MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Intangible Cultural Heritage

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60302
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


All fieldword is subject to government guidelines.

This Semester 2 optional course provides students with both theoretical and professional knowledge and understanding of intangible heritage (also commonly called ‘cultural heritage’), across types of practices, communities and landscapes. The course provides a historical and contemporary analysis of the concept of intangible heritage and its manifestations and applications in diverse typological, cultural and geographical contexts. In particular, the course explores the interrelation between making, documenting, using, representing, curating and communicating expressions of intangible heritage within specific cultural and geographical contexts. This includes an analysis of political, governmental, social and financial factors in defining and valuing intangible heritage. The course reflects on different formats and types of intangible heritage, including festivals, performance, modes of storytelling, folklore and mythology, activism, craft, land and nature management, and technical and technological skills. The understanding of intangible heritage is deliberately broad, in order to identify commonalities and specificities across a breadth of disciplinary, organizational and professional models.


Each week focuses on a key area of practice and concept and includes student-led activities, fieldwork and professional presentations. The idea is to stimulate critical reflection, as well as enable you to acquire nuanced and contextualized knowledge and understanding of some of the key intellectual, ethical, professional and political questions posed by, and of, intangible heritage.


Available on the following programmes:

MA Heritage Studies
MA Art Gallery & Museum Studies
MA Arts Management, Policy & Practice


  • Equip students with thorough knowledge and understanding of the social, ethical, political and financial and historical contexts of intangible heritage.
  • Investigate the interrelations between making, documenting, using and communicating intangible heritage.
  • Map the development of the concept and practice of intangible heritage internationally
  • Introduce and apply key concepts in heritage theory to the critical analysis of intangible heritage.
  • Prepare students for work-based practice through the interaction with heritage professionals and the opportunity to debate critical issues in policy and practice.
  • Develop students' skills in preparing and chairing meetings, conducting debate and facilitating discussion.
  • Develop students' research and written communication skills and styles.



Week 1: Introduction to Intangible Cultural Heritage: concepts, conventions and critical analysis

Week 2: Key issues I: Communities and Groups: inclusion & exclusion

Week 3: Key issues II: Geographies of Practice

Week 4: Key issues III: Global Challenges & Safeguarding  

Week 5: Methods of Practice I: Documenting and Visual Representation

Week 6: Methods of Practice II: Curating and Festivalisation

Week 7: Case studies 

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered through a combination of:

- University-based lectures and seminars

- Individual fieldwork

- Group site visits

- Student presentations 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the field of intangible heritage and its social, ethical, political and financial contexts
  • Analyse the historical and contemporary development of intangible heritage
  • Identify and evaluate diverse approaches to the theoretical and critical analysis of intangible heritage
  • Understand the interrelations between making, documenting, using and communicating intangible heritage
  • Lead and participate in informed debate about key issues affecting intangible heritage policy and practice

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate a capacity to apply theoretical and critical concepts to the understanding and analysis of intangible heritage practice
  • Apply disciplinary knowledge and understanding to an analysis of institutional policies/practices.
  • Conduct independent research in order to produce a sustained, analytical enquiry into an aspect of intangible heritage.
  • Design, research and present empirical research, determining and implementing a reflexive and appropriate methodology
  • Apply skills and ideas learned in one institutional context to another, while remaining aware of the complexity of the issues


Practical skills

  • Identify, describe and document intangible heritage
  • Apply research methods to understand makers, users and audiences of intangible heritage
  • Collaborate effectively with fellow students
  • Prepare and deliver a short oral presentation, and respond to questions and discussions
  • Conduct effective fieldwork as part of an institutional analysis

All fieldword is subject to government guidelines.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Plan and deliver presentations, chair discussions, provide feedback.
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively in a professional, as well as an academic, environment.
  • Retrieve, select and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, including museums, archives, libraries and the Web.
  • Work effectively within a team

Employability skills

- Communicate the value and applicability of critical heritage thinking into organisational practice - Articulate clearly key challenges in intangible heritage practice - Appreciate the impact of cultural, ethnic and other contexts on intangible heritage - Manage time efficiently - Generate ideas and think laterally - Map career directions and trajectories

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeLengthWeighing within unit (if relevant)
Essay ProposalFormative800 words0%
EssaySummative3000 words100%

Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Essay Proposal surgery and written commentsFormative
Academic advisor meetingFormative


Recommended reading

- Alivizatou, M. 2012. Intangible Heritage and the Museum. New Perspectives on Cultural Preservation, Walnut Creek

- Benton, Tim. 2010. Understanding Heritage and Memory. Manchester: Manchester University Press

- Boswell, Davis and Evans, Jessica (eds). 1999. Representing the nation: a reader: histories, heritage and museums, London and New York: Routledge

- Davis, P. and M. L. Stefano. 2017. The Routledge Companion to Intangible Cultural Heritage, Oxon

- Dewhurst, C. K., P. Hall and C. Seemann (eds.), 2017. Folklife and Museums: Twenty-First Century Perspectives. London: Rowman & Littlefield

- Harrison, R. 2012. Heritage: Critical Approaches. Routledge

- Harrison, R. 2008. Understanding the Politics of Heritage. Manchester: Manchester University Press

- Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. 2004. ‘Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production’. Museum International, 56(1-2), pp.52-65.

- Lira, S., and R. Amoêda (eds.) 2010. Constructing intangible heritage. Barcelos

- Macdonald, S. 2008. Difficult Heritage: Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremberg and Beyond. Routledge

- Onciul, B. M.L. Stefano and S. Hawke (eds.), 2017. Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities, Martlesham

- Pustz, J. 2009. Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants' Lives at Historic House Museums, Northern Illinois University Press

- Rowan, Y. and U. Baram. 2005. Marketing heritage, archaeology and the consumption of the past. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

- Shen, Z. (ed) 2002. Tourism and Chinese Culture. Beijing: Tourism Education Press

- Smith, L. 2012. All Heritage is Intangible: Critical Heritage Studies and Museums, Amsterdam: Reinwardt Academy

- Smith, L. 2008. Intangible heritage, Routledge

- Smith, C., Smith, G. S., Messenger, P. and Soderland, H. (eds.)  2009. Heritage Values in Contemporary Society, Left Coast Press Inc

- Smith, L. 2009. Heritage, communities and archaeology, Duckworth

- Smith, L. 2006. Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge

- Sørensen Marie Louise Stig. 2009. Heritage Studies. Methods and Approaches, Routledge

- Stefano, Μ., P. Davis and G. Corsane (eds) 2017. Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. Boydell Press

- Taylor, K. and J. L. Lennon (eds). 2012. Managing Cultural Landscapes. London and New York: Routledge

- UNESCO. 2003. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Paris: UNESCO.

- Yoshida, K. 2004. ‘The Museum and the intangible cultural heritage’ in Museum international, 56(1-2), 108-12

- Waterton, E. 2010. Culture, heritage and representation: perspectives on visuality and the past. Ashgate

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 21
Independent study hours
Independent study 129

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jenna Ashton Unit coordinator

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