FAQ: Online PGCert in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime


Answers to some of the most common questions about our University of Glasgow online master’s courses.

Now that our first run of our free online course is drawing to a close (check back for another in June) quite a few of the students have been asking “what’s next?” Cultural property crime is an engrossing topic and our basic intro course just scratches the surface. There is a lot more to learn and I hope that folks who are ready for higher level study on the topic will consider enrolling in our online Postgraduate Certificate in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime (also see here) at the University of Glasgow.

We’re getting a lot of inquiries about the courses from all over the world which is very exciting and naturally the prospective students have a lot of questions. I thought it might be nice to gather the FAQs here in one place and answer them all. Prospective students, of course, can email me for any other info.

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. I’d likely be your dissertation adviser.

4. When are the courses taught?

There are three courses:

  • Antiquities Trafficking which will be taught during 11 weeks from September until November 2016 with an essay due in December
  • Art Crime which will be taught during 12 weeks from January until March 2017 with an essay due in April
  • Repatriation, Recovery, Return which will be taught during 12 weeks from May until July 2017 with an essay due in August

5. 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.

6. 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 course will have three assignments and your mark will come from them:

  • A presentation about an assigned case. This you will create slides and record a voice-over for and it is due at the end of week 6. You will also be required to peer evaluate two other presentations which will be due at the end of week 11.
  • A ‘digital artefact’ related to the course. This is your opportunity to create something that is either meaningful to your current position or can be part of an employment portfolio. Options include an infographic, an information pamphlet or poster, an interactive time line, a professional blog entry, etc. etc. The sky’s the limit really. The goal is that you make a solid, shareable digital thing about this topic. This is due at the end of week 11.
  • A 4500-word academic essay. The bulk of your mark. Topic guidance will be provided. This is due two weeks after the end of lectures.

7. Do I have to buy books? How will I access the readings?

You don’t have to buy anything! I 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. All of them! I suggest you download the heck out of them. The library will show you how. You will not be lacking for access.

8. Do I need special technology to do this course?

No. Well, nothing that you’ll have to buy. We’ll provide anything you need software-wise and yes you’ll be able to use both Mac and Windows. Maybe Linux too but don’t hold your breath there :). You may wish to buy headphones and a mic for discussion but that is up to you. Not needed.

9. Will I get a Glasgow email address? Student ID?

Yes, you’ll get a Uni Glasgow email address but I warn you, it isn’t pretty. All of our Master’s students (even on-site ones) get an email address that is formatted like “stringofrandomnumbers@student.gla.ac.uk”. That said, it’s enough to get you student discounts galore: everything from Mac products to Amazon Prime. So there you go.

As for the student ID…yikes. Yes you SHOULD get one. You should. You’re a Uni Glasgow student. But I am not 100% sure how that is meant to play out. I’ll ask about it. That, of course, means in-person student discount stuff.

10. How much does this cost? Are there scholarships or student aid?

It costs £1111 per course so £3333 for the whole PGCert. Same rate for everyone, both Home/EU students and international students. It’s a pretty good deal I think. A spectacular deal for anyone coming from the US, for example, who’d usually pay three times that for a master’s course. The money goes to pay my meager wages and the even more meager wages of my teaching assistants, as well as all the other stuff putting on an online course entails.

Are there scholarships? None that we have. Welcome to the reality of higher education at this point. Students are invited and encouraged to find their own funding sources for the PGCert and I am happy to sign off on applications etc, but we have nothing internal. I wish it were different. That said, again, the programme is designed to be doable by a full time worker and to be affordable. Admissions are even willing to set up payment plans, etc. Contact them.

11. Who is teaching the courses?

Me! With some visitors at time I hope. You can watch some of my recent antiquities and art crime Q&A sessions on YouTube to see my style and decide if you can stand my lectures :)

12.Will there be one-on-one guidance?

I’ll have 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.

13. Will this PGCert help me professionally?

Only you can answer that. That said, part of my 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. I think there are a lot of interesting ways to use the PGCert and I am happy to brain storm with you all.

14. Does my non-UK degree meet the requirements for admission?

The formal requirements are listed here without a lot of guidance on conversion. Never fear, our admissions office deals with that question all the time, every day. Don’t hesitate to contact them to ask…but do contact them about it and not me. I actually have no say in admissions so you will need to liaise with them. The answer is probably yes, provided you did fine in your degree. They will be taking professional experience into account as well. Don’t worry.

15. 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. About a quarter of our current students are not native English speakers and they’ve done great by the way!

16. When is the application deadline?

It’s 22 July for international students and 26 August for UK/EU students. See here. But note that the University of Glasgow has no application fee so, really, why wait?

17. Where do I sign up?