Master's Programme in Aesthetics

120 credits

Philosophical aesthetics encompasses issues such as the nature of aesthetic value, relations between art and the mind, the foundations of art criticism, the role of art in society, and the appreciation of nature. The Department of Philosophy's Master's Programme in Aesthetics provides you with tools for thinking precisely and rigorously about issues and problems in a variety of domains: the arts, aesthetic experience, and culture.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, 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 a combination of historical perspectives, contemporary debates, and forward-looking analysis.

The 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;
  • take courses led by internationally recognised researchers;
  • write a Master's thesis examining closely a question in aesthetics.

This Master's Programme in Aesthetics 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 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 15-20 active students, representing a wide range of nationalities.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Arts (120 credits) with Aesthetics as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is possible to obtain a degree of 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 graduate after one-year (Master of Arts (60 credits).

Two-year programme, 120 credits

During the first semester, you will take two mandatory 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 apply to other courses at the university. There may also be the opportunity to take courses offered at other Swedish universities. The department also sometimes offers "reading" courses if a sufficient number of students request a course focused on a particular text.

During the second semester, you will take three elective courses. One elective course on offer will be a Master Class given by a visiting researcher. It is mandatory to take at least one Master's Class during the programme, in either semester 2 or semester 4. You will also begin your master's thesis, including participation in a preparation seminar (7.5 credits).

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

During the fourth semester, you will focus on your master's thesis (22.5 credits) and you will submit and defend the thesis at the end of the semester. You will also take one elective course, which may be a Master Class offered by a visiting researcher, as above (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 the placement and assess the significance of the internship for the degree.

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 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 (7.5 credits).

Courses within the programme

Besides the mandatory courses, you have some freedom to plan your studies together with the programme director. 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 (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
  • Master's thesis work, including master's thesis preparation seminar, 7.5 credits

Semester 3

  • Elective courses, 15 credits total
  • Master's thesis, 15 credits

Semester 4

  • Thesis work: completion of master's 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 an 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 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 for you 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. Learn more about UU Careers.

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