Law, Environment and Social Justice

Key information

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

Module overview

This course is an introductory module to environmental law that aims at giving students a solid and comprehensive foundation of key concepts of environmental law and a grounding in some of the most topical and foundational debates.

These include the role of justice frameworks in relation to environmental law and key debates in environmental legal regulation. The aim is to provide a platform from which to better appreciate some of the central tensions and dynamics in the study of environmental law generally.

The course will introduce environmental law in its North-South context, in historical perspective, and in a domestic, comparative and regional context. It will cover the context for environmental regulation, principles and regulatory techniques from a theoretical and practical perspective.

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 concerning the environment
  • to provide students with knowledge of basic concepts and principles underlying the conservation and use of the environment
  • to equip students with analytical tools with which they may understand environmental law in its broader context, including political, economic, social and ecological dimensions


  • Weekly 2-hour seminar

Scope and syllabus

The course includes an introduction to environment law in historical perspective, a contextualisation in terms of development debates and environmental justice, an examination of the place of domestic law in relation to international environmental law, an analysis of principles of environmental law, an introduction to the main regulatory techniques and specific consideration of enforcement through courts and different actors relevant in environmental law.

Method of assessment

  • Book review: 30% (1000 words)
  • Essay: 70% (2500 words)

Suggested reading

  • Philippe Cullet & Sujith Koonan eds, Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South (Edward Elgar, 2019)
  • Anna Grear & Louis J. Kotzé eds, Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar, 2015)
  • Emma Lees & Jorge E. Viñuales eds, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Law (Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Ugo Mattei & Fritjof Capra, The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015)
  • Eloise Scotford, Environmental Principles and the Evolution of Environmental Law (Hart, 2017)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.