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Introduction to Heritage Studies


Admission requirements



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, how it is managed, and questions of who shapes and controls heritage and for what purpose.
The course provides an overview of fundamental concepts in heritage studies and heritage practices: 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, and difficult and traumatic pasts, among others.

The course explores these concepts and practices with reference to concrete examples of heritage issues in the contemporary world. It introduces methods and approaches in heritage research and heritage practice used to understand and investigate issues in the course, including 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

  • Understand the role of cultural heritage in social identity;

  • Identify the categories and instruments of heritage recognition and heritage as a practice and process;

  • 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;

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

  • Gain experience in academic writing, qualitative analysis, and presentation skills;

  • Gain experience in working on assignments within a team.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Tutorials;

  • Work groups;

  • Field trips.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • 14 x 2 hours of lectures (2 ec);

  • 14 x 3 hours of seminars (1,5 ec);

  • Assignments (4,5 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignment (40%);

  • Written examination (40%);

  • Participation (10%);

  • Tasks (10%).

A retake of the exam and one assignment is permitted. Compensation between exam and assignments is permitted, providing that the exam and all assignments are completed with a minimum grade of a 5.0.

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

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

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.