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 philosophy's research director - Michael Scott.


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).

Emily Caddick Bourne works primarily on aesthetics, metaphysics and the philosophy of language, especially questions about the nature of fiction. With Craig Bourne, she wrote Time in Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2016) and edited the Routledge Companion to Shakespeare and Philosophy (Routledge, 2018). Some of the topics that she has been writing about recently are personification, video games and the representation of agency, narrative understanding, and fictionalism about folk psychological states.

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).  

The Knowledge of Emotion project investigated how we can know the emotional states of others. As part of this project, we investigated the visual representation of expressions of emotion.

Upcoming events can be found by visiting our events page.

PhD students

Luiz Leal works on the philosophy of music. His thesis explores the ontological and aesthetic nature of harmony.

Simon Walgenbach works on the concept of meaning in art, and the aim to provide a unified theory of it.

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.