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Looted Art and Restitution: History, Theory and Policy


Admission requirements

Not applicable


The looting and destruction of art works and cultural heritage in times of war is of all periods, yet never so systematically practiced as during World War II and the Nazi-regime. A large part of the stolen art is still missing. Museums are frequently faced with restitution claims. Furthermore, many museums are confronted with the aftermath of colonial collecting policies. Important sites of cultural heritage (for example in Iraq and Syria) are destroyed, and looted, in combat. In this course, we will study and discuss the following themes: 1) historical background of looting and war booty; 2) Nazi-looting during World War II; 3) the restitution of colonial objects; and 4) recent developments in restitution policy and ethics in an international context. We will discuss relevant literature on the basis of class questions and lectures by the instructor. Several guest speakers from various backgrounds (law; cultural heritage; museum sector; restitution policies) will participate in the course.

Course objectives

  • Being able to select a topic and / or object related to the looting and restitution of artworks and cultural heritage

  • Being demonstrable skilled in formulating a research question and putting together a relevant bibliography.

  • Being able to independently research an art historical topic; to critically review the relevant scholarly literature and primary sources; to present research results both in a presentation (15 mins) and a written report (c. 5000 words).

  • Research Master students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (6000 words excluding annotations and bibliography instead of 5000 words).


The timetable is available on the Master Arts and Culture website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to aply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 12 × 3 = 36 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 85 hours

  • Assignment(s): 36 hours

  • Excursions: 28 hours

  • Other components: final paper = 95 hours

Assessment method

  • Research proposal and presentation (20%)

  • Paper of 5000 words (80%)


The final grade is the average of the two grades (20% and 80% A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit consists of two parts: there is a re-sit for the paper (80%) and/or an alternative assignment (20%).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Literature

  • Assignments

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher Dr. M. Keblusek

Administrations Office Huizinga