Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ARCH42830: Protecting World Heritage

Department: Archaeology

ARCH42830: Protecting World Heritage

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims, broadly, to provide an advanced understanding of World Heritage, threats to its preservation and the role of UNESCO and other bodies in its protection; as well as developing methodologies for researching, addressing and presenting these threats to academic and non-academic audiences. It is open to students on the MA in International Cultural Heritage Management and the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies, as well as Masters students on other relevant programmes.
  • It has four specific aims:
  • 1. To help students develop and enrich the range of characteristics which contribute to the recognition of World Heritage, both cultural and natural, as well as the challenges to its preservation and the roles of UNESCO and other bodies in its protection;
  • 2. To provide a shared conceptual framework within students can develop and enhance their knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, principles, theories and debates relating to world heritage, with reference to a diversity of case-studies from around the world;
  • 3. To equip students with the relevant methodological skills to gather, analyse and critically evaluate data and concepts used in the discourse surrounding world heritage;
  • 4. To enable students to develop generic study and research skills appropriate to world heritage, including working as reflective practitioners, which will inform their practice throughout their Masters programmes and successive academic and/or professional working lives.


  • The module will examine the following themes:
  • Definitions of World Heritage, tangible and intangible, cultural and natural
  • A history of World Heritage protection
  • World Heritage, UNESCO, world orders and gridlocks
  • Funding, management responsibilities and legal protections
  • Methods, toolkits and participatory approaches to the mapping and recording World Heritage
  • World Heritage, laws, conventions, ethics and practice
  • World Heritage, intangible heritage, intellectual property and indigenous knowledge
  • World Heritage, nationalism, identity, conflict and dark heritage
  • World Heritage,natural disasters and climate change
  • World Heritage, urbanism and the developent of mega-infrastructure
  • Tourism and the economic impacts of World Heritage tourism
  • Development, education and the social impacts of World Heritage
  • Recording, researching and protecting World Heritage

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key approaches, concepts, debates and similarities/differences in World Heritage
  • Advanced and critical understanding of knowledge of the wider contexts (historical, cultural, social, political, economic, geographical, digital) of World Heritage
  • Advanced knowledge and critical understanding of a diverse selection of relevant research-led examples and case-studies in world heritage from around the world
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop subject-specific skills, by gathering, analysing, interpreting critically, drawing justifiable conclusions from, presenting and acknowledging advanced research information relating to world heritage
Key Skills:
  • Develop critical thinking skills, by questioning, reflecting on, defining and a debating key issues and concepts
  • Develop intellectual and professional autonomy, by undertaking advanced independent study, research and problem solving; taking responsibility for personal, professional and ethical development within academia and/or the heritage and museum sector; and responding actively to feedback
  • Develop teamwork skills, by collaboratively planning, researching, synthesizing and presenting information and arguments
  • Develop information technology skills, by using appropriate digital resources and software (e.g. online catalogues, word and image processing, databases and presentation software) to support written and oral presentations and submissions
  • Develop communication skills, by expressing information and arguments clearly and concisely, in written, visual and digital form, to broad audiences
  • Develop time management skills, by working to timetables and meeting deadlines
  • Develop reflexive practitioner skills, by reflecting on and documenting research, learning and professional practices

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching and Learning Methods
  • Pre-recorded bite-size videos (10-15 minutes) by module tutors and invited experts provide concise, accessible and interesting audiovisual presentations of key information and examples on defined themes; they enable the full cohort of students to gain a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific skills knowledge (including through asynchronous access)
  • Lecture are used to underpin the knowledge requirements of the module providing you with a sound conceptual and empirical base for further study and will follow a pre-planned syllabus and provide students with the ability to master a complex and specialised area of knowledge and/or skillset
  • Two practical exercises based in and around Durham's World Heritage Site, in which the students will work as teams collecting primary data. The first revolves around mapping and recording tangible and intangible heritage and community assets; the second involves student-led interviews with visitors, the local community and heritage professionals to build understanding of the social and economic impacts on World Heritage. Each session is preceded by a tutor-led session of methods, ethics, health and safety and expectations. It is followed by an informal debriefing session to share and disseminate team results. This provides students with the ability to operate independently, exercising appropriate judgement, in novel or complex contexts; and the ability to accept personal responsibility in relation to academic and professional codes of conduct, including an ability to evaluate and resolve any ethical dilemmas likely to arise
  • Bibliographies compiled by module tutors recommend selected, informative and thought-provoking, topic-specific readings, with an emphasis on electronically accessible resources; they enable the full cohort of students to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge
  • Posts on the discussion board uploaded by students and tutors, and moderated by module tutors, share short summaries, questions, comments and debate on the module content, including on lectures, bite-size videos, practicals, seminars, workshop presentations and on readings; they enable the full cohort of students to evaluate and refine their knowledge and critical understanding of subject-specific knowledge
  • Self-guided learning (independent study) comprises personal and group-based study, research, revision, problem-solving and evaluation associated with classes and assignments; it enables students to increase their knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge, and to gain experience and competence in the full range of subject-specific skills and key skills
  • Assessment Methods
  • Summative assessment takes the form of two essays. These ensure demonstration of the achievement of a sound knowledge and critical understanding of a range of subject-specific knowledge and skills relating to World Heritage, and the achievement of a range of key skills. Written feedback from module tutors identifies strengths and areas for future improvement. The two essays comprise:
  • Essay 1 (Term 2) comprising a 1500-word knowledgeable, critical and referenced written evaluation of published or unpublished research study on Durham's World Heritage Site (40% element weighting)
  • Essay 2 (Term 3) comprising a 3500-word knowledgeable, critical and referenced written discussion of a topic (developed by students in conjunction with tutorss) relating to protecting World Heritage. This can also include elements of heritage studies (for MA International Cultural Heritage Management students), museum studies (for MA Museum and Artefact Studies students) or conservation studies (for MA Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects) (60% element weighting)
  • Formative Assessment, accompanied by written feedback from tutors, is regarded as an integral part of the learning process. It helps learners to consolidate knowledge and understanding and to explore and develop subject-specific and key skills. A range of formative assignments therefore precede a selection of summative assignments on all modules within the programme. These relate to specific learning outcomes, as well as a few additional learning outcomes not assessed summatively. The formative assignments include:
  • An essay plan and annotated bibliography of 4-5 publications of up to 1000 words, relating to Summative Essay 2; supported by individualised written feedback
  • Ongoing feedback and additional information provided through the module discussion board
  • Feedback provided through the debriefing sessions that follow the practical sessions; student teams will prepare a short 10 minute presentation and data report to be circulated, as well as provide copies of the raw data collected. These sessions will also facilitate discussions as to what worked well, what students struggled with and how methodologies can be improved

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 Weekly 1 hour 22
Bite-size videos 22 Weekly 0.5 hours 11
Workshop/Webinar 1 One off 1 hour 1
Seminars 6 - 1 hour 6
Practical Sessions 2 - 8 hours 16
Debrief Sessions 2 - 2 hours 4
Self-guided learning (discussion board, preparation and reading) 240
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 1500 words 40% Yes
Essay 2 3500 words 60% Yes

Formative Assessment:

An essay plan and annotated bibliography, of up to 1000 words, relating to the Term 2 summative essay. 2 class presentations accompanied by a 1-page digital handout, collaboratively produced in Terms 2 and 3, on an agreed topic relating to a weekly lecture theme.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University