LAW5313 - Planning and environmental law - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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



Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Not offered in 2019


For students enrolled in the Juris Doctor, completion of 72 credit points of core units.

For students enrolled in a Masters degree, completion of LAW5000 or LAW5081.


The population of metropolitan Melbourne is growing rapidly, passing 5 million in July 2019 and anticipated to grow to more than 8 million by 2050. This is the current size of London and New York. According to the Victorian Government's strategic planning policy Plan Melbourne this growth requires another 1.5 million jobs, 1.6 million homes and a transport network supporting more than 80% increase in utilisation (to 10 million trips per day). This places Melbourne on the path to be a mega city (a population of more than 10 million according the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs). There are huge technological, economic, social and environmental changes which will impact the future city. Strategic urban planning (such as Plan Melbourne), and legal framework for implementing that planning policy, is critical to delivering a sustainable, liveable, smart and resilient city. Planning policy creates a vision and direction of what we want the city to be, but that vision and directions are often contested, and the implementation of policy must consider a huge range of issues, interests and stakeholders. Important issues such as urban congestion, urban density, transport infrastructure, provision of services (energy, water, telecommunications), housing availability, housing affordability, the location and changing nature of work, urban sprawl, loss of agricultural land and biodiversity, land use change and remediation for former industrial land, protecting cultural heritage, mitigating and adapting to climate change, controlling pollution, waste management and resource recovery, regional and inter-city connections. All of these issues (and more) are played out daily in the planning and environment legal framework.

This unit will focus on how Victorian planning and environment legislation, key institutions, decision-makers and forums for dispute resolution and inquiry, address these complex and challenging issues. The unit will focus on the legal framework for urban planning, development approval, impact assessment, facilitating major projects (including major transport, energy, waste and land use change projects); the role of key decision makers in Victoria including the planning and environment ministers, councils, referral authorities and other government agencies, and forums for dispute resolution and inquiry including the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Planning Panels and Advisory Committees.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the key pieces of planning and environment legislation to the assessment and approval of major projects and resolution of disputes and issues associated with the rapid urban growth of our cities with creativity and initiative to new situations in professional practice and/or for further learning;
  • Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to foundational aspects of planning and environment law, the balancing of interests of multiple stakeholders and forums for resolving disputes and inquiring into particular projects and planning and environmental issues;
  • Conduct research into legal policy and rules relating to planning and environment law, key strategic planning policies and planning instruments based on knowledge of appropriate research principle and methods; and
  • Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to planning and environment law.


Research assignment (4,500 words): 60%

Take-home examination (3,000 words): 30%

Seminar presentation 30 mins: 10%

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)