education will embrace, at least in equal part to the currently established ‘traditional’ curriculum, the thinking space that Liberal Arts offers everyone of all ages for the contemplation of what it really means to them to be human. I will forever feel privileged to have been involved in this post-Renaissance Liberal Arts revival…’ [Sem Vine, MLA 2013-16]

‘A philosophical liberal arts education is … a human-focused education which, through broad-based and pluralistic subject matter and philosophical enquiry into the questions of human existence, can begin to nurture students with the aim of fostering a resilient and intellectually rounded graduate…

A post-foundational liberal arts education which embraces difficulty, complexity and uncertainty does not patronise students or give them false belief in the stability of the world. It is able to be fluid and adapt to the conversations which derive from the teaching and learning experience and in doing so it moves with the currents of cultural and economic instability rather than remaining fixed and stagnant. This creates a modern graduate with an understanding of the difficulty inherent in twenty-first century life (Adam Smith, MLA graduate 2017, from Educational Philosophy and Theory, forthcoming).

RIP Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)… the universal has yielded a part of itself…