Faculty of Arts

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Personification of the Faculty of Arts (decoration of the pedestal of the statue of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor; Křižovnické Square, Prague, Czech Republic)

A Faculty of Arts is a university division specializing in teaching in areas traditionally classified as "arts" for academic purposes, generally including creative arts, writing, philosophy, and humanities. It was one of the four traditional divisions of the teaching bodies of medieval universities, the others being Law, Medicine and Theology. The Faculty of Arts was the lowest in rank, but also the largest as students had to graduate there to be admitted to one of the higher faculties.[1]

Course of study[edit]

University studies took six years for a Master of Arts degree (a Bachelor of Arts degree could be awarded along the way). The studies for this were organized by the faculty of arts, where the Seven Liberal Arts were taught: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, grammar, logic, and rhetoric.[2][3] These were divided into the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectics) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy). All instruction was given in Latin and students were expected to be able to converse in that language.[4] The trivium comprised the three subjects that were taught first: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These three subjects were the most important of the seven liberal arts for medieval students.[5] The curriculum came also to include the three Aristotelian philosophies: physics, metaphysics and moral philosophy.[5]

In the universities of continental Europe, this faculty has more often been named the equivalent of "Faculty of Philosophy" (e.g., Norwegian: Det filosofiske fakultet, Slovene: Filozofska fakulteta). Nowadays this is a common name for the faculties teaching humanities.


  1. ^ The Faculty of Arts - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  2. ^ H. Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, 3 Volumes, F.M. Powicke, A.B. Emden (Eds. of 2nd Edition), Oxford University Press, 1936.
  3. ^ G. Leff and J. North, Chapter 10: The Faculty of Arts, in A History of the University in Europe, Volume I: Universities in the Middle Ages, W. Ruegg (ed.), Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  4. ^ Rait, R.S. 1912. Life in the Medieval University, p. 133
  5. ^ a b Rait, R.S. 1912. Life in the Medieval University, p. 138

See also[edit]