Liberal Arts at the University of Winchester

A broad curriculum of ideas across subject boundaries integrated into a profound philosophical core.

If you are deeply interested in fundamental questions concerning truth in the natural and social worlds; and in the meaning of life and death for all of us; and if you desire to study and think about the most profound ideas in the Western tradition and beyond, then Liberal Arts at Winchester may well be the degree you have been looking for. It will not be easy, but then what in life that is worthwhile is easy?


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


Ancient and Modern Liberal Arts

The Ancients asked ‘What are the first principles of truth, freedom and nature?’

But the Ancients believed in slavery, in the Earth at the centre of the universe, and in the principle of absolute unchanging universal truth. An educated person in those days would have understood these to be the first principles of the natural and political universe.

Deeply profound questions remain for any modern study of liberal arts. Modern reason abhors slavery, yet is the world free? Modern science uncovers the laws of nature, yet do we understand our place in the natural universe? Modern philosophy decries absolute unchanging universal truth, yet does humanity really have no shared first principles?

In retrieving undergraduate liberal arts education for the modern age we must explore new answers to these ancient and modern questions which define the liberal arts. Today, and urgently, we must ask again, ‘What are the first principles of truth, freedom and nature in the modern world?’

Therefore, in our modern BA Liberal Arts at Winchester we take as our themes those that defined the original conception of liberal arts education: truth (metaphysics), nature (physis) and freedom (politics).

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.

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 Purgatory, III.78), and the more one comes to treasure the wealth of a developed inner life.

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.