SOAS University of London

School of Law

International Environmental and Sustainable Development Law

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

This modules have been replaces by International Environmental Law I and International Environmental Law II

This module examines international legal and institutional arrangements concerning the conservation and use 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 is built around the understanding that international environmental law is about both conservation and use (captured in the notion of sustainable development). It is also structured around an understanding that it is the North-South dimension of environmental issues that explains a large part of existing international environmental law.

The module covers, for instance:

  • principles of international environmental law (such as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the precautionary principle),
  • environmental justice (human rights, participatory rights);
  • issues related to the protection of the environment from industrial activities (hazardous activities, wastes, air pollution);
  • issues related to the conservation of the environment (species, biological diversity);
  • issues related the use/exploitation of environmental resources;
  • questions related to compliance, effectiveness and the enforcement of international environmental law, including civil liability and compliance mechanisms; and
  • links with other fields, such as links between trade and the environment.

This course is open to all Postgraduate Taught Students at SOAS.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • To introduce the general international legal and institutional framework relating to the management of the environment;
  • To equip students with a broad understanding of the law concerning the environment at the international level;
  • To provide students with knowledge of basic concepts and principles underlying the conservation and use of the environment at the international level;
  • To equip students with analytical tools with which they may understand the international legal framework of environmental law in its broader context, including political, economic, social and ecological dimensions.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (6000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

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