• Course Delivery
  • Tuition
  • Duration
    3 Weeks


Delve into the seedy underbelly of the art world, looking at smuggling, theft, fakes and fraud. In recent years, the devastation caused by the theft of art and trafficking of antiquities has gained public attention. Confronted with images of vandals smashing museum pieces with sledge hammers in Iraq, the pockmarked lunar landscapes of looted archaeological sites in Syria and Peru, the freshly decapitated Buddhist sculptures in Cambodia, the empty frames of stolen paintings on museum walls, and the unravelling of communities at the loss of living representations of their gods from temples in South Asia and Latin America. We face a difficult question. How do we protect our heritage from theft, illegal sale, and destruction?

Explore the world of art crime and antiquities trafficking with this online course, and get answers from those fighting to save the worlds precious artefacts. Who owns the past? Who owns art? Who owns culture? Using tools from criminology, art history, archaeology, law, anthropology, and more, you can explore case studies in antiquity smuggling and art crime from around the world. Learn what can be done to help solve this global problem.


  • On successful completion this course, you will be able to:
  • Engage with the key differences between illegal art/antiquities and why these differences are significant.
  • Explore criminological and sociological ideas to better understand aspects of art crime, antiquities trafficking and cultural property recovery.
  • Identify the primary stakeholders in the antiquities trafficking, art crime, and repatriation spheres and how their motivations compare and contrast.
  • Develop informed opinions about the key social, political, legal and moral issues associated with antiquities trafficking, art crime an the return of cultural objects.


  • Learn how context at archaeological sites is lost through looting.
  • Explore the source of antiquities on the illicit market as it relates to poverty.
  • Consider how antiquities trafficking can be considered a form of organized crime.
  • Think about how the market for antiquities influences both looting and smuggling.
  • Learn why art has value, and how value relates to art crime.
  • Consider the realities and limitations of art theft.
  • Explore several cases of art forgery and how experts detect fakes.
  • Think about the different types of art vandalism, and consider if vandalism itself can be art.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons of returning cultural objects to their country of origin.
  • Consider the social, emotional and ethical reasons why objects might be repatriated.
  • Debate a major ongoing antiquities return case. 

Key Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date
8 Oct 2019
8 Oct 2019

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