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Unit information: Experiencing the Aesthetic in 2021/22

Unit name Experiencing the Aesthetic
Unit code AFAC20003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. Peasey
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit, while focused on the unique nature of aesthetic experience, also provides a broad introduction to the arts. The concern is with the nature, make-up and history of the arts, not in an attempt to provide full coverage, but to address issues of identity around specific instances and institutions. There will be two parts to the unit. The first considers specific methodologies for the analysis of aesthetic experience, including semiotic, phenomenological, and art historical, and introduces students to theories of aesthetics and embodiment. The second part introduces students to specific objects and aesthetic experiences, encouraging them to put the tools of analysis they have learnt into practice and begin theorising how they respond to and understand a diverse range of aesthetic encounters. Students will be introduced historical works of art and the resources through which we encounter them, for example in museums and archives, and will attend several Bristol-based events.

Unit aims:

  • To instruct students in fundamental issues surrounding the nature of art
  • To introduce students to the historical and social complexities of artistic activity, objects and institutions
  • To introduce students to a critical vocabulary and conceptual framework for the analysis of art
  • To make students more aware of the aesthetic aspects of the world around them
  • To improve skills of verbal and written presentation

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key theories and methodologies for the analysis of visual and performing arts and be able to apply these methodologies to case studies.
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the difficulties in, and attitudes to, aesthetic categorisation and analysis.
  3. Explain how central aesthetic concepts vary across disciplines and historical periods.
  4. Use the knowledge acquired in seminars and through group discussion and their own research to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject.
  5. Demonstrate skills in critical thinking and written communication appropriate to level I/5.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activites, including lectures, group discussion, written tasks and art analysis exercises. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. There will be opportunities for tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1. Review of a piece of visual or performing art using a form of analysis covered in the unit (e.g. semiotic, phenomenological, art historical). (50%, 1500 words) [ILOs 1, 4, 5].

2. One 2,500-word summative essay (50%) [ILOs 2, 3, 4, 5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. AFAC20003).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.