Legal Concepts in Environmental Law

Environmental law is the law of environmental problems. As issues such as climate change, air quality and the VW emissions scandal highlight, environmental problems raise operational and conceptual challenges for governments, businesses and communities. These challenges are often centre stage and not easily contained or managed. The failure to adequately deal with environmental problems has been disastrous for communities, businesses and governments.

Having legal expertise in environmental law matters, but environmental problems involve a level of complexity lawyers are not often used to. They involve many different people, changing physical conditions, a range of different socio-political values, and knowledge of them is often limited. Traditional legal doctrines and concepts have not been developed with problems like this in mind. As this is the case, environmental law has evolved as a complex body of law at the national and international level through adapting legal ideas and developing new concepts to respond to these problems.

This course aims to foster legal expertise in this area through a comparative study of environmental law techniques. Particular attention is given to: understanding environmental problems and the types of legal issues they give rise to; developing skills in navigating environmental legislation and case law; developing an appreciation for the interaction between local, national, international and transnational regimes; and developing a sophisticated appreciation for legal reasoning in this area.

This course will be of interest to: students who are wanting to deepen their environmental law knowledge through in-depth comparative study; students exploring law and society interrelationships; and students who want to develop their skills for dealing with environmental law in different areas of legal practice. No prior knowledge is needed to do the course. This option will not be offered in 2024-25.