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Law & Art: Parallel Perspectives - LAW00060M

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

Module summary

This module focuses on the interaction of legal and art historical issues which arise when facilitating, protecting, and regulating the creation, use and marketing of art. The module explores the difficulty of defining 'art' from a history of art and legal perspective; concepts of originality, copies and reproductions; the complex and conflicting roles of participants in the art market; and regulation of practice in the art world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The module takes a unique inter-disciplinary approach towards exploring key issues in the art world. Parallel perspectives from both the history of art and legal worlds are identified and explored in relation to foundational issues of art law. Namely, exploring the difficulties inherent in defining 'art'; analysing the competing pressures involved with notions of originality, copies and reproductions; the multiple roles played by participants in the art world; regulation of auction houses and participants in the art market; the significance of contracts and commercial practice.

Module learning outcomes

As a result of this module students will be able to:

  • Apply advanced research skills to locate and synthesise a range of artistic and legal sources to develop a deep and systematic understanding of legal and art historical perspectives on defining 'art'
  • Evaluate, applying deep conceptual understanding and with reference to advanced scholarship, the most significant legal and art historical difficulties inherent in studying art law as an academic discipline
  • Critically analyse the multiple roles played by participants in the art world
  • Critically evaluate the strategies of, and challenges posed by, the regulation of the art market and its participants
  • Analyse complex information within specified case-studies to identify and evaluate legal and art historical issues arising
  • Apply advanced problem-solving skills and synthesise a range of legal perspectives to propose evidenced, practical solutions to legal and art historical issues
  • Apply a range of personal and collaborative transferable and practical legal skills in the context of problems and debate around the parallel legal and art historical perspectives of art

Module content

Sessions in this module are co-taught by staff from both York Law School and the Department of Art History in a seminar format allowing for inter-disciplinary discussion and debate.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work, in the nature of engagement and oral contributions which will feed into the summative presentation element of the module, is embedded in the module as a result of its interactive seminar format.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative feedback will be provided to students throughout the module during seminars and lectures. Individual written summative feedback will also be provided after relevant assessments.

Feedback will be provided within the Policy Turnaround Time.

Indicative reading

Art Is Not What You Think It Is - Donald Preziosi, Claire Farago

‘The End of Art: A Philosophical Defense,’ History and Theory, vol.37, no.4 (December 1998), pp127-143 – Arthur Danto

The Brillo Box Archive: Aesthetics, Design, and Art - Michael Golec

Beauty and the Beasts: on Museums, Art, The Law, and the Market – Stephen Weil

Visual Arts and the Law – Judith Prowda

Art Law: The Guide for Collectors, Investors, Dealers and Artists – Ralph Lerner, Judith Bresler

Everyday Genius: Self-Taught Art and the Culture of Authenticity – Gary Fine

The Rise of the Artist in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance – Andrew Martindale

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.