International Cultural Heritage Law - LAWS9250

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Sophie Vigneron checkmark-circle


Cultural heritage law has developed as a distinctive legal topic in the last thirty years to regulate the widening concept of heritage which started with the protection of historical monuments in the 19th century and now includes intangible values.

This area of law considers a developing jurisprudence that involves international treaties, laws, ethics, and policy consideration relating to the heritage. Academic research now aims to identify values and principles that contribute to a fair and equitable cultural heritage policy. It addresses the essential question of the need to change the law to accommodate the specific needs of protection of cultural heritage/cultural property. It aims to give coherence to practices shaped by art dealers, collectors, museums, communities and States, as well as a complex body of rules at the intersection of civil law, property law, criminal law, public law, private international law and public international law. Those different interactions have developed a less than coherent legal framework that will be comparatively analyzed by reference to French, English and American Law.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 18
Private study hours: 182
Total study hours: 200


LLM in (Specialisation); LLM in Law; PG Diploma in (Specialisation); PG Certificate in Law. Available to postgraduate students from other schools at the convenors discretion.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

The module will be assessed by 100% coursework as follows:
Essay, no more than 5000 words (100%)

Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

• Chamberlain, Kevin, 2013. War and Cultural Heritage: Commentary on the Hague Convention 1954 and Its Two Protocols, Leicester: Institute of Art & Law.
• Chechi, Alessandro, 2014. The Settlement of International Cultural Heritage Disputes, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Forrest, Craig, 2009. International law and the protection of cultural heritage, London: Routledge
• Kono, Toshiyuki, 2010. The impact of uniform laws on the protection of cultural heritage and the preservation of cultural heritage in the 21st century, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
• Prott, Lyndel V., 2009. Witnesses to history: a compendium of documents and writings on the return of cultural objects, Paris: UNESCO.
• Stamatoudi, Irini, 2011. Cultural property law and the restitution of cultural property: a commentary to international conventions and European Union law, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
• Journals: The international journal of cultural property; Art, Antiquity and Law
• Newspaper: The Art Newspaper.

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. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the key concepts, policy issues and principles underlying cultural heritage law.
2. Engage in a sophisticated analysis of the theoretical and academic debates that underlie the substantive law of cultural heritage protection.
3. Critically evaluate the role of international and national institutions as well as other stakeholders in the protection of the cultural heritage.
4. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the practical context in which cultural heritage law operates.
5. Demonstrate a detailed appreciation of the scope of European law, international law and policies and their impact on English cultural heritage law.
6. Compare existing legal regimes of the protection of the cultural heritage in England, North America, and continental Europe.

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

1. Engage in sophisticated independent academic research, to effectively locate primary and secondary materials.
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 and provide a critical assessment of the law.
4. Recognise potential alternative solutions to particular problems and make a reasoned choice between them.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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