Environmental Law

Subject LAWS70068 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

29 September to 03 October, 9:30am to 5:00pm each day.


This subject is only offered to students from the Office for Environmental Programs.



Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit: www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Email law-masters@unimelb.edu.au or phone +61 3 8344 6190.

Alternatively, visit our website:


Subject Overview:

This subject will provide an examination of the development and current scope of Australian environmental law, with a focus on the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and related state environmental assessment laws (eg the Environmental Effects Act 1978 (Vic)) and pollution control legislation (eg the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic)). There will be also an introduction to international environmental law.
Principal topics will include:
• Greater diversity in environmental law approaches, including integration with other regulatory areas which could include planning, natural resource management, water use and indigenous land management, and the use of financial measures and economic instruments in regulation.
• The growing importance of international law, with the recognition that environmental protection issues cross territorial and regulatory boundaries
• Greater integration between relevant disciplines concerned with environmental protection
These themes will be illustrated by case studies, which could be situated within the following areas:
• Ecologically sustainable development and changing conceptions of the ‘environment’
• Environmental actors, including public interest litigation
• The range of legal and regulatory tools used in environmental law, including market mechanisms such as emissions trading schemes.
• The interaction of law and science, with a focus on the precautionary principle
• Integration and complexity challenges in implementing environmental law with a focus on biodiversity protection
• International law trends including trade and environment and trans-boundary harms.

Learning Outcomes:

The subject is designed as an overview of environmental law for students without a legal background. A student who has successfully completed this subject should:
• Gain an understanding of the evolution of environmental law and the factors driving change at international and domestic levels
• Appreciate the pervasive nature of environmental law across jurisdictions
• Understand the influence of other disciplines, such as science, on the scope, direction and character of environmental law
• Be able to analyse the nature of current environmental law approaches such as the ‘regulatory mix’
• Be familiar with key case studies that illustrate the dynamic trends in environmental law
• Understand the need for integration across many areas of law to achieve environmental goals, such as ecologically sustainable development.


Take-home examination (50%) 24-27 October;


Research Paper of 4,000 words (50%) due 19 November.

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information: http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/masters/courses-and-subjects/subject-details/sid/5506
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Climate Change
Conservation and Restoration
Conservation and Restoration
Energy Efficiency Modelling and Implementation
Energy Efficiency Modelling and Implementation
Energy Studies
Energy Studies
Governance, Policy and Communication
Governance, Policy and Communication
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Public Health
Public Health
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Forests
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Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation
Waste Management
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