Interdisciplinary Curriculum

The interdisciplinary curriculum of our Liberal Arts degree integrates areas of study from across philosophy, natural sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.

In Ancient Greece, ‘there was no limitation as to the subjects on which a learned man would be allowed by other learned men to give his opinion. It was still agreed that the true subject was essentially one, and that important conclusions reached about any part of it could, and as a rule would, bear on almost every other part. The idea of delimitation in water-tight compartments had not yet sprung up …

It seems plain and self-evident, yet it needs to be said: the isolated knowledge obtained by a group of specialists in a narrow field has in itself no value whatsoever, but only in its synthesis with all the rest of knowledge and only inasmuch as it really contributes in this synthesis something toward answering the demand ‘who are we?’

Erwin Schrödinger, ‘Nature and the Greeks’ and ‘Science and Humanism’

Year 1

In year 1 of our Liberal Arts degree we explore the origin of the liberal arts in Antiquity and the European Renaissance. Along the way we take in philosophy, science, music, astronomy, rhetoric (spoken word), education, tragedy, literature (Dante, Milton, Shakespeare), and politics. Through reading some of the key texts of the periods—those by Plato (Socrates), Aristotle, Hypatia, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Euclid, and then Petrarch, Machiavelli, Erasmus, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Copernicus, and others including Stephen Hawking—we come to understand the cultures in which the liberal arts were first conceived, and the ways they continued to shape western thinking up to and including the Islamic and European Renaissances. Year 1 also includes modules that introduce students to ‘the arts’, and to ways in which some of the major themes of liberal arts are represented in modern film.  

Example of a week in the first year

Year 2

In year 2 the reading of primary texts continues. Here we move from the ancient and medieval worlds to the modern social, political, spiritual, and philosophical worlds of slavery and enlightenment, revolution, religion, capitalism and communism, Holocaust (Shoah), feminism, and various modern forms of instrumentalism, including bureaucracy and objectivism in life in genenral, and in teaching and education in particular. Students also have the opportunity to explore Buddhist, Confucian and Sufist ideas as expressed in poetry, prose, dialogue and music, and to take a module from across the range of Value Studies. By the end of year 2 we will have begun to understand the world, among other things, through the wonders of quantum physics and the controversial ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche on the ‘death of God’, and to have seen the rise and fall of western conceptions of morality and the soul. We will also begin to think about planning for the dissertation that is written in the third year.  

Example of a week in the second year

Year 3

In year 3 once again, careful reading of primary texts by specific theorists, writers, and artists helps to develop a detailed understanding of important contemporary themes and issues, including within ecology and technology. In essays and in the dissertation at the end of the degree the student will display a voice that is strong and clear, informed by thoughtful engagement with the latest research, able to speak with both breadth and depth and with greater knowledge and understanding. We also endeavour to look backwards and forwards. What is the state of liberal arts in modern times and what if any of its founding principles are still held to be true? Is there a different kind of liberal arts beginning to emerge out of the ancient ruins of liberal arts? Most importantly, what can liberal arts graduates take with them now from their higher education into the wider world of work, leisure and relationships? Along the way our third year modules explore freedom, truth, nature, life and death, and forms of prejudice including those relating to women, to people of colour, and to the very shape of critical thinking. Our final question for our soon-to-be graduates is, ‘is the examined life still worth living?’  

Example of a week from the third year

Liberal Arts: an interdisciplinary curriculum gallery

Over the three years of the programme the interdisciplinary curriculum includes material and research from the following subjects

SociologyRace (Politics)Post Truth Culture
HistorySociologyGender (Politics)
ArtHistoryClimate Change
TragedyEastern LiteratureTechnology
CosmologyClassical CivilisationHuman Nature

And within these subjects we explore ideas including

GodMiddle AgesRhetoricAlienationCosmosArchitecturePedagogy
IdentityThe RenaissancePoetryCommoditiesRelativityPaintingTeaching
ConsciousnessThe ReformationLiberal ArtsSurveillanceClassicalPerformanceLearning
MoralityThe EnlightenmentHumanismObjectificationQuantumLiteratureStudying
EqualityAbbasid CaliphateComedyPowerTechnologyMusicSoul/Intellect
FreedomThe Holocaust (Shoah)PaideiaPrejudiceAtomicStoryEmbodiment
NatureMiddle AgesAthens & RomePovertyClimate ChangeTheatreMimesis
ReligionsFrench RevolutionBarbarians & OthersPost-modernismExtinctionCreativityRecollection