Liberal Arts 

(2018 Entry)

BA (Hons)

Liberal Arts at Keele is a new, exciting and innovative degree programme. It offers you an all-round education, developing knowledge and skills from a range of disciplines that are applied to local, regional and global issues.

Single Honours
Learn a language
3 years

UCAS code: Y000

View entry requirements

Course Overview

Liberal Arts is not like other degrees. Rather than focusing on one academic discipline, a Liberal Arts degree concentrates on the qualities that the student will have when they graduate. It offers a unique opportunity to develop critical and creative skills through study of a wide range of disciplines and approaches. The result is a challenging and engaging programme that contributes to the development of capable, and employable, citizen-graduates.

Liberal Arts is ideal if you’re a creative thinker, enjoy exploring new and varied subjects and want to make a difference to society. Its interdisciplinary approach to some of the world’s most pressing problems means you’ll study a wide range of subjects, including the social sciences, arts, humanities and natural sciences. Much of the programme is underpinned by innovative teaching. For example, the programme uses a ‘living labs’ approach, by which field trips engage students with local issues and their potential solutions. Students can pursue hands-on research into Britain’s industrial history and current/future-oriented issues of economic regeneration, social challenges and environmental sustainability, citizenship and creativity with opportunities for learning analytical, presentational, writing and research skills. 

What will this mean for my future?

Keele enjoys high rates of graduate employment, where in 2016, were recognised nationally as 1st for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey. When you graduate, you’ll have a wide range of transferable skills including the ability to communicate effectively, think critically and creatively, problem solve, and demonstrate empathy towards others in local and global communities. These are all highly valued by employers, and can lead to a range of career choices.

You might go into the arts, the culture and media industries, education, advertising, marketing, tourism, leisure, local and national government, humanitarian work, health and social care, or many other professions.

Indicative modules

First year

  • Understanding the World
  • Through the Liberal Arts
  • Ten Problems of Philosophy
  • Understanding Culture
  • Four elective modules from
  • Humanities and Social Sciences

Second year

  • Using Social Science to
  • Solve Problems
  • Creative Arts and Humanities
  • Four elective modules from
  • Humanities and Social Sciences

Third year

  • Independent Study Project –
  • Dissertation OR Independent Study
  • Project – Creative Project Grand
  • Challenges in Society

Five elective modules from Humanities and Social Sciences

Course structure

Our degree courses are organised into modules. Each module is usually a self-contained unit of study and each is usually assessed separately with the award of credits on the basis of 1 credit = 10 hours of student effort.  An outline of the structure of the programme is provided in the tables below.

There are three types of module delivered as part of this programme. They are:

  • Compulsory modules – a module that you are required to study on this course;
  • Optional modules – these allow you some limited choice of what to study from a list of modules;
  • Elective modules – a free choice of modules that count towards the overall credit requirement but not the number of subject-related credits.

Modules Summary

A summary of the credit requirements per year is as follows, with a minimum of 90 subject credits (compulsory plus optional) required for each year.



















Modules - Year One

Year 1 (Level 4)

Core modules


Optional modules


Understanding the World Through the
Liberal Arts


See ‘Optional Choices’ section below


Ten Problems of Philosophy

(from Philosophy Programme)



Understanding Culture

(from Media, Communications & Culture Programme)



Modules - Year Two

Year 2 (Level 5)

Core modules


Optional modules


Using Social Science to Solve Problems


See ‘Optional Choices’ section below


Creative Arts and Humanities



Modules - Year Three

Year 3 (Level 6)

Core modules


Optional modules


Independent Study Project – Dissertation


Independent Study Project - Creative


See ‘Optional Choices’ section below


Grand Challenges in Society (shared with Natural Sciences Programme)




Optional Choices and Taking a ‘Concentration’ in Liberal Arts

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences offers an extraordinarily broad range of optional modules. As illustrated above, Liberal Arts students choose optional modules to supplement the core provision in Liberal Arts. These choices are an integral part of the Liberal Arts programme.  The choices available to students cover the entire range of programmes offered by the faculty: American Studies, Creative Writing, English, Film, History, Music, Music Technology and Media, Communications & Culture; Accounting, Business, Economics, Finance, Human Resource Management, Management, Marketing; Law; International Relations, Politics and Philosophy; Criminology, Education, Sociology. It is integral to our Liberal Arts approach that students will be able to choose modules from any of these subject areas, so most modules in the faculty will be available to Liberal Arts students as optional choices. Two particular categories of optional module are identified below, just to give students some guidance when faced with an extraordinary range of choice.


i. Optional Modules recommended for Liberal Arts students.

Certain modules have been identified as particularly appropriate for Liberal Arts students. The availability of these modules will be highlighted to Liberal Arts students as part of their module choice process. Usually those chosen as programme electives reflect intellectual endeavour much in line with the approaches taken by the Liberal Arts, particularly in the case of inter-disciplinary work and engagement with current social concerns. Students are especially encouraged to focus on developing or enhancing their foreign language skills; modules at a range of competency levels are available in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish and can be integrated into each level of a Liberal Arts degree programme (see Section 12c for the opportunity to enhance degree qualifications through language study). Some examples of modules that might particularly appeal to liberal arts students are listed below.



