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Study information

Environmental Law

Module titleEnvironmental Law
Module codeLAW3200
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Catherine Caine (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The protection of the environment is becoming the pivotal policy concern of our age, and the manner in which law plays a vital role in influencing policies and addressing environmental disruption will be of integral importance. In this module you will be provided with both a theoretical and practical foundation in environmental law and policy, and you will also reach beyond and delve into the critical and substantive issues affecting its regulation today.

This is an optional module on the third year of the LLB and is suited to those interested in specialising in environmental law and policy, whether in research, practice or their professional work. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The main aim of the module is to introduce you to some of the key theories, concepts and issues in environmental law and policy, as well as support you in generating new research and ideas in this field. It will therefore offer an overview of basic environmental law principles by considering national and European legal responses to managing global commons, the history of the development of environmental law, and the values and principles that have shaped this newly evolving discipline.  The module provides you with an understanding of the contemporary theory, critical issues in, and perspectives on, environmental regulation and policy. It also aims to provide you with a sound grasp of cutting-edge debates surrounding global environmental challenges from biodiversity loss, to air pollution and the climate emergency. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate detailed, comprehensive knowledge of the law relating to environmental law and policy, including a substantial range of major concepts, values and principles relevant to its application;
  • 2. demonstrate critical awareness of a wide range of social and contextual implications of the areas of environmental law studied;
  • 3. compare, analyse and synthesise the principal rules and theories relating to environmental law and policy;
  • 4. identify, explain and critically evaluate key issues in environmental law and policy, applying relevant rules and theories;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. demonstrate detailed, comprehensive knowledge of legal concepts and their wider contextual, social and political implications;
  • 6. select, integrate and present, coherently and reflectively, relevant law, social and environmental justice theory arguments;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. communicate and engage in debate effectively and accurately, in a manner appropriate to the discipline/different contexts;
  • 8. identify, retrieve and use efficiently a range of resources with minimum guidance; and
  • 9. work independently and manage time efficiently in preparing for scheduled learning activities and assessments.

Syllabus plan

While the module’s precise content and syllabus may vary each year, it is anticipated that it will cover the following topics:

Foundations of Environmental Law

- Values, Principles and Concepts

- Sources and Institutions

- Regulation, Compliance and Enforcement

- Public Participation and the Aarhus Convention


Critical Perspectives in Environmental Law

- Nature Conservation Law

- Environmental Rights

- Air Pollution Regulation

- Climate Law, Policy & Justice 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2211 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4.53 x 1.5 hour workshops
Guided independent study54General reading for the module
Guided independent study27Workshop preparation
Guided independent study42.5Assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1,250 words1-9Individual written feedback; oral feedback upon request

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1002,500 words1-9Individual written feedback; oral feedback upon request

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (2,500 words)1-9August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bell and McGillivray and Pedersen, Environmental Law (OUP latest edn)

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Birnie, Boyle and Redgwell, International Law & the Environment (4th edn, OUP 2018)

Fisher, Lange and Scotford, Environmental Law: Text, Cases and Materials (2nd edn, OUP 2019)

Sands and Peel, Principles of International Environmental Law, (4th edn.,CUP 2018)  

Sample Journal Articles & Contributions to Edited Volumes:

N. Gunningham, ‘Enforcing Environmental Regulation’ (2011) Journal of Environmental Law 23 (2): 169-201

S. Humphreys, ‘Competing claims: human rights and climate harms’ in Humphreys (Ed.), Human Rights and Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Chapter 1 p37-66.

M. Lee and C, Abbot, ‘The usual suspects? Public participation under the Aarhus Convention’ (2003) 66 Modern Law Review 80- 108.

L. Rajamani, ‘The 2015 Paris Agreement: Interplay Between Hard, Soft and Non-Obligations’ (2016) 28 Journal of Environmental Law 337–358.

C. Reid and W. Nsoh, 'The Privatisation of Biodiversity?' (Edward Elgar, 2016) Chapter 9: Reflections pp.253-260.

A. Venn ‘Social Justice and Climate Change’ in T. M. Letcher (Ed.) Managing Global Warming: An interface between technology and human issues (Elsevier, 2018) Chapter 24 pp.711-723.

Yamineva and Romppanen, ‘Is law failing to address air pollution? Reflections on international and EU developments’ (2017) RECIEL, 26(3) 189-200.

Key words search

Environmental Law, Regulation, Policy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date