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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5355M Environmental Law

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Carrie Bradshaw

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

LAW5811M Environmental Law – international permit-based control of pollution

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores the complex relationship between environmental protection, business regulation, and justice, and the success and failures of legal responses to these complexities. Environmental law is as much a ‘social’ and ‘economic’ project as an ‘ecological’ one, with implications for social and business relations in the broader economy: environmental ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ (such as clean/polluted air and water) may be distributed unequally; corporations can be viewed as both part of the problem and part of the solution to environmental protection; and limits are placed on access to environmental justice. We will explore the tensions between anthropocentric and ecological approaches to conceptualising and protecting our natural environment exhibited in approaches to environmental regulation and governance, using core theoretical approaches to asses central legal concepts and interventions and their relationship with economic development, social development and environmental protection. This includes critiquing the shift to new governance techniques actively enrolling private actors into environmental regulation; global (and corporate) commitments to ‘sustainable development’; the limitations of rights in and of nature (are environmental rights human rights; should trees have standing?); and the barriers to accessing environmental justice. We will also explore the role of different actors and communities in supporting, shaping and experiencing environmental and social justice, including nation states, corporations, NGOs, activists, women and indigenous people.


This module explores the complex relationship between environmental protection and social justice, and the legal responses to these complexities.

Learning outcomes
1. Synthesise and critically evaluate core theoretical debates within environmental law, regulation and justice.
2. Critically evaluate core legal mechanisms within environmental law and their relationship with business regulation and environmental justice.
3. Critically evaluate the role of, and challenges for, various actors (including states, corporations, NGOs, citizens and communities) in environmental law.
Skills outcomes include critical analysis and oral presentation skills.


Non-exhaustive indicative topics
Introduction to environmental law
Environmental regulation and governance
Environmental Principles
Environmental Liability
Sustainable development
‘Rights’ in and of nature
Access to environmental justice and/or Democratic decision making and public participation/democratisation of environmental law
Advocacy, activism and governance
Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and the global commons
Gender and environmental law and/or Indigenous people, corporations, and environmental justice

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours135.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

135 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Participatory interactions in seminars plus one seminar to include a structured formative ‘debate’ (on a core question which will help scaffold thinking for the summative assessment - e.g. this house believes ‘trees should have standing?’, ‘women are the stewards of the earth’, ‘environmental rights are human rights’, etc). This gives students an opportunity to research, deliver and test arguments and course tutors an opportunity to offer feedback. Preparation for the debate is ‘workloaded’ in the expected private / group study time, to enable students to make the most of this opportunity to test knowledge and ideas.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 Words75.00
Oral Presentation7-10 minute presentation25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/09/2021 17:02:41


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