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violin against bookshelf wallpaper


Aesthetics has been an area of research strength at Manchester since Peter Goldieā€™s appointment to the Samuel Hall Chair in Philosophy in 2005. In the most recent Philosophical Gourmet Report, Manchester is ranked in the top 5 UK universities for aesthetics (and in the top 18 departments world-wide).

Current areas of research include the nature of artistic value, theories of art, depiction, the expression of emotion in art, theories of fiction, the ontology of art, and the philosophy of music.

We welcome expressions of interest from prospective master's and PhD students, and from postdoctoral researchers who would like to come to Manchester to work on aesthetics. Take a look at our page for prospective postgraduate researchers.

For general queries about aesthetics at Manchester, please contact Catharine Abell.


Catharine Abell focuses on the representational arts, and is especially interested in the nature of depiction, the nature of expression in the representational arts, what it is for something to be an artwork, the nature of fiction, and what styles and genres are. Catharine's publications include 'Printmaking as an Art' (Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2015), 'Genre, Interpretation and Evaluation' (Proceedings of the Aristotelean Society, 2015) and 'Art: What it Is and Why it Matters' (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2012).

Julian Dodd works primarily in the ontology of art and the philosophy of music. Having worked for a while on the ontological nature of musical works, he is now preparing a book on the notion of authenticity in the performance of works of Western classical music. He is also interested in the nature of artistic value, conceptual art, and the concept of artistic genre. Julian's publications include 'On a Proposed Test for Artistic Value' (British Journal of Aesthetics, 2014), 'Upholding Standards: A Realist Ontology of Standard Form Jazz' (Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2014) and Works of Music: An Essay in Ontology (OUP 2007).

Projects and events

Julian Dodd organized the international conference, Themes from the Work of Peter Goldie, in September, 2012. Some of the papers from this conference, together with others specially commissioned by him, have since been published as Art, Mind, and Narrative: Themes from the Work of Peter Goldie (OUP, 2016).  

Catharine Abell was co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Knowledge of Emotion, which investigated how we can know the emotional states of others. As part of this project, Catharine investigated the visual representation of expressions of emotion.

Upcoming events can be found by visiting our events page.

Recent PhD students

Philip Letts completed his PhD on the ontology of musical works in 2014. His thesis defended the proposal that works of music are properties of performances (rather than types of performance) and, since graduating, he has published in The British Journal of Aesthetics and The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.