Cultural Heritage Law - LW925

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 7 20 (10) DR S 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.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

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


Spring Term

Method of assessment

Essay, no more than 5000 words (100%)

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

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.


Stage 1


  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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