Skip to main content Skip to navigation

What is Liberal Arts?

Dr Gavin Schwartz-Leeper speaking to a group of students during a workshop. Gavin is stood at the front of the room, and the students are sat at tables.

A Liberal Arts education puts critical thinking and innovative problem solving at the heart of learning. It is based on a long tradition of thinking across different disciplines to solve the most pressing challenges of the day and of the human experience. It aims to form critical global citizens who will be future leaders and independent thinkers in their own field.

By teaching you how to learn rather than what to learn, a Liberal Arts education will expose you to a broad range of knowledge, allowing you to specialise in an issue or problem that matters most to you.

Find out more about the history of Liberal Arts and different types of Liberal Arts programmes.

What makes us different?

Our degree is radically different from other Liberal Arts programmes around the world. Here you will focus on developing high-level research skills to create interventions in complex problems. You will also have the guidance of our experienced transdisciplinary academics every step of the way.

In Liberal Arts we use a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach. This is where you understand a topic by examining complex problems from a variety of perspectives. You will then develop your own distinctive stance on that problem. Our students are co-creators of knowledge in the classroom. Rather than attending formal lectures, you will spend your time in the classroom debating, framing, and presenting research questions/responses.

“A Problem-Based Learning classroom is a lively space of discussion where students conduct their own independent research, share their ideas with each other, and work together to produce a collaborative response which we then explore further with the whole class."

Dr Kirsten Harris | Associate Professor, Liberal Arts

At the end of your first year, you will choose a route or a pathway through your degree. Your route/pathway offers you flexibility when thinking about which modules fit your interests. Do you want to reinvent how we see the past? Or, are you concerned with how we build the future? Your route/pathway allows you to select modules that give you the knowledge, skills, and expertise to be a leader in your area of interest. We will work with you to guide and support your decision about which route/pathway to follow.


On a route you will spend at least 25% of your degree with one of our partner departments, developing subject-specific expertise. We have routes with the following departments: Classics, Economics, Education, English, Film and Television Studies, Global Sustainable Development, History, Life Sciences, Philosophy, and Theatre and Performance Studies.

Your route will be recognised in your degree title. For example, if you choose to study the Economics route, your degree title will be ‘Liberal Arts with Economics’. Alongside the modules directly related to your route, you can also take a selection of other optional modules from across the University linked to your interests.


On a pathway, you are free to build a flexible degree that reflects your interests. You will spend 50% of your degree studying modules related to your pathway, developing interdisciplinary expertise in your area of interest. We will work closely with you to help you design a pathway that enables you to study the areas that matter most to you.

In the past, our students have designed pathways around the following topics: Apocalyptic Studies, Black British Studies, Business Ethics, Culture and Identity, Gender and Society, Health and Human Society, Imagination in Childhood Development, Social Justice, and Sustainability.

Do you want to extend your learning and broaden your perspective by spending a year studying in another country? If so, we can empower you to study abroad at a leading university. We have partnered with world-renowned Liberal Arts programmes in Europe and Canada that share our passion for interdisciplinarity and critical thinking. Studying at one of these partners will allow you to broaden your Liberal Arts education and gain an international perspective on your own degree, preparing you for a career on the global stage. We also offer short-term opportunities, such as modules taught intensively in Venice.

This degree has been designed to develop the core professional skills that employers seek in graduates. These skills are embedded in our course content, teaching approach, and assessments. To complement this, we have created co-curricular certificates and you will also have the opportunity to engage in a range of work placements. Our department's Employability and Placement Manager is here to support you, providing one-to-one careers guidance. Find out more about the support we offer.

Our academics in the Liberal Arts Department are passionate about liberal education and are experts in a variety of subject areas. They are also specialists in research-led teaching and learning; they publish and lecture regularly on the teaching methods used here at Warwick. Our experience in transdisciplinary learning means you will have expert support at all stages of your degree.

In Liberal Arts, we encourage you to go above and beyond the level of research usually expected at undergraduate level. In the first year, we offer two methods training modules in qualitative and quantitative research. These modules set the foundations for the rest of your assessments, allowing you to use and apply different kinds of research methodologies. You will have plenty of opportunities to build on your research skills in your second-year core module, before consolidating your learning in your final-year dissertation. By your final year, you will be undertaking advanced undergraduate research.

“The International Conference of Undergraduate Research is a chance to learn in multiple senses. You present your own research in an interdisciplinary setting, and you also learn from your peers presenting. I enjoyed learning things that lay outside the disciplines I have explored in Liberal Arts.”

Ceara | Liberal Arts Graduate

Research activities

Our students take part in a range of research activities, including:

You will join our friendly, supportive, and inclusive community. We have our own departmental base and dedicated student facilities. We are committed to educational equity and providing a fair and accessible education. We value the unique combinations of experiences, interests, and perspectives that every student brings to the course.

As a student-focused department, we are keen to support ideas and initiatives led by you. In the past this has included reform to our course design and the introduction of new routes and pathways. You will have the opportunity to use your voice in the Liberal Arts Student-Staff Liaison Committee and the student-led Liberal Arts Society.

Hear what our graduates think of the Liberal Arts community at Warwick.


Our Liberal Arts course scored 100% for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2022!


of Warwick's research is world-leading or internationally excellent.

(Research Excellence Framework, 2021, the most recent UK-wide assessment)


of students on our Liberal Arts course agree with the statement 'The course is intellectually stimulating'.

(The National Student Survey 2022)