International Environmental Law

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

This module introduces international environmental law or more specifically the international legal and institutional arrangements concerning the management 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 examines, in particular, global environmental issues that have risen to the top of the international law and policy agenda in the wake of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Conference), the Rio+20 summit and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

The module highlights several key aspects of international environmental law, focusing in particular on their North-South dimension. It provides an introduction to the principles of international environmental law, sustainable development, issues related to the protection of the environment, the conservation of the environment and the use/exploitation of environmental resources. It also examines questions related to compliance and effectiveness of international environmental treaties.

The course further examines environmental issues in their broader context. It thus considers, for instance, the link between human rights and the environment and may also consider links between intellectual property rights and the environment or war and the environment.

Objectives and learning outcomes

  • Understand of the key principles, actors and institutions relevant to environmental law in the international domain;
  • Understand twenty-first century ‘global’ environmental law within an historical context;
  • Grasp the evolving relationship between environment and development;
  • Appreciate the North-South dimension of international environmental law


  • Weekly 2-hour lecture
  • Weekly 1-hour tutorial

Scope and syllabus

Locating Environmental Law in Global Context, Principles of international environmental law, human right to a clean environment, climate change, biodiversity, industrial pollution and case studies.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 70% (2500 words)
  • Test: 30%

Suggested reading

  • Shawkat Alam et al eds, International Environmental Law and the Global South (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • Alan Boyle and Catherine Redgwell, Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment (OUP, 4th ed 2021).
  • Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Marcel Brus & Panos Merkouris eds, Research Handbook on International Environmental Law (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2nd ed, 2021).
  • Lavanya Rajamani & Jacqueline Peel eds, Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (Oxford University Press, 2021).
  • Philippe Sands & Jacqueline Peel, Principles of International Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press, 4th ed 2018).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.