International Environmental Law

Subject LAWS70219 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

October, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 16-Sep-2015
Teaching Period 14-Oct-2015 to 20-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Jan-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 17-Jun-2015
Census Date 14-Oct-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 04-Dec-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
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: None
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 and critique 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 to 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:


Ms Alice Palmer


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

International environmental law is the field of public international law concerned with the protection of the natural environment, and those aspects of the built environment recognised as world cultural heritage. It is a vitally important branch of international law, seeking as it does to safeguard the environment on which humanity depends for its very existence. International environmental law seeks to integrate the activities of diverse actors—states, international organisations, businesses, communities and non-government organisations (NGOs) and uses a wide range of legal tools (including economic instruments and participatory mechanisms) to address pressing environmental concerns. This subject explores the critical governance and regulatory dimensions of international environmental law, as well as introducing you to cases and treaties that have been pivotal to the development of this area of international law. The lecturers in the subject are international environmental law experts, with both academic and practical experience in the field, which will be drawn into the delivery of a stimulating and relevant subject.

Principal topics include:

  • The need for international environmental law and its historical development
  • Fundamental principles and concepts necessary for an understanding of international environmental law, eg sustainable development, precautionary principle and polluter pays principle
  • The principal institutions and actors involved in the creation, implementation and enforcement of international environmental law
  • The principal cases and treaties that have been influential in the development of international environmental law
  • Current issues of concern in international environmental law, including atmospheric pollution and climate change, the protection of the oceans, species protection and biodiversity, and international trade.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the need for, and historical development of, international environmental law
  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of international environmental law
  • Be able to critically analyse, interpret and assess the contribution of cases, treaties and institutions to the development of international environmental law.
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as multi-level environmental governance, participatory reforms and inter-linkages with other areas of international law
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to problems in the current environmental regime at the global level and to critically evaluate ways to improve international environmental law
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding substantive areas of international environmental law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of international environmental law.
  • 1,000 word reflective essay based on an assigned reading (15%) (11 November)
  • 8,000 word research paper (85%) (20 January 2016) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed material will be made available from Melbourne Law School.

Philippe Sands and Jacqueline Peel, Principles of International Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press, 3 rd ed, 2012).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Climate Change
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation

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