Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module LAW41030: Environmental Law and International Trade

Department: Law

LAW41030: Environmental Law and International Trade

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.
Tied to M1K116
Tied to M1K316
Tied to M1K616


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The aims of the module are:
  • to provide students with a general understanding of the laws, structures and policies adopted by the international community with regard to the environment;
  • to examine the impact of these laws, policies and structures on domestic legislation using examples and case studies from different jurisdictions, including the US, the EU and the developing world;
  • to introduce the concept of environmental legal risk in commercial contracts by examining the effect of environmental legislation on international trade and business transactions and to explore different ways of mitigating it.


  • Part I: Introduction to International Environmental Law:
  • 1. Introduction to the formulation of international environmental law and policy- relevant bodies and structures.
  • 2. Fundamental principles of international environmental law.
  • 3. Law of the sea and protection of the marine environment.
  • 4. Air pollution (emphasis on climate change although there will be mention of other issues such as ozone layer depletion and initiatives thereon).
  • 5. Environmental Law and Human Rights.
  • Part II: International Trade and Environmental Protection:
  • 6. The multilateral trading system.
  • Part III: National and regional responses: case studies of environmental protection regimes that affect national and international trade and business transactions:
  • 7. Introduction to the concept of environmental legal risk in commercial contracts (issues to include bases of liability, enforcement and legal/financial implications on private parties).
  • 8. Case studies from at least 4 jurisdictions to include the UK and at least one developing country.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should gain understanding of:
  • the international and national mechanisms of environmental protection and its effect on international trade;
  • responses from the commercial world to the issue of environmental legal risk in international and domestic commercial contracts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In terms of skills, students should be able to:
  • interpret and critically evaluate international environmental law and its implementation into national legislation;
  • identify relevant rights and obligations of states and individuals under international and domestic environmental protection legislation and apply these to business and trade transactions that involve environmentally sensitive subject-matters;
  • analyse the effect of relevant environmental protection rules on trade, having specific regard to issues of liability and enforcement, and advise accordingly.
Key Skills:
  • Students should also:
  • demonstrate an ability to understand and critically analyse complex issues of international and comparative law;
  • develop skills in conducting research into and understanding complex materials.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The teaching will be based on Socratic seminars supported by substantial but targeted reading assignments before each seminar session. The readings are selected from both established doctrinal sources as well as cutting-edge scholarship in the area. The seminars will work from a basic level of doctrinal knowledge and build on that foundation into discussions of more difficult and controversial issues within the sub-discipline. This will encourage students to learn the material and develop the ability to discuss it and understand where each aspect of the reading fits in with the relevant debates.
  • The assessment supports the aims of the teaching methods. The summative essay will assess the ability of the students not only to analyse the subject material, but to perform research in the sub-discipline, and present a structured, articulate argument on the subject. The teaching and assessment will enable students to derive material from a variety of sources and develop the ability to analyse this area of law.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 15 2hrs 30
Preparation and reading 270

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 6000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

The format of the assessment will depend on the level of participation displayed by the students during the seminars. It may include a forum discussion on a topic posted on DUO for a period of time for the purpose of assessing the students’ understanding of the material.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University