International Environmental Law

The details
Essex Law School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
27 October 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module introduces students to the international legal and governance mechanisms concerning the environment.

It examines key principles under international law related to the environment, such as sustainable development and precaution. It then goes on to consider salient aspects of international environmental law as it applies to specific regimes such as those related to climate change, biodiversity protection, freshwater management and the management of hazardous waste.

It also considers the relationship that exists between international environmental law and other areas of law that intersect with it, such as human rights and the law of armed conflict.

Throughout the module it will introduce students to the structural dimensions of existing international environmental law that have resulted from North-South relations and provides students with a basis upon which consideration can be given to the related issues of equity, common but differentiated responsibility and environmental justice.

Module aims

This module aims to:

Provide students with an understanding of the way that international institutions work to manage and govern the environment;

Develop an in-depth understanding of the general principles of international environmental law and sustainable development;

Introduce students to different areas of environmental law such as biodiversity management and climate change; and

Enable students to appreciate the North-South dimensions of international environmental law and the relationship that it has with equity, common but differentiated responsibility and environmental justice.

Module learning outcomes

After the successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Identify the key principles, actors and institutions relevant to international environmental law;

2. Understand the sources of international environmental law;

3. Demonstrate sound knowledge of the key principles under international environmental law and their application to specific areas such as climate change or biodiversity;

4. Explain the relationship between domestic and international environmental law; and

5. Critically evaluate the linkage between other areas of public international law (such as humanitarian law) and international environmental law.

Module information

An indicative outline of teaching for this module would be as follows:

Week 1 Historical Development of International Environmental Law
Week 2 Sources of International Environmental Law
Week 3 Key Principles: Sustainable Development & Precautionary Principle
Week 4 Key Principles: Differential Treatment and North-South Relations
Week 5 Hazardous Waste / Transboundary Pollution
Week 6 Biodiversity
Week 7 Climate Change I
Week 8 Climate Change II
Week 9 Armed Conflict and the Environment
Week 10 Armed Conflict and the Environment II

Learning and teaching methods

This module is taught through a mixture of pre-recorded lectures and 10 weekly 50-minute small group tutorials. Each week before your tutorials, the module teaching team will make available on Moodle two or more pre-recorded video lectures that they have prepared and produced. In total, the duration of each week's video lectures will be approximately 50 minutes .In most teaching weeks, you will be expected to have watched these lectures before the tutorials, although some of these lectures may be designed to be watched after the tutorials to recap on material discussed there. The module teaching team will also produce and make available on Moodle short guidance notes for each weekly tutorial. These notes will introduce the readings that must be completed in advance of each tutorial and will contain tips to help you understand and analyse those texts. You will be expected to have completed the readings in advance of your tutorials. Your tutorials will enable you to discuss the readings in the context of specific tutorial questions, to obtain feedback on your pre-class preparation and to deepen your understanding of key concepts. To help you prepare in the best possible way for your tutorials, you will be completing regular Multiple-Choice Quizzes on Moodle. The quizzes will be based on the reading set for that week so that the quiz forms part of your preparation for each tutorial. The quizzes will enable you to track your progress, understand what you are doing well, and give you clear feedback to help you manage your studies and your progress.


  • Beyerlin, Ulrich; Marauhn, Thilo. (2016-08-19) International Environmental Law: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Germany.
  • Dupuy, Pierre-Marie; Vinuales, Jorge E. (2019-08-12) International Environmental Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing).
  • Birnie, Patricia W; Boyle, Alan E; Redgwell, Catherine. (2009) International law and the environment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Summative Essay    80% 
Practical   Multiple-Choice Quizzes    20% 

Additional coursework information

80% Summative Essay 20% Multiple-Choice Quizzes

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Stephen Turner, email: sjturner@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Stephen Turner, Birsha Ohdehar
Law General Offcie: lawugadmin@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 1205 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
1205 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Law School

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