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Cultural heritage law: Home

Subjects: Law

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying cultural heritage law at the University of Oxford, although students and researchers from any field may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out about sources and commentary for cultural heritage law, including ebooks, ejournals, and databases.

Cultural heritage law

The term “cultural heritage” was introduced by UNESCO legislation in 1973. Cultural heritage or cultural property law (the terms are used interchangeably) regulates and protects culturally significant sites, objects, etc. UNESCO defines the term cultural heritage in several different ways :

Cultural heritage

Tangible cultural heritage:  

movable cultural heritage (paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts)
mmovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, and so on)
underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities)

Intangible cultural heritage: oral traditions, performing arts, rituals


Natural heritage: natural sites with cultural aspects such as cultural landscapes, physical, biological or geological formations

Heritage in the event of armed conflict

(Full explanation from UNESCO can be found on this page.)


Useful sites on the free web

Printed resources

Just show staff the full call numbers, and they will be happy to point you in the right directions!

Examples of shelf marks/call numbers indicating different areas within the Law Library Collection

Internat 570 for commentary from the international human rights perspective

Internat 590 international commerical law

Internat 630 may help with underwater cultural heritage questions

Private Int conflict of laws

General, KB - comparative studies across 2 or more jurisdictions

K - for the jurisdictions UK, Australia (A8), Canada (C1), Ireland (I5), New Zealand (N4), and United States (U4).

O. - Official Papers collection

Useful SOLO subject search terms to start finding commentary include

Cultural property

Cultural property -- Protection (International law)

World Heritage areas

Intangible property

Indigenous peoples -- Civil rights

Indigenous peoples -- Legal status, laws, etc;


Key library

Related Bodleian guides