Art and Cultural Heritage Law - LW583

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15)




Not available to non-law students.



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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One hour of lectures and one hour of seminars weekly.

Method of assessment

30% coursework (a case study and an essay) 70% written examination.

Indicative reading

D Gillman The Idea of Cultural Heritage (IAL 2006)
B T Hoffman Art and Cultural Heritage: Law, Policy & Practice (2006 CUP)
J Greenfield The Return of Cultural Treasures (3rd ed, CUP, 2007)
P Watson, C Todeschini The Medici Conspiracy: The illicit journey of looted antiques from Italy's tomb raiders to the world's greatest museums. (Public Affairs, 2007)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

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 trade in art and cultural objects that generate the need for regulation at a national and international level;
3. Critically discuss the legal issues relating to the regulation of cultural heritage at a national and international level;
4. 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;
5. Appreciate the scope of EU and International law and policy and their effects on UK law.

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