Critical Studies is where creative practice and critical reflection intersect. These courses are a common ground for all UArts students and offer a unique forum for exchanging ideas through different critical perspectives and approaches.

Critical Studies courses connect you with other students from all fields of study to discuss how to use critical thinking and creative insight in your artistic practice. A broad range of interdisciplinary courses will develop and deepen your critical thinking skills, communication and research toolkits, and understanding of the history and criticism of creativity.

About the Curriculum

+ Critical Dialogue (9 credits required)

Critical Dialogue (CRIT) courses examine issues and topics related to arts and their relationships to cultures from a variety of perspectives. CRIT course topics introduce students to ways of reflecting critically on issues and questions central to creative endeavors and contemporary society.

+ Science (3 credits required)

Science comprises a set of courses that introduce students to scientific methodology and critical thinking. Science is the body of knowledge that represents our current understanding of natural systems and the processes whereby that knowledge has been established, continually extended, refined, and revised. The ultimate goals of these courses: to inspire curiosity about the world around us and introduce quantitative and qualitative methods of understanding that world.

Science curriculum will encompass the following courses coded as follows

+ First-Year Writing (6 credits of First-Year Writing/COMP required)

The First-Year Writing Program (COMP) will help you develop important writing, reading and research skills. Our classes challenge you to hone your ability to communicate while expanding your critical and creative thinking horizons. A simple argument shapes our classes: artists write— and artists in the 21st century need to write well. 

We believe that writing is a powerful tool for learning; participating in worlds of ideas; and staging conversations about creative visions, processes and contexts. Our courses emphasize composition as a dynamic and collaborative process of brainstorming, planning, drafting, writing and revising. This process provides a supportive framework for learning how to prioritize communication in your writing while using critical inquiry.

+ Discipline Histories (9-12 credits required – varies by School/Major)

  • Art History (AHST) in Critical Studies
  • All other courses reside in Disciplinary Schools: Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater

+ Electives (12-15 credits)

  • In Critical Studies: Languages, Philosophy (PHIL), Religion (RELI), Travel/Short Study Away, other
  • In Disciplinary Schools: Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater

Total Credits required from Critical Studies: 42

Students who complete the Critical Studies coursework will

  • think, read and write from informed, critical perspectives;

  • understand historical developments in artistic mediums and how they inform one’s creative practices;

  • explore topics in culture and society through a variety of critical lenses to form critical judgments about issues;

  • recognize the moral and ethical implications of research for issues in contemporary culture and society;

  • apply the nature and procedures of the scientific method to case studies;

  • gather information from appropriate sources, including both print and digital, and assess their reliability and relevance.

In Critical Studies, you’ll learn from active scholars and artists from a wide array of artistic disciplines and academic fields.

Click the images below to meet faculty in the Critical Studies Program.

Emily Mattingly, Director, School of Critical Studies, University of the Arts
Emily Mattingly

Osei Alleyne
Osei Alleyne

Hamilton Hall
Anna Beresin

Nancy Heller
Nancy Heller

Ben Olshin
Ben Olshin

Hamilton Hall
Imani Roach


Art History minor (15 credits)

Focus on how historical moments shape creative work and the relationships between forms, functions and cultural value systems. You’ll develop critical vocabularies about creative practices to prepare you for work in a variety of fields, including exhibitions and auctions.


Select one of the following:

Select four courses from the following:


Philosophy & Religion minor (15 credits)

Examine how beliefs and ways of understanding shape our perspectives on who we are and how creativity functions in our lives. This minor will help you develop a broad intellectual foundation that can inform your creative practices.


Select 5 courses from subjects PHIL or RELIa minimum of two courses must be completed in both subjects