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Concepts, Principles & Practice - ARC00012M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. John Schofield
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

The module seeks to introduce students to the idea of heritage as something constructed by people in the present. We create it and then have to manage it as something for the benefit of future generations. This involves a relationship between professional practitioners and the public, all in the context of public policy and legislation. We will explore what heritage is, why it matters, how we manage and protect it, along with various controversies like whether modern values apply to the past, we can be neutral in modern conflicts over heritage and if curated decay is a viable option for heritage management. Students will be encouraged to develop their critical thinking about all these issues.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • Introduce students to the basic principles, concepts and philosophy of cultural heritage management and conservation and place these within a historical and cultural context

  • identify and understand the formal cultural heritage management process

  • introduce the notion of the multiplicity of meaning and value attributed to heritage, archaeology and the past and the consequence of this

  • identify the legislation, national policy documents and international charters and conventions that frame cultural heritage management and conservation

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

  • develop a critical understanding of the concept of heritage, the principles of cultural heritage management and their cultural and political consequences

  • critically understand the role of expertise in the mediation of conflicts over the management and meaning of heritage

  • understand the consequences of the use of expert values and knowledge in the regulation of cultural values and in the mediation of conflict

  • understand the role of legislation and public policy in cultural heritage management and conservation

  • understand the role of international charters and conventions on the practices of cultural heritage management and conservation

  • understand the inter-relationship of legislation and policy and the conservation and management process

  • understand the role of both public and private lobby/interest groups in the development of conservation and heritage policy

Module content

We will begin by exploring how we define and create heritage before looking at the values we say that it has for people today. Once we understand this then we will take a look at how heritage is managed and protected. One aspect of this that we will cover is that of modern and contemporary heritage from the 20th and 21st centuries. This will lead us into thinking about aspects of heritage that tend to be ignored in the UK, such as intangible heritage and the heritage of the future. We will also look at heritage controversies (the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol, the destruction of Palmyra in Syria and the National Trust’s managed decay at the site of Orford Ness. We will end by a consideration of heritage practice can be democratised and our role as the experts in relation to the rest of society.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback to be available within 6 weeks

Indicative reading

Fairclough, G, Harrison, R, Jameson, J Jnr and Schofield, J (eds) (2008) The heritage reader. London: Routledge.

Harrison, R (2013) Heritage: critical approaches. London: Routledge. Available at: 

Lowenthal, D (1985) The past is a foreign country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.