LL4A6      Half Unit
Climate Change and International Law

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stephen Humphreys NAB6.15


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Human Rights and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.

Course content

This course covers international law in relation to climate change with a view to assessing how the harms and burdens associated with climate change are governed and allocated in different legal regimes. The course adopts the stance that the political and legal questions raised by climate change cannot be addressed by reference to climate change law or international environmental law alone. Climate change gives rise to a series of profound problems touching upon a range of bodies of law (trade, human rights, migration, investment, state responsibility) in a complex political and ethical environment. In approaching climate change as a concrete concern relevant to these various bodies of law and practice, the course will address the normative bases for choosing between actions designed to prevent and/or manage climate change and its consequences, given developmental imperatives and the concerns raised by the 'fragmented' nature of international law. Projected seminars include: climate change science, politics and ethics; the theory of international law; international environmental law; trade law; human rights law; migration law. The course includes two case studies, from among the following: climate technology transfer; carbon markets; food security.


20 hours of lectures in the LT. 4 hours of lectures in the ST.

There will be a reading week in week 6. 

Formative coursework

One 1,800 word essay to be submitted by the end of week 6.

Indicative reading

IPCC, Fifth Assessment Report, Cambridge UP (2013-14); Rosemary Rayfuse and Shirley Scott (eds), International Law in the Era of Climate Change, Edward Elgar (2011); Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson and Henry Shue (eds), Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, Oxford UP (2010); Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, Cambridge UP (2007); Stephen Humphreys (ed.), Climate Change and Human Rights, Cambridge UP (2010); Larry Lohmann, Carbon Trading, Dag Hammerskjöld Foundation (2006); Lavanya Rajamani, Differential Treatment in International Environmental Law, Oxford UP (2006); Margaret Young (ed.), Regime Interaction in International Law: Facing Fragmentation, Cambridge UP (2012).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 21

Average class size 2018/19: 21

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills