Preparatory Certificate in Art Law

This unique course will introduce overseas lawyers to the fundamental branches of English law relating to art and antiquities. The course will provide a firm grounding in these areas, enabling you to understand the principles applied to art and antiquities transactions throughout the common law world (including England, the United States of America, most of Canada, and Australia). It will introduce you to areas of law created by case law and the rule of precedent and will pay particular attention to the locating of sources of legislation and case law. Students who successfully complete the Preparatory Certificate will be qualified to undertake the Institute of Art and Law’s Diploma in Art Law.

    By the end of the course you will:

  • have an understanding of the system of precedent through case law;
  • demonstrate a firm knowledge of the principle common law concepts and statutes relating to art and antiquities transactions;
  • be equipped to undertake more specialised study in the common law field of the law of art and antiquities.

Apply now


This course is offered throughout the year on rolling admissions.


This is a distance learning course that can be completed from your location.


This course is designed for overseas lawyers practising in civil and other non-common law jurisdictions who have a particular interest in the law relating to art and antiquities. You should possess a nationally recognised legal qualification rendering you eligible for legal practice in the country in which it was obtained.

The course demands a firm grasp of the English language. You will be expected to have attained a score of 6.5 in the British Council IELTS Test or 560 in the TOEFL (or 82, depending on the test), as evidence of having reached the necessary standard of English. Alternatively, they should be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Institute of Art and Law, proof of a standard of English equivalent to the above qualifications.


The course is assessed through on-going short questions which are completed at the end of each module. There will also be three pieces of written coursework that can be completed at in your own time.


    For each module, you will receive a self-study pack. These are designed to be fully comprehensive, containing all the information necessary for successful completion of the course. Each will contain a variety of materials, including:

  • Commentary on each subject area
  • Case studies defining and illustrating the main points of law
  • Relevant statutory provisions
  • Published literature on the relevant subject area
  • A series of self-assessment questions to test understanding of the law

You will also be assigned a tutor who will oversee your progress on the course. In addition, there will be optional Saturday study forums in London (2-4 times per year) with supplementary teaching in the form of lectures and tutorials.


The cost of the course is £1,000 + VAT (total £1,200). Students who successfully complete the Preparatory Certificate and continue to the Diploma in Art Law will obtain a discount of 15% on the full cost of the Diploma in Art Law.

Note: a 5% admin charge will be added for credit card payments.


The course consists of six modules, each covering an essential area of English Law. Each module will define and explain the central concepts of the area of law at issue within the context of relevant case law and statutes. The course will highlight the relevance to transactions in art and antiquities.

English Legal System and Remedies
This module will provide an outline of the English legal system as an example of a common law system. It will explain the principle sources of English law, i.e. legislation and case law, and the relevance of these to the development of common law. It will also explore the form and ethos of the English court structure, legal procedure and the remedies available at common law.

Criminal Law
Part I of this module will explain the basic concepts common to all criminal proceedings, such as the requirement to establish both mental and physical component to crimes (the mens rea and the actus reus). Part II will explore in detail those crimes which are of direct relevance to the art and antiquities trade.

The Law of Tort
The law of Tort covers a range of civil wrongs, an understanding of which is essential to many aspects of art law, including authenticity and bailment (both of which are carefully examined in the relevant modules of the Diploma in Art Law).

The Law of Contract
This module will define and explain: the elements necessary for the formation of a contact at common law; the factors which affect the validity or legality of contracts; and the methods of discharging the contract. It will define the main parties to the transaction, the formation of the agency relationship and different types of agency; the rights and duties of the main parties; and the effect of breach of these relationships.

Sale and Supply of Goods and Auction Law
This will provide an in-depth study of common law and the statutory framework governing the sale and supply of goods in England and Wales. It will examine the terms of a contract of sale as imposed by legislation; it will also explore the actions available to parties in case of breach or non-performance of the contract.

Equity, Trusts and Charities
Integral to the Common Law system is the co-existence of two jurisdictions: Common Law and Equity. A sound understanding of the latter, particularly of ‘Equity’s baby’ – the trust – is essential to those interested in the art law domain. You will then experience the application of these principles specifically to the art world through a study of the statutory provisions in this area.

Note that nothing provided on the course should be taken as legal advice.

Apply now

To apply please download the application form. Once completed, please return the form to