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Introduction to Heritage Studies



Bachelor year 1.


This course is an introduction to the themes and methods of critical heritage studies as an interdisciplinary field of study. It introduces what cultural heritage is and questions of who shapes and controls heritage and for what purpose.
The course explores the fundamental concepts in heritage studies and heritage practices: culture and culture change, social identity and heritage, community and participation, preservation and conservation, value and authenticity, instruments of heritage recognition and inscription, nature, culture and intangible heritage, universalism, colonialism, nationalism and the nation-state, collective memory, indigenous peoples, human rights, difficult and traumatic pasts, ownership, among others.

The course explores these concepts and practices with reference to concrete examples of heritage issues in the contemporary world. The course also introduces methods and approaches in heritage research and heritage practice, which are used to understand and investigate the concepts and issues in the course. These methods and approaches include: research into heritage charters, legal instruments and other primary sources in combination with bibliographic research; community participation and related research with communities; approaches to interpretation, collections and museum research; analysing media and heritage.

Course objectives

  • To understand the role of cultural heritage in social identity;

  • Ability to identify the categories and instruments of heritage recognition and heritage as a practice and process;

  • To understand the course concepts in heritage studies and how to apply them;

  • Demonstrate the relationship between heritage and contemporary and global challenges through the topics, themes and issues in the course;

  • Ability to reflect on the role of historical and social context in contemporary problems related to cultural heritage and describe how they are approached and managed.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Tutorials;

  • Work groups;

  • Field trips.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14x2 hours of lectures, including notes (2 ec);

  • 14x3 hours of seminars (1.5 ec);

  • Assignments (4.5 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignments (50%);

  • Exam (50%).

There is only a retake of the written exam, and only if all requirements of the assignments have been met.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 examination schedule.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. I.R. (Ian) Simpson.


Compulsory attendance.