LLM Environmental Law and Sustainable Development
- One calendar year (full-time), two, three or four years (part-time, daytime only). We recommend that part-time students have between two-and-a-half and three days a week free to pursue their course of study.
- Start of programme
- September intake only
- Attendance mode
- Full-time or part-time
- Russell Square, College Buildings
Home student fees: £14,550 per year
Overseas student fees: £24,750 per year
Please note that fees go up each year.
See postgraduate fees for further details.
- Entry requirements
We will consider all applications with a 2:2 (or international equivalent) or higher in a relevant Social Sciences subject. In addition to degree classification in a relevant subject we take into account other elements of the application such as supporting statement. References are optional, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:2 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications.
The LLM in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development provides a unique specialisation in a rapidly evolving area of law that covers a range of issues at the heart of major contemporary developments and debates.
At SOAS, we understand environmental law as deeply connected with human and social issues. This is why our compulsory introductory course is a course on Law Environment and Social Justice. This also explains why human rights dimensions find repeated place in our courses.
We offer a wide range of distinctive modules that combine a focus on core subjects in the field alongside a critical inquiry into the theory and practice of environmental law, particularly as they relate to the Global South.
Why study LLM Environmental Law and Sustainable Development at SOAS?
- We are ranked in the UK top 20 (QS World University Rankings 2023)
- We are ranked 6th in the UK for employability (QS World University Rankings 2023)
- Our research publications have been rated first in the UK - and our School of Law rated sixth in the UK - in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
We also offer courses focusing more specifically on the resource dimension of environmental law. At SOAS, we take a broad view of the subject matter and our Law and Natural Resources course addresses a broad variety of natural resources beyond the traditional focus on oil and gas, and does so in particular in terms of the livelihoods and human rights consequences of natural resource use.
As students on the LLM in environmental law, you will be invited to become student members of the LEDC, providing you an opportunity to become involved and engage with the SOAS research community and actors in the field, which includes many scholars in different departments and inter-disciplinary centres, such as the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy and the Centre for Water and Development.
Who should apply?
The programme is ideal for LLB graduates or legal professionals with an interest in the theory and practice of environmental law and related fields, particularly as they relate to the global South.
After you graduate, you will join graduates from the LLM at SOAS, many of whom are now working as environmental lawyers, in environmental NGOs and consultancies, in government, in policy work at the national or international level (UN or other) or in academia (please also see the ‘employment’ tab on this page).
Please note that the LLM is restricted to applicants who hold an UK law degree or international equivalent. If you do not hold a law degree apply for a master’s degree in law at SOAS.
This programme can be offered as part of a dual LLM degree with University of Bergen.
Through the dual LLM, University of Bergen LLM students can spend either Year Four or Year Five of their five year programme at SOAS studying for an LLM and gain an award from both institutions. For more information and eligible programmes included in the dual LLM, please see the SOAS-Bergen partnership on the Global Partnerships website.
Students must take modules to a total value of 180 credits, consisting of a dissertation (60 credits) and 120 credits of taught modules. Taught modules are worth either 15 or 30 credits. Students who wish to graduate with a specialised LLM are required to take at least 60 credits associated with his or her specialised LLM, and the dissertation topic will be undertaken within the LLM specialisation.
Please note that not all modules listed will be available every year.
The information on the website reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. The modules are indicative options of the content students can expect and are/have been previously taught as part of these programmes. However, this information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
Dissertation (12,000 words), on a topic related to the specialism of the degree
|LLM Dissertation in Law||60|
120 credits total
Students take the following compulsory module (15 credits)
|Law, Environment and Social Justice||15|
- Choose modules from List A to the value of 45 credits and
- Choose modules from List A and List B OR from postgraduate open options to the value of 60 credits
List A (subject to availability)
List B (subject to availability)
Open options will need approval of deputy PG programme convenor (LLM or MA)
Teaching and learning
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on.
It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
Knowledge and understanding
- Students will acquire specialist knowledge of environmental law in an international and comparative perspective.
- This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, knowledge and understanding of the following:
- theoretical and practical underpinnings of environmental law internationally
- context in which law is made, interpreted, adjudicated, and amended
- role played by law, particularly environmental law in different situations internationally, particularly its role in promoting sustainable development in the global South
- role and function of legal institutions in managing the environment and natural resources
- weight and significance of different sources and methodologies
- Students will develop knowledge of how to locate relevant materials and assess their relevance and/or importance
Intellectual (thinking) skills
- Students should develop rigor in analysis and assessment of legal arguments.
- Students should develop the ability to understand, summarise and critically assess differing perspectives on theoretical debates.
- Students should develop independence of thought and the confidence to challenge the accepted wisdom.
- Students should learn to identify issues and formulate questions for further research through independent work.
- Students will be encouraged to bring to bear their own previous experience and knowledge in addressing legal issues in an interdisciplinary manner.
Subject-based practical skills
The programme will help students develop the ability to:
- Write clear research essays and dissertations.
- Research in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes and online, and retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
- Present seminar papers and defend the arguments therein.
- Discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
- Develop essay and dissertation research questions.
- Read legal source materials rapidly and critically.
- Present legal arguments in moots and debates.
The programme will enable students to:
- Communicate effectively in writing.
- Structure and communicate ideas and arguments effectively both orally and in writing.
- Read and comprehend significant quantities of reading rapidly and effectively and develop critical faculties.
- Find and use a variety of written and digital materials, especially legal materials, in libraries and research institutes.
- Present (non – assessed) material orally.
- Develop teamwork skills.
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
SOAS Law graduates leave SOAS as civic minded and critically engaged individuals who can effectively contribute to their communities and societies. With a thorough understanding of the legal dimensions underlying many of our global challenges today, our Law students are valued by employers due to their analytical skills, specialist knowledge, and global perspective.
Graduates of the LLM Environmental Law and Sustainable Development degree have gone on to take up a variety of exciting opportunities.
Recent graduates have been hired by:
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Climate Law and Policy
Find out about our Careers Service.
The Social Life of Law in Authoritarian Contexts
Food security and the governance of local knowledge in India and Indonesia (2018–2023)
Working with the Australian Research Council to examine the ways small farmers identify, conserve and exchange useful plant material.
Fostering ecocentric community-led river restoration and conservation in the Ganga Basin (2022–2023)
Interrogating the concept of "river rights" to examine the contribution of ecocentric rights for river restoration and conservation.
Conflicts over Access to Water and Land: Evolving dimensions (2022–2025)
Addressing water conflicts through the lens of water security.
Carceral Policy, Policing and Race
Amplifying the carceral experiences of marginalised populations across the Global South.
Sanitation in India: Understanding a complex and controversial human right (2016)
Examining the right to sanitation in India from a broad perspective that encompasses the various dimensions of the right.
Legalissues Related to water sector restructuring in India (2006–2009)r
The first major study of water law in India since the early 1990s and contributed to ensuring policy-makers would consider it a more important part of sector reforms.
UKIERI: Climate change and groundwater management in India (2013–2015)
Analysing the impact of climate change on groundwater.
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Enhancing SOAS knowledge and capacity in the study and research of East and Southeast Asian laws, with a focus on Thai law.
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Exploring the debates that led to the reform of age of consent laws in UK and their introduction in other parts of the Empire at the end of the 19th century.
HURIME Project: Human Rights in the Post-Uprisings Middle East
Enhancing the knowledge of academicians and politicians on the new tendencies of human rights discourses and practices in the MENA region.
SOAS Influencing the Corridors of Power project
Influencing the Corridors of Power (ICOP) is an innovative front-line project which addresses the democratic deficit between UK universities and UK politics.