Liberal Arts BA (Hons)

On our Liberal Arts degree modules integrate areas of study including content and perspectives from philosophy, natural sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.

(Please note this is an indicative list: not all modules may be available)

Year 1

In year 1 of our modern Liberal Arts degree we explore the origin of the liberal arts in Antiquity. Along the way we take in philosophy, science, music, astronomy and politics. Through reading some of the key texts of the period—those by Plato (Socrates), Aristotle, Hypatia, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and others—we come to understand the culture in which the liberal arts were first conceived, and the ways they have shaped western thinking up to and including the Islamic and European Renaissances. Year 1 also includes modules that introduce students to ‘the arts’, and to ways in which some of the themes are represented in modern film.

Year 2

In year 2 the reading of primary texts continues. Here we move from the ancient and medieval worlds to the modern world of enlightenment, revolution, spirit, religion, capitalism, Holocaust, feminism, and various modern forms of instrumentalism, including bureaucracy and objectivism, using teaching and education as an example. Students also have the opportunity to explore Buddhist, Confucian and Sufist ideas as expressed in poetry, prose, dialogue and music. By the end of year 2 we will have come to understand the world, among other things, through the wonders of quantum physics and the controversial ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, and to have seen the rise and fall of western conceptions of morality and the soul. We will also begin to think about planning for the dissertation that is written in the third year.

Year 3

In year 3 once again, careful reading of primary texts by specific theorists, writers, and artists helps to develop a detailed understanding of important contemporary themes and issues, including within ecology and technology. In essays and in the dissertation at the end of the degree we hope the student’s voice will emerge better informed, clearer and stronger, and able to speak with both breadth and depth, and with greater knowledge and understanding. We also endeavour to look backwards and forwards. What is the state of liberal arts in modern times and what if any of its founding principles are still held to be true? Is there a different kind of liberal arts beginning to emerge out of the ancient ruins of liberal arts? Most importantly, what can liberal arts graduates take with them now from their higher education into the wider world of work, leisure and relationships? Along the way our modules explore freedom, truth, nature, life and death, and forms of prejudice including those relating to women, to people of colour, and to the very shape of critical thinking. Our final question for our soon-to-be graduates is, ‘is the examined life still worth living?’

To see a full list of programme modules click here.