Law and The Environment

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Veerle Heyvaert

Also taught by: Mr Jakub Bokes


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.

Course content

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 responsibilities of and the relationship between Parliament, the Governmentthe Court, environmental agencies and devolved administrations, and consider the 2021 Environment Act as a blueprint for the future of environmental protection 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.  We study mandatory permitting approaches, and also pay attention to the role of ESG and CSR in shaping the environmental performance of private actors. We examine the relationship between international trade law and environmental protection, both generally and in the context of climate change.  Section IV also addresses the legacy of industrial exploitation and examines and examines the legal framework for the clean up of contaminated land.

V.  The future of environmental law

The final section focuses on new and upcoming developments in environmental law, both at the UK level and beyond. It includes an examination of the role of human rights in the pursuit of environmental protection, and discusses the potential for animal and nature rights.


This course is delivered through a weekly 2-hour seminar totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Autumn Term and Winter Term.  This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Autumn Term and Winter Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write a formative essay and participate in a mock exam.

Indicative reading

There is no set textbook that covers the entire course. Several sessions use either:

  • Bell, McGillivray, Pedersen et. al, Environmental Law (9th edition, Oxford University Press, 2017) or;
  • Fisher, Lange & Scotford, Environmental Law. Text, Cases and Materials (2nd edition, OUP, 2019).

Both these books are available online via the LSE library. A detailed reading list is provided for each seminar. Materials that are not sourced from the textbooks are made available on Moodle. Older but still 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 (100%, duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 29

Average class size 2022/23: 30

Capped 2022/23: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills