Not available in 2022/23
LL4BT      Half Unit
Cultural Property and Heritage Law

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tatiana Flessas


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course looks at cultural property and heritage law from legal, social theoretical and practice-oriented perspectives. It provides an overview of existing and emerging cultural property and heritage legislation (domestic and international). We will be looking in particular at the development of cultural property legislation in the 20th century and emerging international cultural property and heritage initiatives under the auspices of the UN and UNESCO. Topics to be covered include the origins of cultural property law, the problems in defining cultural property and heritage, current issues and cases in repatriation and restitution of cultural objects, the National Trust and other heritage protection regimes, and intangible cultural heritage. The course also addresses the creation and management of museums and heritage sites, primarily within the UK, but also including sites in North and South America, Europe and Asia. We consider how the issues that we've identified throughout the course arise in the ongoing construction, protection, and (primarily economic) uses of heritage. Along with specialist seminars, the course includes visits to museums and contact with practising experts in the field.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay or other type of formative assessment.

Indicative reading

Neil Cookson, Archaeological Heritage Law (2000 Barry Rose); John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen, Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts (2002 Kluwer Law International); Lyndel V. Prott & P.J. O'Keefe, Law and the Cultural Heritage Vol 1 (1984 Abingdon); Lyndel V. Prott & P.J. O'Keefe, Law and the Cultural Heritage Vol 3 (1989 Butterworths); J.E. Tunbridge and G.J. Ashworth, Dissonant Heritage: the management of the past as a resource in conflict (1996 J. Wiley); Norman Palmer, Museums and the Holocaust: law, principles and practice (2000 Institute of Art and Law); John Henry Merryman, Thinking about the Elgin Marbles: critical essays on cultural property, art and law (2000 Kluwer Law International); Nick Merriman, Beyond the Glass Case: the past, the heritage and the public in Britain (1991); Jeanette Greenfield, The Return of Cultural Treasures (1989); Richard Prentice, Tourism and Heritage Attractions (1993); G.J. Ashworth and P.J. Larkham, eds. Building a New Heritage: tourism, culture, and identity (1994); Peter Mandler, The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home (1997); Patrick J O'Keefe, Trade in Antiquities: reducing destruction and theft (1997); Ismail Serageldin, Ephim Shluger, Joan Martin-Brown, eds. Historic Cities and Sacred Sites: cultural roots for urban futures (2001); Federico Mayor, Memory of the Future (1995); Peter J. Fowler, The Past in Contemporary Society: then, now (1992); David Brett, The Construction of Heritage (1996); Karl Ernest Meyer, The Plundered Past (1974).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: 26

Average class size 2021/22: 24

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills