SOAS University of London

School of Law

International Environmental Law

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

This module introduces international environmental law or more specifically the international legal and institutional arrangements concerning the management of the environment. It examines both theoretical and practical dimensions of these arrangements.

This module explores some of the most salient aspects of the expanding area of international environmental law. It examines, in particular, global environmental issues that have risen to the top of the international law and policy agenda in the wake of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Conference), the Rio+20 summit and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

The module highlights several key aspects of international environmental law, focusing in particular on their North-South dimension. It provides an introduction to the principles of international environmental law, sustainable development, issues related to the protection of the environment, the conservation of the environment and the use/exploitation of environmental resources. It also examines questions related to compliance and effectiveness of international environmental treaties. The course further examines environmental issues in their broader context. It thus considers, for instance, the link between human rights and the environment and may also consider links between intellectual property rights and the environment or war and the environment.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Understand of the key principles, actors and institutions relevant to environmental law in the international domain;
  • Understand twenty-first century ‘global’ environmental law within an historical context;
  • Grasp the evolving relationship between environment and development;
  • Appreciate the North-South dimension of international environmental law


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


Scope and syllabus

Locating Environmental Law in Global Context, Principles of international environmental law, human right to a clean environment, climate change, biodiversity, industrial pollution and case studies

Method of assessment

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

Suggested reading

• Shawkat Alam et al eds, International Environmental Law and the Global South (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

• Pierre-Marie Dupuy & Jorge E. Viñuales, International Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed 2018).

• Ellen Hey, Advanced Introduction to International Environmental Law (Edward Elgar, 2016).

• Timo Koivurova, Introduction to International Environmental Law (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014).

• Philippe Sands & Jacqueline Peel, Principles of International Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press, 4th ed 2018).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules