Aesthetics - Master's Programme in the Humanities

Academic year 2022/2023

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Philosophical aesthetics encompasses questions about the role of art in society, the nature and significance of aesthetic value, the foundations of art criticism, the appreciation of nature, and more. The Master's Programme in the Humanities, specialising in Aesthetics, aims to provide you with tools for thinking precisely and rigorously about issues and problems in a variety of domains: the arts, aesthetic experience, and culture more broadly.

Why this programme?

Aesthetics is a discipline located at the heart of the humanities. By tackling philosophical questions about art, and rigorously examining concepts such as aesthetic experience, culture, beauty, emotion, and creativity, it addresses elements of our common, shared humanity. The Master's Programme in the Humanities, specialising in Aesthetics, will offer you valuable insights into such questions, through a combination of historical perspectives, contemporary debates, and forward-looking analysis.

This programme provides unique opportunities to pursue further academic training in aesthetics. You will learn how to apply artistic and aesthetic theory to practice and develop your philosophical skills. You will thereby deepen your subject knowledge, strengthen your reasoning abilities, and improve in both writing and presentation.

During the programme you can expect to:

  • intensively study philosophical aesthetics;
  • explore neighbouring disciplines by taking elective courses at other departments;
  • take courses led by internationally recognised researchers;
  • write a dissertation examining closely a question in aesthetics.

The programme is offered by the Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University. You will be able to take advantage of the Department's many strengths in fields besides aesthetics. These include practical philosophy (including applied ethics and the philosophy of law), theoretical philosophy (including the philosophy of language and metaphysics), the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of anthropology.

The programme will provide excellent preparation if you want to continue your studies at doctoral level in Sweden or elsewhere. The programme will also give you valuable qualifications if you plan to move into the workforce after graduation.


The programme leads to a Master of Arts (120 credits) with Aesthetics as the main field of study. It is also possible to graduate after one academic year with a Master of Arts (60 credits).

All specialisations of this programme


The Master's programme in the Humanities specialising in Aesthetics is structured as a two-year programme, but you can also choose a one-year version for a lesser degree.

For the two-year programme (120 credits):
During the first semester, you will take two obligatory courses: a course on philosophical method and writing, and a course on classic texts in philosophical aesthetics (7.5 credits each). You will also take two elective courses (7.5 credits each). There will be at least two aesthetics courses on offer, but you may also take other courses in the Department of Philosophy, and also other courses within the Master's Programme in the Humanities. There may also be the opportunity to take courses in aesthetics offered at other Swedish universities. The department also offers "reading" courses if a sufficient number of students request a course focussed on a particular text.

During the second semester, you will take two elective courses, as above. You will also begin your dissertation work by participating in a preparation seminar (7.5 credits), and you will take a Master's class offered by a visiting researcher (7.5 credits).

During the third semester, you will take two elective courses, as above. You will also work on your dissertation, in consultation with your supervisor: the norm is 15 credits of thesis work in this semester.

During the fourth semester, you will focus on your dissertation work (22.5 credits); you will submit and defend the dissertation at the end of the semester. You will also take another Master's class offered by a visiting researcher (7.5 credits).

You may also complete an internship as part of the programme in place of one or two electives (corresponding to 7.5 or 15 credits). You are responsible for finding a suitable internship, but the programme coordinator will help you to plan the placement, and assess the significance of the internship for the degree.

For the one-year programme (60 credits):
During the first semester, you will take a course on philosophical method and writing (7.5 credits), two electives (7.5 credits each), and 7.5 credits of dissertation work. During the second semester, you will take 22.5 credits of dissertation work, and one master class offered by a visiting researcher (7.5 credits).

Courses within the programme

In addition to the obligatory courses, you have some freedom to plan your studies together with the programme coordinator. Below is how the course work is normally organised for a two-year Master's programme.

Semester 1
Philosophical perspectives 1 (writing and method), 7.5 credits (obligatory)
Classics of aesthetics, 7.5 credits (obligatory)
Elective courses, 15 credits in total

Semester 2
Elective courses, 15 credits in total
Dissertation preparation seminar, 7.5 credits (highly recommended)
Master class, 7.5 credits (obligatory)

Semester 3
Elective courses, 15 credits total
Thesis work, 15 credits

Semester 4
Thesis work: completion of thesis and defence, 22.5 credits
Master class, 7.5 credits (obligatory)

Learning experience

Courses usually correspond to 7.5 credits. Some courses are intensive courses (e.g. two weeks) whereas others are more spread-out over time (e.g. five weeks). Some intensive classes are offered by renowned international visiting scholars.

In general, the teaching consists of a mixture of seminars and home study. At seminars, you present your ideas and discuss the reading you have done beforehand (a course book or other reading material) with your classmates; the teacher usually only moderates the discussion. The aim is to develop critical thinking and collaborative skills. All the students are expected to be active participants in all forms of discussions.

The forms of examination vary from course to course, but tend primarily to be essays or other written assignments.

Work on the dissertation (45 credits) is carried out over several semesters. To some extent you can choose how you want to organise the essay work. Participation in a regular Master's seminar, where students present and discuss their work, is an important part of this work.

You will also be encouraged and expected to participate in departmental activities, such as the regular higher seminar in aesthetics, where senior researchers from the department and from elsewhere present and discuss their latest work.

The language of instruction is English. You can choose to write your dissertation in English or Swedish.


The Master's Programme in the Humanities, specialising in Aesthetics, provides you with a deep and diverse set of skills applicable across a variety of career paths. The supervised writing of a Master's thesis and the written course work will develop your analytical writing skills. The rigorous reasoning and writing skills are an asset in diverse careers including in the administration of cultural and arts organisations, journalism, teaching, policy analysis, and more.

The training is also highly suitable for you if you want to continue your studies at the doctoral level, either in Sweden or elsewhere in the world.

Career support
During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.


Below you will find the details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and tuition fees. For information on how to apply and what documents you need to submit, check the application guide. For this programme, besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit one programme-specific document: a statement of purpose.


120 credits

Autumn 2022, 100%, Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application deadline: 17 January 2022

Application code: UU-M5011 Application

Language of instruction: English

Academic requirements
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university. The main field of study must be within the humanities or social sciences. Also required is 60 credits in aesthetics, philosophy, musicology, literature or art history.

Language requirements
Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at

Selection: Students are selected based on:

  • an overall appraisal of previous university studies; and
  • a statement of purpose (1–2 pages).
The fit between student and department is an important factor in selection. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their interests in aesthetics in the statement. The programme is oriented towards Anglo-American philosophy, but we welcome applicants educated in other philosophical traditions or in the disciplines listed above.
Tuition fee-paying students and non-paying students are admitted on the same grounds but in different selection groups.


If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.

Application fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 50,000

Tuition fee, total: SEK 200,000

Contact and further resources


Philosophy: Pauliina Remes

+46 18 471 28 97

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Archeology

+46 18 471 20 93

Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology: Charlotta Widmark

+46 18 471 70 33

Cultural Heritage and Sustainability: Gustaf Leijonhufvud

+46 18 471 83 87

Egyptology: Andreas Dorn

+46 18 471 28 97

Aesthetics: Nicholas Wiltsher

+46 471 73 53

Gender Studies: Jenny Björklund

+46 18 471 57 96

Musicology: Mattias Lundberg

+46 18 471 15 84

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:

Faculty of Arts

Dag Hammarskjölds väg 7

Box 256, 751 05 UPPSALA

Last modified: 2022-05-13