Art and Cultural Heritage Law - LAWS5830

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This area of law considers a developing jurisprudence that involves international treaties, laws, ethics, and policy considerations relating to the art market and cultural heritage. This module aims to define art and cultural heritage/cultural property; to identify the need for national and international regulation of the art trade (theft, illegal export, trafficking) both in time of peace and in time of war as well as the issue of restitution of wrongfully displaced objects. It will also explore areas of the art trade that need regulation such as consumer protection (fakes and forgeries); the role of experts (opinion and liability), artists (his rights, his freedom and his life), dealers (auction houses and private dealers), and museums (role and collection management) in the trade. Finally, the module addresses the essential question of the need to change the law to accommodate the specific needs of protection of cultural heritage and it aims to give coherence to a complex body of rules at the intersection of civil law, property law, criminal law, public law, private international law and public international law.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 39
Private study hours: 261
Total study hours: 300


All single and joint honours law programmes

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
The module will be assessed by coursework (60%) and exam (40%):
Case Study, 1,500 words (15%)
Case note, 1,500 words (15%)
Essay or Problem Question, 2000 words (30%)
Exam, 2 hours (40%)

Reassessment methods

Indicative reading

• Art, Antiquity and Law
• International Journal of Cultural Policy
• International Journal of Cultural Property

Authored works
• Blake J, International cultural heritage law (Cultural Heritage Law and Policy, Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press 2015)
• Forrest C., International Law and the Protection of Cultural Heritage (2010, Routledge)
• Francioni F. (ed), Enforcing International Cultural Heritage Law (2013, OUP)
• D. Gillman, The Idea of Cultural Heritage (2010, CUP)
• J. Merryman (ed), Imperialism, Art and Restitution (2006, CUP)
• A. Vrdoljak, International Law, Museums and The Return Of Cultural Objects (2006, CUP)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Analyse key aspects of the historical and social regulation of art and cultural heritage within society;
2. Critically explore the aspects of the legal and illegal trade in art and cultural objects that generate the need for regulation at a national and international level;
3. Critically explore the need to return, restitute or repatriate cultural objects that were illegally acquired in time of colonisation and/or war
4. Critically discuss the legal issues relating to the regulation of cultural heritage at a national and international level;
5. Demonstrate their conceptual understanding of legal concepts and procedures in relation to the regulation of the art market and cultural heritage in order to devise and sustain an independent argument;
6. Appreciate the scope of EU and International law and policy and their effects on UK law.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Effectively locate primary and secondary legislation at national and international level and apply it to intricate policy and legal issues;
2. Critically evaluate an area of law both doctrinally and in terms of its historical and social consequences;
3. Effectively apply knowledge to analyse complex issues;
4. Recognise potential alternative solutions to particular issues and make a reasoned choice between them;
5. Formulate and sustain a complex argument, supporting it with appropriate evidence.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.