Not available in 2021/22
Law and The Environment
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Prof Veerle Heyvaert
This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics, BSc in International Relations and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
The aim of this course is to study and understand how law can be used as a tool to pursue environmental goals and to think critically about law’s contribution to local and global environmental protection.
I. General features of environmental law in the UK:
The introductory sessions examine how we understand ‘the value of the environment’ as an object of legal protection, and how environmental law evolved through time. We review international and EU law as important sources of environmental law in the UK, and consider the impacts of Brexit. We study the notions of ‘risk’ and ‘precaution’ as key concepts of environmental regulation, and examine how the relationship between Parliament, the Government and the Environment Agency affects the effectiveness of environmental laws and rules in the UK.
II. Controlling space
This section reviews legal strategies for environmental protection through the management of the built environment, parks and nature. It covers planning law, environmental impact assessment, and nature conservation law.
III. Controlling climate change
Seminars on climate change examine international law and the politics of climate change, different regulatory strategies to respond to the climate change challenge, and climate change litigation.
IV. Controlling enterprise
Section IV looks at how environmental harm can be prevented or limited by regulating heavily polluting industries, by targeting particular products (such as dangerous chemicals), or by focusing on particular activities (such as international trade). We examine how environmental regulation aims to balance between restricting hazardous activities on the one hand, and fostering free enterprise on the other, and review the court’s role in adjusting this balance.
V. Remedying environmental harm
The final section examines the role of both case law and regulation in the remediation of environmental harm, paying attention to clean-up of contaminated land, common law and human rights based approaches to compensation, and legal responses to international environmental disasters
This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year some or all of this teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus. This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Michaelmas Term and Lent Term.
Students are expected to write a formative essay; answer a problem set in writing; and participate in a mock exam.
There is no set book that covers the entire course, however, several sessions use Bell, McGillivray, Pedersen et. al, Environmental Law (9th edition, Oxford University Press, 2017). A detailed reading list is provided for each seminar. Materials that are not sourced from Bell, McGillivray & Pedersen are made available on Moodle.
A good alternative source is Fisher, Lange & Scotford, Environmental Law. Text, Cases and Materials (OUP, 2013). Useful introductory books include: Lazarus, The Making of Environmental Law, 2004; Holder & Lee, Environmental Protection, Law & Policy, 2007; R Carson, Silent Spring, 1962; R Eckersley, Environmentalism and Political Theory,1992.
Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Essay (50%, 4000 words).
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Total students 2020/21: 24
Average class size 2020/21: 12
Capped 2020/21: Yes (25)
Value: One Unit
Personal development skills
- Specialist skills