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School of Law

MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development

Duration: One year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only).


Minimum Entry Requirements: Upper second class honours preferably in a related discipline

Start of programme: September intake only

The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development provides a unique specialisation in one of the most rapidly developing areas of law. Environmental law is one of the most challenging fields that has grown very rapidly over the past four decades and is now one of the key areas of both domestic and international law. At SOAS, we understand the environment in a broad sense which includes not only environmental issues strictly speaking but also all the links that they have with other areas such as natural resources, human rights, economic development trade or intellectual property rights.

The SOAS degree offers a distinct mix of courses that covers all the main areas of environmental law in their international and national dimensions. The international and global nature of many environmental issues makes the international law component a key part of the MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development. We offer all the general topics that make up the core of international environmental law. Additionally, we focus specifically on the North-South dimension of international environmental issues given the key role this plays in most international environmental negotiations.

The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development specifically seeks to put international environmental law in its national context and examines the broad legal frameworks negotiated at the international level in the context of their implementation in selected countries of the South. It thus provides a much more grounded context to the study of environmental law.

Further, we also study the legal regimes of individual countries of the South to provide much more specific analysis of the discipline at the level of its implementation in specific contexts. The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development gives specific emphasis to different regions of the South, including South Asia, China and sub-Saharan Africa.

For further information about the general structure of the MA in Law programme at SOAS, please visit the General MA in Law (MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies) page.


Programme Specification

MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development programme specification 2013/14

Programme Structure

Please note that all MA students need to take a two week Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods course before the teaching term begins.

Students are required to take three taught courses** and a dissertation. The courses run from the start of term in September, and examinations take place at the end of May/ beginning of June. The final date for the submission of the dissertation is 15 September in the final year of registration.

**Students may be permitted to select one full course, or one half course, or two half courses in place of the equivalent number of Law course(s) as follows:

(a) a complementary non-Law SOAS Masters level course, if the MA Law Convenor is satisfied that the complementary course is academically appropriate and is closely related to the specialism of the MA Law programme;
(b) a complementary SOAS postgraduate language acquisition course at the appropriate level, if the MA Law Convenor is satisfied that the complementary language is closely related to either to the specialism of the MA Law programme or to the regional focus of the student's other courses.

In all cases, the choice of course is subject to approval by the MA Law Convenor, the course convenor for the complementary course, a language level test if prescribed, and availability of places.
Students choosing a complementary non-Law course must complete Law courses to the minimum value of 90 credits and must complete a dissertation in Law.

Core Courses

Students must take courses to a total value of 135 credits and a dissertation. Full unit course (1 unit) = 45 credits Half unit course (0.5 unit) = 22.5 credits. Students must take courses to a value of 90 credits from the list below:


Students must also take a Dissertation in Law, which should be on a topic relating to environmental law and sustainable development.

Optional Courses

Students must also take one further course or two half courses, to a total value of 45 credits, either from the list above or the optional list below**

Non-Law Options
Optional Course list - MA Environmental Law and Sustainable Development

Teaching & Learning

A Student's Perspective

I enjoyed the availability of a diverse range of units – something that you might not be able to get anywhere else. Also, the knowledge of the lecturers, particularly Diamond Ashiagbor, was incredible. In seminars, you would just get the feeling that she knew everything she was talking about and could answer any question.

Joshua Tan, Monash University