LAW4313 - International environmental law - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Semester 2: Associate Professor Gerry Nagtzaam

Quota applies

The number of places available for a unit taught in Prato is strictly limited to 45. This is the maximum room capacity at the Prato Centre.

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later:

LAW1111; LAW1114; LAW1112; LAW1113; LAW2101; LAW2102; LAW2112; LAW2111

For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015: LAW1100 OR LAW1101 and LAW1102 or LAW1104


This subject is designed to provide both a comprehensive and critical introduction to international environmental law. The subject introduces students to the broad political challenges raised by the global environmental crisis both in the developed and developing world. The general historical evolution of international environmental law will be analyzed with particular emphasis given to the major international treaties negotiated over the last four decades, and the major principles of international environmental law (represented in both 'hard' and 'soft' law).


Upon successful completion of this unit students are expected to demonstrate:

critically analyse the historical evolution of international environmental law and policy in response to the increasingly global nature of ecological problems

demonstrate intellectual and creative skills to articulate the diverse ideological character and claims of the modern environment movement and the major lines of contestation in the broader global environmental debate

reflect on and assess the major sources and principles of 'hard' and 'soft' international environmental law and the key principles and cases which have shaped the law's development

demonstrate cognitive and creative skills in approaching complex issues pertaining to the international response to environmental concerns including climate change, protection of the marine environment, protection of the polar regions, biodiversity and international trade

critically analyse the role of key actors and institutions in the evolution of international environmental law, including states, NGOs, TNCs, the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions

apply intellectual skills to recognise the major environment and development tensions and debates within the national, international and global communities, particularly the sustainable development debate and the tensions between environmental and economic discourses and modes of global governance

be able to reflect upon and identify the different ways in which new environmental issues, actors, interests and agendas have challenged the basic norms and institutions of global governance, particularly the system of sovereign states, environmental multilateralism, and the norms and institutions of global economic governance

be able to critically evaluate the different global institutional responses to global ecological problems

have developed a critical appreciation of cross-cutting and emerging issues of international environmental law such as human rights, indigenous people, war and the environment and the perspectives of various actors in evolving those issues.

have developed an ability to think critically and present a reasoned argument in relation to key developments and problems in international environmental law and policy

be able to critically assess where international environmental law can be expected to develop in the future.


Research paper (2500 words): 50%

Take-home examination (2500 words): 50%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information