Accessibility statement

World Archaeology I:  The Invention of World Heritage


Module Leader: Lu Cooke


The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention is the most successful international charter with 192 states signature to the convention. The 1972 Convention was created in an era of internationalisation and all continents and all time periods are now represented on the list via cultural, natural or joint heritage sites. Since its inception nomination of sites to the list has taken on a political and economic dimension where state parties are involved in the creation of national and international heritage. The management of World Heritage Sites in the 21st century must now respond to a broader range of issues relating to the representativeness of the list and issues relating to climate and tourism. Each lecture of this module explores examples of different world heritage sites exploring the various themes and issues posed by the ‘invention’ of World Heritage. 


The Invention of World Heritage module will provide students with the opportunity to explore the debates and issues posed by the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Students will critically examine the issues associated with the nomination and management of heritage sites at a global scale in the 21st century. The thematic lectures will provide an introduction to the World Heritage list, and explore the issues surrounding the nomination, creation and management of World Heritage Sites. Case studies will be used to highlight the ways in which the World Heritage Convention is implemented and to critically reflect on the issues posed. Students will explore and assess the advantages and disadvantages of the World Heritage Convention within the growing body of work relating to critical heritage studies.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module the students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a broad and comparative knowledge of World Heritage sites around the world.
  • Discuss and explain the principal themes created and issues posed through the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the organisations involved in its implementation and the creation and maintenance of World Heritage.
  • Critically appraise an international convention and understand the limitations of categorising and managing heritage at a global scale.


The World Archaeology modules provide a range of important employability skills including:

  • Self management: because this is a lecture course students need to manage their time carefully, spending time reading the literature suggested for each topic; this will help when writing the essay
  • Communication: students need to develop their written communication skills in this module - writing a clear argument based on evidence from the reading is key to the assessment, and students have chance to practice this in their formative work
  • Problem solving: students need to be able to retrieve, analyse and evaluate information from different sources
  • Social, cultural and global awareness: students will gain knowledge of cultures and customs in other countries and should appreciate the diversity of issues