Discourses in Cultural Property HISTART4068

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will identify, survey and evaluate the predominant 'authorised discourse' and its impact on the acquisition, display, mobility and loans of two examples of cultural property namely the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and the Sacred Medicinal Bundles of the Kainai tribe.


Two one-hour sessions per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

The course is available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry in History of Art and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses





Essay (2,000 words) - 30%

Seminar presentation of 10 minutes - 10%

Examination (2-hour duration) - 60%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:


■ Enquire into the effect of the definitions, working definitions, meaning and scope attributed to terms denoting prominent cultural treasure and living cultural heritage;

■ Enquire into the 'rules' and the 'structures' in respect of prominent examples of cultural property and heritage;

■ Form an understanding of the interests served and suppressed by the predominant discourse of prominent examples of cultural property and heritage;

■ Encourage critical thinking about museum practice in respect of the display and loans of cultural property and cultural heritage.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ distinguish between curatorial, legal and ethical discourses pertaining to the Marbles and Native American Sacred Medicinal Bundles;

■ identify and describe the predominant curatorial and discourse(s) and the factors that constitute it;

■ evaluate how museums and curators have shaped and managed the impact and implications of 'authorised discourse' on the Marbles and the Medical Bundles;

■ formulate coherent viewpoints on the legitimacy of restitution claims made in respect of the Marbles and Medicine Bundles;

■ comprehend the implications of curatorial discourse and decisions for the movement, display and loans of cultural property, and ultimately for inter-cultural dialogue.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.