International Environmental Law

Subject LAWS50133 (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: 24 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours.

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

Students are strongly recommended to study LAWS50041 Public International Law prior to undertaking this subject. Students are also recommended to take LAWS50078 Environmental Law prior to undertaking this subject.

Non Allowed Subjects:
Core Participation Requirements:

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 at 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 specialised field of international environmental law. 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 upon 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. Case studies considered throughout the subject will provide students with an understanding of recent developments in the disciplinary area.

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 rationale for and historical development of international environmental law;
  • The fundamental principles and concepts underpinning international environmental law (such as sustainable development, the precautionary principle, inter-generational equity etc) and their evolving meaning;
  • The pervasive nature of international environmental regulation, the actors that shape it and the challenges faced;
  • The contribution of cases, treaties and institutions to the development of international environmental law;
  • Key problems in the current environmental regime at the global level and ways to improve international environmental law.
  • Applied case study analysis: 2,000 words maximum (30%);
  • Independent research paper of 4,500 words maximum (70%).
Prescribed Texts:

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

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

On completion of the subject, students should have developed and demonstrated expert skills, including:

  • Mastery of theoretical knowledge and demonstrated ability to critically reflect on theory and practice on issues of international environmental 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 international environmental regulation;
  • Communication and technical research skills to justify and interpret theoretical propositions, methodologies, conclusions and professional decisions to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • Technical and communication skills to design, evaluate, implement, analyse and theorise about developments that contribute to international environmental practice or legal scholarship;
  • 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 and transnational 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 and participation in a seminar style teaching environment.
Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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