SOAS University of London

School of Law

Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This module complements the existing offering in environmental law and offers a more focused module on one of the most sensitive environmental issues of our time. It seeks to provide a broad analytical view of the problem of climate change law and policy in its broader context.

The module will first examine a number of background topics as well as the main international legal instruments that constitute international climate law and policy. This will include an examination of the underlying principles of climate change law and policy, an introduction to the UN Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, a focus on specific legal issues arising the context of the UN regime such as compliance and liability as well as an analysis of more specific problems such as regional approaches and relations between climate change law and other areas of law such as trade law.

The module will then move on to examine a number of specific problems arising in the context of the law and policy response to climate change both concerning mitigation and adaptation. Specific problems examine will include human rights implications, agriculture and climate change, land-use, forests and biodiversity and climate change, energy and transport.

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

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • to equip students with a broad understanding of the law and policy related to climate change;
  • to provide students with knowledge of basic concepts and principles underlying the development of law and policy in relation to climate change;
  • to examine interlinkages between normative and substantive developments in a number of law and policy fields relating to climate change including trade, investment, liability and redress, adaptation and development;
  • to compare the ongoing development of climate change law and policy in countries of the North and South;
  • to equip students with the ability to understand and analyse issues concerning key legal and policy developments across such broad range of sectors, including: energy sector, marine, insurance and liability, human rights, adaptation and finance mechanisms.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 20% (2000 words) and 30% (4000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

Suggested reading

  •  Stephen H. Schneider et al. eds, Climate Chage Science and Policy (Island Press, 2010).
  • David Freestone and Charlotte Streck eds, Legal Aspects of Carbon Trading: Kyoto, Copenhagen and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Bert Bolin, A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • William James Burroughs, Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Lisa Schipper & Ian Burton eds, The Earthscan Reader on Adaptation to Climate Change (Earthscan, 2008).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules