Accessibility statement

Art Law - LAW00038H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Emma Waring
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

This module is co-taught with the History of Art department;  students from the History of Art module HOA00043H will take part in joint seminar activities. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Art law focuses on the interaction of numerous legal disciplines in protecting, regulating and facilitating the creation, use and marketing of art. The focus of the module will be on works of fine art and/or the visual arts with some references to cultural property law.

During the module we will draw selectively on aspects of various legal areas including: property, contract, commercial, intellectual property and international law. Because the trade in art and antiquities is a global one, the module makes reference to both domestic legal principles as well as to American and international rules laid down by bodies such as UNESCO. Broadly speaking, the module will consider a variety of legal issues raised by the global trade in art, such as: regulation of artistic expression; moral rights and droit de suite; auctions; authenticity; questions of title and forgeries; cultural property; recovery of stolen art; museum acquisitions and disposals; and the repatriation of cultural objects.

The module will frequently consider contemporary art controversies as a means of examining these broader issues. Guest speakers will also be invited where relevant. Requirements for all students include: regular attendance at plenary sessions; active participation in class discussions based on pre-assigned reading; a virtual symposium and/or fieldtrip; and coursework.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Identify the main ways in which law shapes and constrains the global trade in art.
  • Explain some of the institutions and procedures involved in trading in art in the UK with an appreciation of the relevant international conventions and the international context of enforcement.
  • Analyse strategies and challenges posed by the protection of art.
  • Reflect on the functions and objectives of art law and cultural property law.
  • Synthesise and critically analyse a range of sources related to art law to develop further knowledge, construct arguments, draw conclusions supported by appropriate authority, and evaluate the merits of alternative arguments


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 80
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative feedback is provided to students via peer-to-peer learning activities on presentation format and content as well as feedback from the Module Leader on substantive coursework content as part of learning activities.

Feedback on the summative assessments are provided in the form of written comments including a summary of positive points and areas for improvement.

Feedback will be provided within the Policy Turnaround Time.

Indicative reading

  • The Story of Art - E H Gombrich (16th ed 2007)
  • Moral Rights: Principles, Practice and New Technology - Mira T Sundara Rajan (2011)
  • Barbara Hoffman, Art and Cultural Heritage: Law, policy, and practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Wojciech Kowalski, Art Treasures and War: A study on the restitution of looted cultural property, pursuant to public international law (London: Institute of Art and Law, 1998)
  • David Phillips, Exhibiting Authenticity (New York: Manchester University Press, 1997)
  • Judith Prowda, Visual Arts and the Law: A handbook for professionals (Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2012)
  • Joseph Sax, Playing Darts with a Rembrandt: Public and private rights in cultural treasures (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
  • Stephen Weil, Beauty and the Beasts: On museums, art, the law, and the market (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983)

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.