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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.
Intended 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; and
- Key problems in the current environmental regime at the global level and ways to improve international environmental law.
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.
Last updated: 12 November 2022