Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module LAW44915: Global Environmental Law

Department: Law

LAW44915: Global Environmental Law

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To familiarise students with the core institutions, structures, norms, rules and principles, at the global level, which seek to govern the relationship between human beings and the environment in which they live.
  • To enable students to understand the legal nature and function of these institutions, structures, norms, rules and principles, and obstacles to further achievement.
  • To appraise the achievements of and challenges faced by legal attempts to govern the global environment.


  • A selection of topics in the following indicative areas will run in each year:
  • The history of efforts to govern the global environment.
  • The principle of sustainable development.
  • Core principles in international environmental law.
  • International climate governance.
  • The international governance response to the depletion of the ozone layer.
  • Regulating the trade in endangered species (the ‘Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species’).
  • Regulating the loss of global biodiversity (the ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’).
  • Environmental governance of the world’s oceans.
  • International human rights law and the protection of the global environment.
  • International trade law and the protection of the global environment.
  • Pollution of the world’s oceans: Liability Regimes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature, scope, successes and failures of legal efforts to govern the global environment.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Analyse and evaluate the existing law in light of relevant legal, social, political and moral perspectives.
  • Contextualise legal responses to global environmental challenges by reference to social, economic, political and cultural factors.
  • Engage in informed debate concerning the state of global environmental law and the prospects for future legal responses to environmental challenges.
Key Skills:
  • In the course of studying for / completing the assessments on this course, students will develop and demonstrate the facility to:
  • Undertake independent research.
  • Understand and critically analyse complex issues of international law and policy concerning the governance of the global environment.

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

  • Seminars are designed to introduce students to central issues in global environmental law (theoretical and practical). Seminars will be based on structured reading lists (academic literature, international and comparative law materials). A set of questions, to be answered on the basis of the reading material for that seminar, will be included with each reading list. Discussion in seminars will focus on the development of students' ability to frame, defend, and support an arguent that responds to those questions.
  • Assessment by essay will develop / demonstrate students' abilities to undertake research with international and comparative law materials relating to global environmental law, and to think critically and engage with relevant debates.
  • Feedback on formative and summative assessment to be provided in accordance with Law School feedback policies

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 weekly 2 hour 16
Preparation and reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 100% Essay 3000 words

Formative Assessment:

Essay 1500 words

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