SOAS University of London

School of Law

Water Law: Justice and Governance II

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

Note: This module offered together with its companion module Water Law: Justice and Governance I (Term 1). The two modules are separate units but they are conceived jointly and both co-taught equally by Professor Mollinga and Professor Cullet. For Development Studies students, note that course Water and Development: Conflict and Governance is the same course as the present course and Water Resources: Justice and Governance (Term 1) is the same course as Water Law: Justice and Governance I. There are different titles for administrative reasons but the course is the one course taught jointly by by Professor Mollinga and Professor Cullet.

This module examines the relation between water law and development in the broader context of the governance framework that is increasingly influenced by conflicts over the resource. 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 uses national case studies, as well as regional international issues to analyse the multiplicity of issues arising in the water sector. This module focuses on how legal, governance and policy frameworks for water resources have been contested in recent decades, an era of intensifying (neo)liberalisation and globalisation, and rapid economic growth in many parts of the world. The course examines the structures, practices and discourses  of water resources’ political contestation. At sub-regional level  it focuses on domains/sub-sectors like groundwater irrigation and surface water irrigation, to address issues like institutional approaches to unequal water access and distribution. At national level it focuses on domains/sub-sectors like  large dam building and wetlands, to address issues like displacement & resettlement through water infrastructure development and environmental justice. At transboundary level the course focuses on inter-state negotiations of river basin governance and management, to address issues like benefit sharing and water security. The course critically examines the institutional arrangement for water governance, and analyses contemporary challenges to water resource governance in terms of evolving regulatory frameworks and processes of democratisation


  • 2 hour lecture per week

Scope and syllabus

The module covers, for instance:

  • The law and politics of access to water (such as questions of equality and discrimination)
  • The law and politics of sustainability related to water (environment, pollution)
  • The law and politics of transformation (water justice, displacement

Method of assessment

  • Essay: 70% (3000 words)
  • Essay: 30% (1000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Fresh Water in International Law (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • Ken Conca & Erika Weinthal eds, Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Oliver Cumming & Tom Slaymaker eds, Equality in Water and Sanitation Services (Routledge, 2018).
  • Felix Dodds, Jamie Bartram, The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus - Challenges and an Agenda for Action (Routledge, 2016).
  • Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Andrew Allan, Sarah Hendry eds, Routledge Handbook of Water Law and Policy (Routledge, 2019).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules