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Course Information Undergraduate prospectus

Environmental Law and Policy

Course summary

Course code: ENVI1069
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Pharm, Chemical and Envi Science
Course Coordinator(s): Robert Black


Introduction and rationale

Environmental law is a fast changing and rapidly developing area of law, offering its own distinctive methodology and approach to problem solving through a combination of regulatory approaches that include licensing conditions, inspection procedures, the use of courts and different modes of self-regulation. It has, as its main objective, the protection of some aspect of the environment and its effect on people or wildlife. The policies pursued in protecting the environment are also important in understanding the basis of legal rules, and furthermore, understanding environmental policy is essential as an aid to interpreting the application of legal powers and in providing the context for an understanding of environmental problems.

Laws and regulations affect us all in our everyday lives, and laws and regulations that affect the environment will be of fundamental importance and of relevance to Master's students of all environmental disciplines.


• To provide a grounding in the judicial systems of the UK and EU.
• To identify the main actors in the legal regimes of environmental protection, and the main mechanisms of control.
• To provide an explanation of the scientific and economic developments that provide the context for an understanding of the law.
• To provide students with a knowledge and understanding of the development of environmental law & policy at UK, EU and International levels, and its role in protection of the environment.
• To provide a critical analysis of the principles underlying the legal protection of the terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric environments.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 demonstrate the nature and importance of the Common Law, Criminal Law, European Law and International Law as applied to the environment.
2 express an understanding of policy and decision-making processes at national government and EU level, and an awareness of contemporary environmental policy in the UK, the EU and at international level.
3 correctly advise/alert a company, organisation or individual on a number of key principles of environmental law.
4 critically assess the legal arguments offered in defence of current case law.
5 use different sources of law, with critical insight, to assess possible legal actions against individuals and organisations.
6 appreciate the role of the planning system in environmental protection.

Indicative content

Introduction to the Law and the Legal system - UK: Sources of Law, Common Law and Environmental Protection, EC law, International Law.

International environmental policy: Development of law and policy, Role of IGOs and NGOs Sustainability and development, the Brundtland Report, the Earth Summit, Agenda 21 - Rio declaration, and the Durban and Nygoya follow ups. EC Environmental Policy: Institutional and policy processes, development of EU Policy, Environmental action Programmes. UK Environmental Policy:- Introduction to Policy Making Process, Applications to Environmental Issues at Local/Central Government Levels, role of Interest and Pressure Groups.

Teaching and learning activity

Lectures, seminars, group work and individual presentations.

There is a visit to POST, situated in Portcullis House in Westminster, which provides an opportunity to interact with the special group of advisers who advise both chambers on science and technology policy. POST is actively engaged in environmental matters and the presentations from the POST team and ensuing discussing are chosen for their relevance to the course. The visit to POST is preceded by an official tour of the Houses of Parliament, which provides fascinating historical and political background to law and legislation in the UK.

Learning Time (1 credit = 10 hours)

Scheduled contact hours:
lectures 30
seminars 6
other practical sessions
other scheduled time 6
Guided independent study

Independent coursework 60
Independent laboratory work
other non-scheduled time 48
Placements (including work placement and year abroad) 0
Total hours (should add to credits * 10) 150


Summative assessment - Report - 20%
Formative assessment - Presentation.
1000 words.
LO - 1, 2, 4, 6.
Short report as synopsis of formative presentation on statutory frameworks.

Summative assessment - Presentation - 40%
LO - 3, 4.
Presentation on a selected case study.

Summative assessment - Report - 40%
2000 words.
LO - 3, 4, 5.
Case study report.

Pass mark - 50%