LLB Programmes


Professor Richard Macrory and Dr Jane Holder

This course is a response to the development of laws to protect the environment - at international, EC and national levels. It addresses the extent to which law can advance an environmental agenda. Main themes include: the contestability of ‘nature’, the distinction between environmental and ecological approaches, and managing risk. It will be of interest to students who are concerned with environmental issues. In recent years, students of this course have joined NGOs, become environmental law academics, solicitors in local planning authorities and management consultancies and have worked as environmental law specialists at the Bar. The course builds upon aspects of the Public Law and Law of the EC courses, but the latter is not a pre-requisite.

Aims and Objectives

The aims of this course are: to examine the legal and policy issues raised by the need to regulate polluting activities and land use in England and Wales and to foster an understanding of the fundamental principles and techniques of planning and environmental law and policy. At the end of the course it is hoped that students will be able to: appreciate the historical and theoretical context of environmental law and the significance of the United Kingdom’s approach to pollution control; show familiarity with the various techniques of control and enforcement; assess the extent to which EC law impacts upon and drives United Kingdom environmental law; and make judgements about the likely future development of this area of law.


The course is taught by a combination of seminars, lectures, group exercises - moots etc, and includes talks given by practitioners and academics in the field. Seminar discussion will be supplemented by field-trips to a local wetlands sanctuary for birds and to Docklands.

Course Outline

Introduction: The origins of environmental regulation in the public health campaigns of the nineteenth century; the meaning of ‘regulation’ in the context of land use and environmental protection; the history and evolution of regulatory agencies and the role of the courts in furthering environmental protection. Fundamental principles: sustainable development and precaution.Part I Environmental Law: The meaning of ‘risk’ and legal approaches to ‘managing’ risk: for example, that posed by genetically modified organisms; the British approach to pollution control - the development of integrated pollution control; water protection law; the problem of waste.

Part II Land Use, Development and Conservation: Planning policy and key actors in the production of the physical environment: farming interests, industrial and finance capital, administrators and political groupings; the development of structure and local planning; planning considerations and the development plan; planning obligations and planning agreements; enforcement of planning control; nature conservation, including SSSI reform and EC perspectives on environmental regulation.

Assessment will be by a 3 1/4 hour written examination in the Summer Term. Students are expected to write one course essay each term.

Recommended Text Books

We recommend S Bell and D. McGillivray, (2000) (5th ed) Environmental Law, Blackstone Press.

You should also use (though not necessarily purchase) S Elworthy and J Holder, Environmental Protection: Cases and Materials, (Butterworths, 1997).

Copies of these main texts are held at UCL main library. Printed materials, including cases, policy documents and articles will also be made available.

Please contact Jane Holder (email) for further information about this course.

National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT)
All applicants are required to take the LNAT as soon as possible and no later than 20 January (registration deadline 15 January).

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