LAW4679 - The law of climate change - 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)

Associate Professor Normann Witzleb

Unit guides



  • Term 3 2019 (On-campus block of classes)


  1. For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015: LAW1101 Introduction to legal reasoning

    LAW1104 Research and writing

  2. For students enrolled in the LLB (Honours) course from 2015:

    LAW1111 Foundations of law

    LAW1112 Public law and statutory interpretation

    LAW1113 Torts

    LAW1114 Criminal law 1

    LAW2101 Contract A

    LAW2102 Contract B

    LAW2111 Constitutional law

    LAW2112 Property A

  3. For other students:

    Equivalent introductory units from another university.


Climate change is among the most daunting problems the world faces in the 21st century. This unit deals with the legal dimension of climate change, paying due regard to its social, political and economic context. The unit will examine the development of national, supranational and international regulation, and explore how public and private actors mobilise instruments from different fields of law to facilitate or to undermine climate change mitigation and adaptation. This subject examines Australia's response to climate change at national and state levels, and compares to examples in foreign jurisdictions in key regions such as European Union, America, or Asia. Select topical or emerging issues are discussed in detail from areas such as market mechanisms, protection of carbon sinks, clean development, environmental refugees, food security, sustainable development goals etc.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a sound understanding of fundamental aspects of climate law, regarding key climate change bodies, fundamental principles of international climate change law, and the relationship between international, supra-national and national climate change responses
  2. Critically assess the role and contribution of Australian climate change law in the context of regional or national responses to climate change
  3. Undertake research into and analyse issues of climate change from a range of primary and secondary materials
  4. Use legal reasoning skills to develop arguments from based on principles of climate change law to address legal issues raised in factual scenarios
  5. Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, on current issues of climate change law in Australia, internationally, or select regions such as the US, Asia, or Europe
  6. Reflect on and assess their own capabilities and performance, and make use of feedback on their classroom performance to support personal and professional development


  1. Presentation: 10%
  2. Class participation: 10%
  3. Reflection paper (1,000 words): 20%
  4. Research paper (3,000 words): 60%

Workload requirements

Students will be required to attend 36 hours of classes, and undertake approximately an additional 108 hours of private study, including reading, class preparation, assignment preparation and revision time over the duration of the course.

See also Unit timetable information