New York, New York

New York City holds a special place in the popular imagination. Immortalised in cinema, literature, visual art and song, it continues to symbolise much that is iconic about the United States, but also to maintain a unique identity as somewhere diverse, inclusive, democratic and edgy. This module offers students a chance to explore and discuss the icons, the myths and the realities of this infamous urban space, and at the same time, through a range of texts which includes literature, film, visual art and journalism.


Power In The Modern World

This module covers models, theories, and themes that address the question of power since the French Revolution. What is power? How is it attained, maintained, and relinquished? Who has power, and for what reasons? Is it located in individuals, groups, classes, or nations? How does it change? The module seeks to examine the impact of specific historical forces, including nationalism, fascism, state building and imperialism. It also endeavours to assess different explanations for power in the past two hundred years, including gender, Marxism, and post-structuralist approaches (Foucault, Bourdieu). The module will provide students with the analytical tools to study the nature of power as it emerged in the modern period.


Making the News

This module introduces a broad range of theoretical debates and issues involved in the making of contemporary news. It examines the factors that affect what becomes news including; who owns global news corporations, organisational constraints within institutions, professional codes of practice such as news values, issues of equality and ethics in production. It then examines the impact of these factors by analysing news content and, in particular, how these play out in war reporting. The module also considers how news production and content is evolving with the development of new technologies, such as the rise of open journalism.


Teenage Dreams: Youth Subcultures in Fiction, Film and Theory

This module examines a range of theories related to the concept of subcultures, and how they relate to wider issues of class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Students look at the development of subcultural theory from the Chicago School, the Birmingham School and semiotics through to postmodern theories. This theoretical context will be discussed with respect to a range of textual representations of youth subcultures including fiction, film, fashion, pop songs and lyrics. Students explore issues related to the identification and historical development of a range of youth subcultures including teenagers, Mods, Rockers, punk, hip hop, R'n'B, and postmodern and analyse the way in which subcultures produce meaning and how they relate to concerns in mainstream culture.


Law, Science & Society

This module addresses the legal problems that form the basis of much daily media coverage. It gives students the opportunity to grapple with contemporary debates in science, including issues as diverse as the teaching of science in public schools and the role of the scientific expert in courts, the recent MMR vaccine scare and the relation between research and public health, and the controversy over the teaching of creationism under the science curriculum. The module aims to introduce the students to empirical methods of examining the law, drawing especially on techniques in anthropology and sociology.


Philosophy of Science

This course introduces students to the philosophy of science. What is science and can we distinguish science from other forms of enquiry? What are scientific theories about? Do scientists discover what there is in the world, or are scientific theories tools with which we predict and explain? Is there a scientific method, and what does it involve? How are scientific theories, models or hypotheses confirmed or rejected? What is the relationship between evidence and theory? Does science make progress? And if so, how does it progress? Is scientific enquiry free from social, political, and cultural influences? Topics which will be discussed include the nature of scientific explanation, the relationship between the sciences, probability, causation, laws of nature (and whether there are any), and the major philosophical movements in the philosophy of science of the last 150 years.


City, Culture, Society

This module provides an introduction and overview of the historical development of the urban concentrating on key approaches and perspectives and analyses of the transition to and experience of urban life in modernity. It will trace key elements and factors that distinguish characteristic features of the city and the urban and discuss the development of new forms of urbanisation in respect of post-modern debates and globalisation. It therefore links historical and extant urban issues and problems with those of wider sociological relevance such as class, gender, ethnicity, governance, social and environmental sustainability etc. to consider the contemporary experience of urban growth and expansion as well as issues of security, quality of life and opportunity.


Crime and Justice in a Global Context

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to, and looks in detail at how criminology has tried to understand the effects on crime and criminal justice of globalisation and other processes of social change associated with the coming of late modernity. The focus will be on issues and problems related to terrorism, state crimes, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.


ii. A ‘Concentration’ Discipline or Theme

Some students will choose to maintain or develop an interest in a particular discipline alongside their core modules in Liberal Arts. For students choosing to take this route through the programme, a pathway through the modules available in that ‘concentration’ subject will be identified to guarantee that students develop the relevant core skills to sustain higher levels of study in that subject. Students will be closely advised in making their module choices by a personal tutor, as module choices in the early years will do a lot to shape the options available in later years.

For example, a student might choose to focus on the subject of history in the first year of degree level study, taking ‘Historical Research and Writing’ and ‘Histories of the Extraordinary and Everyday’. These modules would provide a foundation for more advanced history modules in later years of the degree. Another example would be a student choosing to focus on the subject of politics, which would involve taking ‘Why Politics Matters’ and ‘Modern Democracies’ in the first year as the basis for progress to any of a range of politics modules in later years. Similar provision will be available in each of the programmes offered within the faculty.

Some students will prefer to follow a particular theme, rather than a discipline, in their module choices. This theme is likely to cut across disciplines. For example, students might choose to focus their choices on an issue that Keele particularly specialises, the environment. Here, the student would take core modules in the Liberal Arts but could choose to take modules in environmental politics (e.g. PIR-10047: The Politics of Sustainability), sociology (e.g. SOC-20043: Globalisation and its Discontents) and geography (e.g. ESC-10041: People and the Environment). Students choosing from our full range of provision might be interested in following themes such as the urban, globalisation, inequality, the nature of knowledge or religious belief.

For further information on the content of modules currently offered, including the list of elective modules, please