LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Catherine Redgwell
Other Teachers:
Professor Michael Bowman (The University of Nottingham)
Dr Javier de Cendra de Larragan (UCL Laws/Energy Institute)
Professor Peter Davies (The University of Nottingham)
Panos Merkouris (Queen Mary, University of London)
Dr Ruth McKenzie (The University of Westminster)
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 20 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students, SIL students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core module for specialism: Environmental Law and Policy, International Law
Practice Assessment: to be confirmed
Assessment method for LLM students: 3-hour unseen written examination
Assessment method for SIL students: 3.000 word coursework essay
Module Overview

Module summary

The module consists of several distinct parts: History and Sources of IEL; Principles of IEL; Enforcing IEL; and Protection of the Atmosphere, Ozone Layer and Climate; Marine Environment; Species and Habitat Protection; Conservation of Biodiversity and Biosafety; and an Evaluation of MEAs from the Governance and Trade perspectives. In the first term a brief introduction to the actors and agencies in the field of international environmental law is provided, and identification of the sources of international environmental law. The principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle, and equity-based approaches are discussed in turn. The focus then shifts to state responsibility for environmental harm, access to environmental justice and dispute resolution. In the final weeks of the first term and the second term of the module the seminars turn to case studies (the atmosphere – air pollution, ozone depletion and climate change; marine resources; species and habitat protection – including trade in endangered species; and biodiversity conservation). These case studies are presented by various lecturers on the module, each in the field of his or her own expertise. The module concludes with an assessment of environmental governance and of the efficacy of the regulatory tools (including market and trade-related mechanisms) used to achieve environmental objectives.

Module syllabus

I. History and Sources of International Environmental Law (IEL)

1. Introduction to IEL – History, Sources, Tools and Techniques
2. Actors and Factors in Environmental Treaty-Making

II Principles of IEL

3. Principles Case Study I: Sustainable Development
4. Principles Case Study II: The Precautionary Principle
5. Principles Case Study III: Common but Differentiated Responsibilities

III Principles of State Responsibility and Dispute Resolution: Enforcing IEL

6. State Responsibility and Environmental Dispute Settlement
7. Litigating International Environmental Law before National and International Courts
8. Alternatives to Environmental Dispute Settlement: Non-Compliance Procedures

IV Atmosphere: Air Pollution, Ozone Depletion and Climate Change

9. LRTAP, Ozone
10. Climate Change I: UNFCCC
11. Climate Change II: From Kyoto to Durban and Beyond

V Marine Environment

12. Law of the Sea and Marine Pollution
13. Marine Mammals and Fisheries Conservation

VI Species and Habitat Protection

14. Whales
16. Birds and Migratory Species
17. World Heritage

VI Conservation of Biological Diversity and Biosafey

18. Biodiversity I: CBD
19. Biodiversity II: Cartagena Protocol
20. Exam Review/Mock Examination

Recommended materials

The recommended module textbook is Patricia Birnie, Alan Boyle and Catherine Redgwell, International Law and the Environment, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition (2009). Students may also wish to refer to Philippe Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 3rd edition (2012) and M Bowman, P Davies and C Redgwell, Lyster’s International Wildlife Law, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition (2010).

Preliminary reading

Chapter 1 of Birnie, Boyle and Redgwell (above) or chapter 1 of Sands (above) or chapters 1 and 2 of Bowman, Davies and Redgwell (above) or C. Redgwell, ‘International Environmental Law’ in M. Evans (ed), International Law (3rd edn, OUP 2010), chapter 23.

Some background reading in public international law is recommended if not previously studied. A good source is Vaughan Lowe, International Law (Clarendon Press, 2007), chs. 1-2 (general overview, and how international law is made) and ch. 7 (on the global environment).

Other information:

A reading list with identified essential reading and questions for discussion will be provided for each topic. For treaties and other legal background materials, most instruments are easily (and freely) available online.

Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.