SOAS University of London

School of Law

Global Environmental Law

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Year of study:
Year 3, Year 3 of 4 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

This module provides a critical introduction to environmental law, within a global and historical context. The autumn term begins with an overview of the relation between international and domestic regimes, as they have evolved since WWII. This is followed by a series of lectures that situate the legal regulation of the environment against a background of changing attitudes in early modern Britain. Particular attention is given to conceptions of ‘humanness’, ‘the environment’ and ‘the animal’, drawing examples from case law and legislation.

The second half of the module examines how these changing attitudes were translated into legal regimes in British colonies. Forests, water, wildlife and common lands were subject to – in some cases wholesale – appropriation by both local and colonial authorities. How did these processes redefine the ways in which people grew and processed their food and engaged with their animals? How did these changes differ across jurisdictions in Africa and Asia? The module ends by looking at present day issues such as conservation, heritage and animal welfare, asking what it means to think about the ‘environment’ of environmental law in light of this history.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Detailed knowledge of the key principles, actors and institutions relevant to environmental law in the domestic and international domains;
  • An understanding of twenty-first century ‘global’ environmental law within an historical context;
  • A critical understanding of the concept of the ‘environment’ in law and the ways in which it has changed over time;
  • An appreciation of the impact that British colonial practices have had on the development of environmental law, with particular reference to Asia and Africa.

Method of assessment

  • Course work: 30% (3000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Beatrice Chaytor & Kevin R. Gray eds, International Environmental Law and Policy in Africa (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003).
  • Jonas Ebbesson and Phoebe Okowa eds, Environmental Law and Justice in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Jan Glazewski, Environmental law in South Africa (Durban: LexisNexis Butterworths, 2nd ed. 2005).
  • Jona Razzaque, Public interest environmental litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2004).
  • P.B. Sahasranaman, Handbook of Environmental Law (New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Philippe Sands, Jacqueline Peel with Adriana Fabra, Ruth MacKenzie, Principles of International Environmental Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3rd ed. 2012).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules