MSc Environmental Impact Assessment & Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course unit details:
Concepts in Environmental Law

Unit code PLAN60442
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Environment, Education and Development
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The workshops will address the following:

  • An introduction to law and the environment
  • A discussion of key environmental principles, focusing on sustainable development and public participation in environmental decision-making
  • An evaluation of the law relating to climate change, and an analysis of the political/economic/social dimension of reaching agreement on global climate change law and policy
  • A critical analysis of traditional regulatory mechanisms, most notably command and control or direct regulation and its enforcement
  • A critical evaluation of the ‘new’ governance mechanisms utilised in the climate change context, focusing on emissions trading and reflexive forms of governance


1. To acquire an understanding of the legal, institutional and policy framework which structures and regulates decision-making concerning the environment, using climate change as a case study
2. To develop a knowledge of the legal concepts, procedures and techniques which have evolved
3. To subject existing procedures and techniques to critical analysis

Teaching and learning methods

This course will place prime importance on student-centred learning. Every week, students will have a two-hour workshop session which will provide an overview and explanation of core concepts and legal issues. Student activities will include large and small-group discussions and problem solving exercises. Students' active participation is expected in these workshop sessions and with this in mind, each student will be provided with a workbook of reading materials in advance of each class. These will be designed to supplement reading from the core text.

Knowledge and understanding

Understand and critically evaluate the importance of key environmental principles and their role in shaping law and policy

Evaluate the origins, nature and scope of national, EU and international efforts to combat climate change

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different regulatory mechanisms used in environmental law and climate change more specifically

Consider emerging trends in the approach to climate change

Intellectual skills

Assemble relevant information and subject it to critical legal analysis
Engage in and cultivate reasoned legal and policy arguments, by way of both oral and written presentation
Develop research skills in a legal context

Practical skills

Students will receive practice in essay writing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will be able to develop their oral and written communication skills and will have the opportunity to develop their research skills (through preparation for workshops and coursework).

Assessment methods

Non-Assessed Essay (2000 words) This is a formative essay which will give students the opportunity to obtain feedback on a written piece of work that does not count towards the final mark.

Essay (4000 words) 100%

Feedback methods

Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days of submission of each assignment.

Recommended reading

Bell, S., McGillivray, D. and Pedersen, O. (2013) Environmental Law. (8th ed, OUP).

Wilkinson, D. (2002) Environment and Law. (Routledge)

Holder, J. and Lee, M. (2007) Environmental Protection, Law and Policy: Text and Materials (CUP, 7th ed.)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carolyn Abbot Unit coordinator

Return to course details