PGCert Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime (Online)

Part-time, distance-learning, master’s level courses leading to a Postgraduate Certificate


This programme delves into the seed grey market for looted and stolen cultural objects. By combining cutting edge research from the fields of criminology, archaeology, art history, heritage studies, and law, via discussion of compelling case studies, this course will allow you to explore the criminal networks that function in the area of art crime and what can be done to protect our past and our culture for the future.

We are looking forward to going beyond the traditional confines of the classroom to deliver a suit of courses that are both interesting and relevant to students and professionals in a number of art and antiquities related fields.

Programme structure

This programme is taught entirely online through pre-recorded lectures and optional real-time seminars. This allows distance learners maximum flexibility while maintaining the high level of instructor and peer interaction needed to explore such challenging topics.

The PGCert is divided into three courses and takes 12 months of part-time study (1.5 hours lecture, 1 hour live seminar each week):

1. Antiquities Trafficking (20 credits; 11 sessions); scheduled for Sep–Nov

The looting of archaeological sites and the transnational illicit trafficking of cultural property is closely tied to such pressing issues as conflict, post conflict, globalisation, development, social justice, politics, and identity . Criminologically, antiquities trafficking is associated with transnational criminal networks, organised crime, white collar crime, and crimes of the powerful. Structured around the three basic links on the antiquities trafficking chain (source, transit, and market) this module steps beyond the simple narrative of antiquities protection and return, and delves into these pertinent issues combining archaeological and criminological methods and theories to come to a better understanding of this illicit trade.

2. Art Crime (20 credits; 11 sessions); scheduled for Jan–Mar

Because art is treasured it attracts a host of criminal activity. Beyond the fictionalised art heists made famous in film and literature, the monetary and social value of art inspires many types of Art Crime. In this module students will learn the difference between the fictional ideal of art crime and the gritty reality. We will explore four types of art crime: theft/heists, financial art crime, fakes and forgeries, and political art crimes. Students will learn the financial motivations for such crimes, what factors make them possible, how they relate to other types of crime (e.g. organised crime, white collar crime, financial crime), and how art crime is prevented.

3. Repatriation, Recovery, Return (20 credits; 11 sessions); scheduled for May–Jul

Museums, collectors, and any entity housing a collection of cultural objects must contend with the sins of the past. Changes in societal morals and legislation mandate the return of cultural objects acquired through colonialism, forced sale, looting, theft, and other ethically dubious situations. However, return is rarely straightforward; the process challenges the fundamental role of museums as the repository for the cultural outputs of humanity. In this course students will learn the main arguments for and against the repatriation of cultural property to countries of origin, Indigenous groups, or heirs. These arguments will be approached from a legal, a financial, a social, and a moral perspective. In particular, the course will focus on the issues involved in the restitution of Holocaust art to heirs, the return of Native American human remains to descendants, and repatriation of controversial looted antiquities, such as the Elgin Marbles, to their countries of origin.

Note that students who do not wish to earn the full PGCert are welcome to enrol in one or two courses.

Is it right for me?

This programme complements careers in the museums and heritage sector, in law enforcement and security, in related fields of law, in fine art and provenance research, and should qualify students to proceed to a full masters degree in archaeology, heritage studies, museums studies, art history, criminology or other related discipline. It is perfect for students who:

  • want to ‘top up’ their prior degrees or professional experience with specialised study on this topic
  • seek a flexible programme that can be undertaken alongside work or other obligations
  • would like to take several postgraduate level modules before committing to a full master’s programme
  • who are seeking to develop PhD research topics in this subject area
  • are interested in this topic and seek a stimulating and supportive medium through which to explore it

Students on this programme come from all over the world and have a variety of backgrounds and goals. From recent graduates to current PhD students, from law enforcement officers to auction house workers, lawyers, journalists, artists, archaeologists, and more.

To apply, you should have a 2.1 honours degree or equivalent (e.g. a 3.0 GPA) in archaeology, criminology, art history, museum studies, sociology, anthropology, law, politics or fine art, however we accept applications from students from all disciplines as well as security and museum practitioners and professionals. If you have any question about meeting these requirements, do not hesitate to contact us about it.

Dates and Workload

The programme starts during the second week of September with lectures starting the third week of September.

The courses are be taught entirely online, with both lecture and seminar elements. The lectures are be pre-recorded for students to watch when convenient. The seminars are group online discussion sessions scheduled for two convenient times during the week. Seminar attendance is optional but encouraged. The goal is maximum flexibility with regard to time zone and other obligations.

Students will complete an essay of up to 4,000 words for each module. Beyond virtual classroom discussion, the instructor will have weekly virtual office hours for further student guidance.

Teaching Team

The programme coordinator of the PGCert is Dr Donna Yates, a Lecturer in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Yates is supported by Teaching Assistants from the University of Glasgow.

Tuition Fees

Tuition Fees for 2019/20 are currently being decided. It is anticipated that, in line with other University of Glasgow programmes, there will be a discount for Home/EU students. Further details will be posted here soon.


For more information about the course contents and focus, please contact Dr Donna Yates.

For information about the admissions process, please contact the University of Glasgow’s Postgraduate Admissions Office.


1. What is a Postgraduate Certificate?
Wikipedia says that a PGCert is “the credential awarded to an individual upon completion of a higher education postgraduate program designed to provide students with specialized knowledge that is at the master’s level but less extensive than a postgraduate diploma or master’s degree” and that is what it is! Our PGCert is 1/3 of a University of Glasgow Master’s degree specifically focused on antiquities and art crime. It consists of three full master’s level courses; three more courses plus a dissertation would be a full degree. The idea is to focus in on this very clear topic of study.

2. Is the PGCert credentialed/accredited?
Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: I can understand why you’d be worried, what with the state of higher education play in parts of the world. But no, this is a real postgraduate credential and the University of Glasgow, a top research institution which is the 4th oldest in the English-speaking world, has been accredited via a papal bull in the mid 1400s. These are our normal courses that we use on several of our full, on-site master’s degrees, just as a focused offering. Plus it is illegal in the UK to offer a non-accredited degree.

3. If I complete the PGCert can I then go on to complete a full Master’s degree?
Yep, and you’ll be 1/3 of the way done. The PGCert courses are formally part of our master’s degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice (Sociology) and Collecting and Provenance in an International Context (Art History) and they are informally part of master’s degrees in Archaeology, Museum Studies, International Relations, etc. High marks on the PGCert would put you in a good place for acceptance on to the full master’s degree programmes and in both of the programmes which are formally associated with the PGCert you can focus your studies on issues related to antiquities and art crime and write your dissertation on the topic.

Note: this pathway only works for UK/EU citizens or those with right to remain in the UK. If you are not a UK/EU citizen, you can still continue on to a full master’s degree at Glasgow, you are just required to take a full course load and you can’t “top up”.

4. Do I have to be online at a certain time each week?
No. The course is designed to allow people with other commitments or people in different time zones to participate. Each week, students will have access to a 1 to 1.5 hour lecture and presentation which they can watch at a convenient time for them. They will then have the option to attend one or both of two live seminar sessions to participate in guided group discussion of the lecture topic. I’ll be scheduling the sessions based on enrolled student availability, but they are optional. I only ask that you re-watch one or both of them each week if you can’t make them live.

5. What’s the work load?
These are master’s courses and the work load is at a postgraduate level. This means that you will primarily be responsible for readings each week. How much of the readings you choose to do each week is up to you but, of course, the more you read the better your essay and assignments and the better your mark. Each module will have only one assignment, in line with other Glasgow programmes, and your mark will be your results from that assignment: a 4000-word academic essay. Topic guidance will be provided. This is due a few weeks after the end of lectures.

6. Do I have to buy books? How will I access the readings?
You don’t have to buy anything! We will provide PDFs of all of the ‘required readings’ and any of the ‘suggested readings’ that aren’t complete books. I will also provide you with articles and chapters to aid in your essays and assignments.

Even better than that, as University of Glasgow students you get a University Library login which means that the entire universe of pay-walled academic papers and book chapters that are online are available to you.

7. Do I need special technology to do this course?
No. Provided you have a working computer (Mac, PC, Linux, etc.) and an internet connection, you should be able to access all materials for this course.

8. Will I get a Glasgow email address? Student ID?
Yes, you’ll get a Uni Glasgow email address All of our Master’s students (even on-site ones) get an email address that is formatted like “”.

You will also receive a student ID, but do remember to request it from the registrar’s office at the start of term.

9. Are there scholarships or student aid?
The University of Glasgow does not offer scholarships for the PGCert. Students are invited and encouraged to find their own funding sources for the programme and we are happy to support those applications as needed. The programme is designed to be doable by a full time worker.

10.Will there be one-on-one guidance?
There are virtual office hours every week and any student can book a one-on-one appointment just like any other Glasgow master’s student. We’ll meet via Skype or equivalent.

11. Will this PGCert help me professionally?
Only you can answer that. That said, part of our role is to help you think about your future and what options are there for you. It is something we can talk about before, during, and after the PGCert. There are many interesting ways to use the PGCert and we are happy to brainstorm with you all.

12. Does my non-UK degree meet the requirements for admission?
Our admissions office deals with such questions all the time, every day. Don’t hesitate to contact them to ask.

13. What are the English Language requirements
Rather high. Just as high or higher than some of our in-person programmes. See here for specifics. No there are no exceptions. You’re expected to engage in very high level reading, discussion, and writing on this course, like on any other postgraduate programme, and your language needs to be up to scratch to succeed.

14. When is the application deadline?
Applications are due before the end of August. However, this programme has a limited number of spaces and we will stop accepting applications when those spaces are filled. Note that the University of Glasgow has no application fee.