UCL Faculty of Laws


Environmental Lawyering (LAWS0333)

This module explores environmental lawyers (including lawyering, litigation, and access to environmental justice) in a contemporary, communicative, and critical way.

The fields of environmental litigation and access to environmental justice are highly contentious for both legal and political reasons and this module will equip students with vital legal skills and knowledge to navigate contested social issues that manifest in environmental lawyering and dispute resolution. Students will explore fundamental concepts and concerns (which may include such topics as environmental ethics, environmental justice, environmental cause lawyering, the funding of cases, the law on standing) and then draw on those concepts and concerns in a variety of different local, national and global contexts (for example, climate change, the oil and gas sector, ‘toxic torts’). The precise syllabus will vary from year to year.   

We have two core aims for the module. The first is for students to make connections between substantive issues in environmental law and the ways in those issues are (permitted or not permitted to be) played out by lawyers and other actors in courts, tribunals and other dispute resolution fora. We want students to engage in the challenges in having environmental disputes adjudicated, funded, organized etc. Our second core aim is for the students on this module to think about how we communicate our environmental expertise to the wider world. As such, students will leave this module able to better articulate their ideas and their learning to audiences inside and outside the academy.

Part of the final assessment on the module requires students to produce an output. The output can take a variety of forms (including blogs, research briefings, videos, artistic or visual pieces, short stories) and must connect to one of the topics covered on the module. For example, students might prepare a cartoon to help explain climate change litigation to GCSE age children, or a Research Briefing for environmental NGOs on the costs of bringing environmental cases.

Recommended Materials

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment. No single book takes the approach envisaged for this module. The convenor is happy to discuss reading if contacted by a student during the module.

Preliminary Reading

The following is optional reading that might help set the scene for some of the issues and ideas we will explore in this module:

  • Lisa Vanhala, ‘Legal Opportunity Structures and the Paradox of Legal Mobilization by the Environmental Movement in the UK’ (2012) 46(3) Law and Society Review 523

  • Sarat and S. Schneigold (eds) The Cultural Lives of Cause Lawyers (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Christine Parker, Rob Rosen and Vibeke Nielsen, ‘The Two Faces of Lawyers: Professional Ethics and Business Compliance with Regulation’ (2009) 22 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 201

Key information

Module details
Credit value:

22.5 credits (225 learning hours)


Professor Steven Vaughan

Other Teachers:

Professor Maria Lee

Sarah de Gay

Jeff Twentyman

Teaching Delivery:

10 x 2 Hour weekly seminars, Term One

Who may enrol:

LLM Students Only



Must not be taken with:


Qualifying module for:

LLM in Energy Law;
LLM in Environmental Law and Policy;
LLM in Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Practice Assessment:

Opportunity for feedback on practice essay 

Final Assessment:

Output for Audience (50%)

10 Minute Oral Reflection (50%)