Climate Change Law

Subject LAWS50056 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
November, Semester 2
Semester 1
Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 2
Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 1
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Students are recommended to take LAWS50041 Public International Law prior to, or in conjunction with, this subject.

Non Allowed Subjects:
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law School welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Law School policy to take all reasonable steps to enable the participation of students with disabilities, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the School’s programs.

The inherent academic requirements for the study in the Melbourne Law School are:

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

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from participating in tasks involving these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to the emerging, specialised field of climate change law and regulation, covering domestic, comparative and international legal dimensions. It develops and integrates legal knowledge from across many sub-disciplinary fields (e.g. administrative law and torts law), augmenting this through study of specific climate change-related legislation and case law, and relevant multidisciplinary knowledge to build an understanding of the complex interactions that define climate change law. Topics addressed will include the multidisciplinary nature of climate law study, structures for climate change governance at the international and domestic levels, modes of climate change regulation, such as emissions trading schemes and renewable energy targets, litigation and its role in securing climate justice, and legal frameworks for climate change adaptation. Case studies considered throughout the subject will provide students with an understanding of recent developments in the disciplinary area and the associated field of climate and energy law professional practice.

Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an advanced and integrated understanding of, and be able to critically analyse, reflect on and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to, the following issues:

  • The regulatory implications of scientific projections of global warming and predictions of the impacts of climate change in an ecological, social and economic context;
  • The drivers for climate change regulation at an international, regional and local level;
  • The development of, and prospects for, the international legal framework governing climate change issues, including the UNFCCC and associated international instruments;
  • Climate change litigation and its integration with wider environmental concerns;
  • The existing and potential legislative responses to climate change mitigation and adaptation including market measures and energy related measures;
  • The impact of Australia’s federal governance framework on the form and effectiveness of climate change regulation; and
  • The necessary elements of a comprehensive and effective governance framework for climate change.

  • Research Essay of 4,500 words max (75%): independent research essay on a topic related to climate change law as approved by the coordinator;
  • Case study of 1,500 words on an allocated aspect of climate change law (25%).

Code 1 marking policy applies to marking of both the case study assignment and the research paper.

Prescribed Texts:
  • Nicola Durrant, Legal Responses to Climate Change (latest edition);
  • Specialist printed materials will also be made available from Melbourne Law School.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who have successfully completed this subject will have developed and demonstrated the following skills:

  • Mastery of theoretical knowledge and demonstrated ability to critically reflect on theory and professional practice on issues of climate change law;
  • Cognitive, technical and creative skills to investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories and to apply established theories to different areas of climate change regulation;
  • Advanced communication and technical research skills to justify and interpret theoretical propositions, methodologies, conclusions and professional decisions to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • High level technical and communication skills to design, evaluate, implement, analyse and theorise about developments that contribute to professional practice or legal scholarship, at both a domestic and international level;
  • Attitudes towards legal knowledge that include openness to new ideas and awareness of location and politics in its creation and use;
  • An applied understanding of diverse international, comparative and domestic legal materials;
  • An expanded capacity for self-directed legal research involving interdisciplinary materials and high level personal autonomy and accountability with respect to time management; and
  • An awareness of the value of collaborative learning in a participatory seminar style teaching environment.

Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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