LAW5389 - The law of climate change - 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.



Chief examiner(s)

Dr Vanessa Johnston

Quota applies

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

Unit guides



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


For postgraduate Law discontinuation dates, please see

For postgraduate Law unit timetables, please see

Previously coded as LAW7434


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 the 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.


  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 and evaluate the role and contribution of Australian climate change law in the context of regional or national responses to climate change;
  3. Undertake research, investigate, analyse and synthesise complex issues of climate change from a range of primary and secondary materials;
  4. Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to identify issues of climate change law in factual scenarios and to develop complex arguments for the appropriate application of principles of climate change law to address these issues;
  5. Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, on current issues of climate change law and the application of underlying legal principles in Australia, internationally, or select regions such as the US, Asia, or Europe; and
  6. Reflect on and assess their own capabilities and performance, and make use of feedback on performance to support personal and professional development.


Presentation: 10%

Class participation: 10%

Reflection paper(1,500 words): 20%

Research paper(4,500 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.