Climate Change Law and Policy

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

This course 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 course examines the main international legal instruments that constitute international climate law and policy within their broader context. This includes an examination of the underlying principles of climate change law and policy, an introduction to the UN Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, a focus on specific legal issues arising the context of the UN regime, such as carbon trading, 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 also examines specific problems arising in the context of the law and policy response to climate change both concerning mitigation and adaptation, such as human rights implications, land-use, forests and biodiversity.

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 law and policy fields relating to climate change;

•           to equip students with the ability to understand and analyse issues concerning key legal and policy developments across a broad range of sectors related to climate change.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 70% (3000 words) and 30% (1000 words)

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