Welcome to Liberal Arts

Welcome to the BA Liberal Arts at Leeds! The Liberal Arts teaching and admin team are looking forward very much to welcoming you to Leeds in September.

As a Leeds Liberal Arts student, you will be part of a closely supported cohort, and we will work hard to ensure that you receive all the help you need both before and after arriving in Leeds.

You can find some helpful information about course structure, induction, and other matters, on this page. If you find you have any questions at this stage, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact the Liberal Arts Administrator, Azitta Baker, at LiberalArts@leeds.ac.uk and the Programme Manager, Dr Caroline Starkey, at c.starkey@leeds.ac.uk.

All the best for the remainder of the summer.

We look forward to seeing you in Leeds soon!

Dr Caroline Starkey
Director, BA in Liberal Arts

Your Course

Liberal Arts students are ‘parented’ by the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. This means that administrative support for the programme is provided from this School.

Do please drop Azitta Baker (a.m.baker@leeds.ac.uk) or the Programme Manager Dr Caroline Starkey (c.starkey@leeds.ac.uk) an email if you find you have any questions before or after arriving in Leeds!

Liberal Arts Programme Structure

Your course has the following structure. Do please get in touch with Azitta Baker if you find you have any questions about your module choices or module enrolment procedures.

Core Module

In each year you will have a compulsory Liberal Arts Core Module. In your first year, Introducing Liberal Arts (FOAH1000) will focus upon one unifying theme from the perspective of different disciplines, providing you with a clear understanding of the programme’s interdisciplinary nature. This module will also include two conferences organised and attended by Liberal Arts students, giving you an opportunity to develop intellectual and practical independence. You will also develop skills of communication appropriate to varied audiences, and reflect upon different ideals of education, including the ideals embedded in the Liberal Arts tradition.

Major Modules

Alongside your Liberal Arts Core Module, you will attend 40 credits of modules in your chosen major. This usually amounts to two 20 credit modules, one in each semester, but can vary between majors.

Topic Modules

You will also choose 60 credits of Topic modules from the following 7 Topic strands available (or 40 credits, if you are taking a 20 credit language topic):

  • Literature and Visual Arts
  • Histories and Heritage
  • The Digital World and Media
  • Performing Arts
  • Visions of Humanity
  • Politics and the Modern World
  • Contemporary Society

In your second year you will take 40 credits from the topic modules. You will usually take modules from two of the three topics you studied in your first year.

In your first year, you may choose to take 20 credits of Language modules, and if you take this pathway, you will take 40 credits of topic modules rather than 60.

Additional skills training

All Liberal Arts students will have access to the Philosophy, Religion and History of Science academic skills training. This does not form a distinct module, but is information delivered online about key issues in academic work. For example, this information will cover referencing, study skills and research techniques that can be applied throughout the different modules that you might take.

Additional course and training workshops

There are a number of additional, optional, courses and training workshops offered by the School of PRHS, by the Faculty of Arts and more widely in the University. For example, the University Library has a very useful academic skills website and provides a number of webinars on academic writing, referencing and presentation skills that you might like to make use of.

Independent learning

Becoming an independent learner is the main challenge you’ll face in making the transition from the kind of learning you may well have been used to at school, to the kind of learning you’ll be engaged in at university. But don’t worry – we’ll give you plenty of help from the outset and along the way. As a Liberal Arts student, you will also learn how to combine the perspectives of different disciplines, and again we’ll teach you the skills you need, especially in the Level 1 core module Introducing Liberal Arts.

Unlike many school pupils, at university you won’t be ‘taught to the test’. Instead you’ll develop skills that will allow you to unearth lots of information and food-for-thought for yourself. And rather than automatically accepting what other people say, you’ll learn to weigh up the pros and cons, and to decide whether or not you’re persuaded by what they say, and why. This flexible, creative approach to learning applies across University of Leeds degree programmes, and is very much emphasised within the BA Liberal Arts.

You will meet with your personal tutor in Induction week, and they will be your source of support and assistance throughout your degree programme. Your personal tutor will be a member of the Liberal Arts teaching team, and will be able to give you guidance on all aspects of the Liberal Arts programme. Your personal tutor can also help you reflect on assessment feedback, and work out how to improve your performance as an independent learner. Like other Leeds programmes, in the BA Liberal Arts, we use the Leeds for Life system to support personal tutoring.

Making the grade

Much of your work over the course of your Liberal Arts degree will be assessed by essays and exams, although you will also have the opportunity to take modules which are assessed in part by other means, such as presentations. In the Liberal Arts programme, we have used varied assessment methods, to match the very varied skills that you will acquire in the course of your studies as a Liberal Arts student. Learning how to write a good university-level essay, and how to perform well in university-level exams and other assessment tasks, takes time, and you will receive plenty of support as you develop the relevant skills.

The best way to improve your performance in essays, exams, and other assessment tasks is by seeking guidance from your module leaders when you’re preparing for the assignment in question, and by reflecting on the feedback you’ll be given once you get your marks back. You’re welcome to meet with your module leaders outside of class time to discuss what you’re thinking of writing in an assignment, to double-check your understanding of the material, or to clarify exactly what it is you’re being asked to do in a given assessment. Likewise, your module leaders are readily available to meet with you after the event, to help you understand your feedback. You are also most welcome to discuss feedback with your Liberal Arts personal tutor.

Essays and exams are typically marked on a 0-100 scale, with 40 being the pass mark. Each point on the scale indicates the quality of the piece of work in question. Marks from 40-49 fall into the ‘third class’ category (roughly, ‘poor’). 50-59 indicates the ‘lower second class’ or ‘2(2)’ category (roughly, ‘ok’). Marks from 60-69 constitute the ‘upper second class’ or ‘2(1)’ category (roughly, ‘good’). And marks of 70 or more represent the ‘first class’ category (roughly, ‘excellent’). There are detailed descriptors for each of these mark bands, so you can see what you need to do if you want to improve your performance. Your Liberal Arts personal tutors will be able to help you to reflect on your work, and to consider how you can do (even!) better.


As a Liberal Arts student at Leeds you will be introduced to a wide variety of research skills and resources. Your second year core module FOAH2001 Student Research Partnerships will help you to acquire the skills of independent research, by giving you the opportunity to work alongside an academic member of staff, on a theme of your choosing that is at the forefront of current research. You can then build on these skills when taking your final year core module FOAH3000 Independent Research Project in Liberal Arts. This module will enable you to bring together the questions you have been exploring in your major and the work you have done in your Topic modules. So the final year core module gives you an opportunity to use the skills of cross-disciplinary enquiry that you have developed in earlier years of the programme, and to integrate some of the key issues that you have been examining. And here again, you are able to follow your own enthusiasms, by choosing a theme that is of particular interest to you.