SOAS University of London

School of Law

Environmental Law in Action: Comparative and Domestic Perspectives

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

This course provides a critical introduction to the practice of environmental law from a comparative perspective, with a focus on the Global South. It considers the bases for environmental regulation, the links between use and protection of the environment and examines specifically issues related to the use of natural resources within the general context of sustainable development that informs environmental regulation worldwide.

The course examines the environmental legal frameworks of different jurisdictions in the North and South, highlighting some of the basic legal instruments and approaches that make environmental law a distinct subject of study, such as environmental liability and procedural environmental rights. It also examines legal regimes concerning specific environmental resources, such as forests and water and gives special attention to conservation issues, for instance, concerning wildlife.

The course examines topical environmental issues in their contemporary and historical perspective, focusing on the North-South dimension of protection and use, and emphasises the changing role of the state and other actors, in particular the private sector in the management of the environment. The course uses topical case studies and examples from both the North and the Global South, challenging students to examine and interrogate the issue of sustainability and effectiveness in the enforcement of environmental law.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Develop a critical understanding of the concept of the ‘environment’ in law and the ways in which it has changed over time
  • Understand of the key principles, actors and institutions relevant to environmental law in a domestic and comparative perspective;
  • Understand twenty-first century environmental law from a North-South perspective;
  • Understand the evolving relationship between environment and development;


Teaching will take the form of a two-hour seminar each week.


Scope and syllabus

Contemporary issues in environmental law; domestic and comparative environmental law; colonial legacies and modern environmental law in the South; environmental liability; public participation, procedural rights, and environmental impact assessment; forest law; water law.

Method of assessment

  • Essay: 70% (3000 words)
  • In class test: 30% (1 hour)

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)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules