SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Water Resources: Justice and Governance

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

This module examines water law, governance and regulatory reform in Asia. It seeks to provide students with a broad understanding of the multi-faceted issues arising in the water sector from the local to the international level. It focuses in large part on India but also examines other countries in the region, regional interactions as well as the international context within which water law and governance take place in Asia.

The module focuses on the law, governance, and policy framework. It examines water law as a separate branch of the law, its sectoral development and its basic principles. It addresses the multiplicity of legal instruments making up the water regulatory framework, ranging from constitutional issues to laws, judicial pronouncements and policy instruments. Further, it considers water law in its evolving dimension that includes both a set of policy reforms (including regulatory reforms) and a range of new water laws progressively introduced over the past fifteen years. It further considers the links between the water governance framework at the national level, the framework at the international level and some of the mechanisms and institutions that ensure the transition from the international to the national level.

This general part is followed by forays into specific sectoral issues. These include consideration of law and policy (including the ‘hydropolitics’) frameworks for different water uses such as drinking water and irrigation as well as different water bodies such as surface and groundwater. These issues are contextualised with a focus on issues that are most relevant for each sector. Thus, the different frameworks governing urban and rural drinking water supply are analysed separately to highlight, for instance, issues related to private sector participation in urban areas. The module also examines the rapidly evolving institutional framework for water governance.

The module provides a complement to the offering in environment and natural resources law, governance and development in an area that is increasingly central both in terms of conservation and use.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to understand and analyse issues concerning water law, governance and regulatory reform in Asia from a broad perspective encompassing their economic, social and environmental dimensions. Students will acquire knowledge of the basic concepts and principles underlying the governance, regulatory reform, management and conservation of water in the context of Asia, focusing on national, regional examples in the international context in which governance evolves.


Teaching takes place through a weekly 2 hour lecture.

Scope and syllabus

This module will be delivered alongside the parallel module, 'Water Law: Justice and Governance' (taught in the School of Law).

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay worth 70% and a book review worth 30% of the final grade. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules