Master's Programme in Aesthetics

120 credits

What is aesthetic value? What are the relations between art and the mind? What are the foundations of art criticism, or the roles of art in society? How should we aesthetically appreciate nature, or everyday objects, or people? The Department of Philosophy's Master's Programme in Aesthetics provides you with tools for thinking precisely and rigorously about such issues and problems in the domains of art, culture, and society.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

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. This international Master's Programme in Aesthetics will offer you valuable insights into such questions, through examination of both historical perspectives and contemporary debates.

The programme provides an excellent opportunity to pursue further academic training in philosophical aesthetics. You will be able to 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;
  • take courses led by internationally recognised researchers;
  • write a Master's thesis closely examining a question in aesthetics.

This Master's Programme in Aesthetics is offered by the Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University. The Department’s expertise in philosophical aesthetics lies mainly in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. We can only offer very limited tuition and supervision in other traditions, such as continental philosophy or critical theory. Applicants unsure of the suitability of the programme for their interests are encouraged to explore the research specialities of our staff or contact the programme director.

You will be able to take advantage of the Department's many strengths in fields besides aesthetics. These include practical philosophy (including metaethics and normative ethics), 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 the doctoral level in Sweden or elsewhere. The programme will also give you valuable qualifications if you plan to move into the workforce after graduation.

Student profile

Students in this international programme usually have backgrounds in philosophy, aesthetics, or subjects such as literature or art history. There are usually around 15 active students, representing a wide range of nationalities.


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).

The Master's programme in Aesthetics is structured as a two-year programme (Master of Arts, 120 credits), but you can also choose to pursue a one-year degree (Master of Arts, 60 credits).

Two-year programme (Master of Arts, 120 credits)

During the first semester, you will take two mandatory courses: one on philosophical method and writing, and one on classic texts in philosophical aesthetics. You will also take two elective courses of 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 apply to other courses at the university.

During the second semester, you will take three elective courses. One elective course offered will be a Master Class given by a visiting researcher. It is mandatory to take at least one Master Class during the programme, in either semester two or semester four. You will also begin work on your master's thesis, including participation in a preparation seminar.

During the third semester, you will take two elective courses. You will also do 15 credits' worth of work on your master's thesis, working with your supervisor and participating in work-in-progress seminars.

During the fourth semester, you will focus on your master's thesis. You will submit and defend the thesis at the end of the semester. You will also take one elective course of 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 director will help you to plan it.

One-year programme (Master of Arts, 60 credits)

During the first semester, you will take a course on philosophical method and writing, two electives of 7.5 credits each, and 7.5 credits of master's thesis work. During the second semester, you will take 22.5 credits of master's thesis work, and one Master Class offered by a visiting researcher.

Courses within the programme

Here is a summary of 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 (mandatory)
  • Foundational Texts of Aesthetics, 7.5 credits (mandatory)
  • Elective courses, 15 credits total

Semester 2

  • Elective courses, 22.5 credits in total, possibly including a
  • Master Class, 7.5 credits
  • Thesis work, 7.5 credits

Semester 3

  • Elective courses, 15 credits total
  • Thesis work, 15 credits

Semester 4

  • Thesis work: completion of thesis and defence, 22.5 credits
  • Elective course, 7.5 credits; must be Master Class if not taken in semester 2

Courses usually correspond to 7.5 credits. Most courses are taught over five weeks of full-time study.

In general, the teaching consists of a mixture of seminars and home study. At seminars, you discuss the assigned reading you have done beforehand with your classmates and present your own ideas; the teacher moderates the discussion and contributes their expertise and knowledge. The aim is to develop critical thinking and collaborative skills. All the students are expected to be active participants in discussions.

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

Work on the master's thesis (45 credits) is carried out over several semesters. To some extent, you can choose how you want to organise the work. Participation in a regular master's seminar, where students present and discuss their work, is an obligatory part of this work. The master's thesis work concludes with an oral defence of the written text, in which another student acts as opponent.

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 master's thesis in English or Swedish.

The Master's Programme 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 coursework will develop your analytical writing skills. The rigorous reasoning and writing skills demanded by philosophical aesthetics are an asset in diverse careers including in the administration of cultural and arts organisations, journalism, teaching, policy analysis, and more.

The programme is also highly suitable if you want to continue your studies in philosophy, aesthetics, or related disciplines at 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. Read more about UU Career.

The department provides support and guidance for students aiming to apply for PhD programmes.