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International Environmental Law - JURD7619
 Law Books

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  School of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: Academic Program must be either 9200, 9210, 9230, 9240, 5740, or 5760
Excluded: LAWS8319
Fee Band:   (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course will provide students with an overview of the development of international environmental law throughout the twentieth century as well as the major theoretical and policy debates that surround it. Attention will primarily be devoted to the international legal responses to global and regional environmental and resource management issues. Basic principles will be discussed prior to taking a sectoral approach in looking at the application of international environmental law in certain specific issue areas. The course does not have an Australian focus. Rather, focus will be international legal and policy responses adopted to deal with environmental problems in an international and transboundary context.

This course is also available to students undertaking relevant postgraduate non-law degree programs at UNSW provided such enrolment is approved by the appopriate non-law Faculty.

LLM Specialisations

International Law; Human Rights and Social Justice.

Recommended Prior Knowledge

None, but LAWS8180 Principles of International Law or equivalent is a recommended pre- or co-requisite.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course you should be able to:
  • Recall and recount the historical origins and specifics of the on-going development of the current international environmental legal regime
  • Explain in your own words the meaning of legal concepts, doctrines and principles we have studied
  • Comprehend and evaluate the importance of international environmental law to international relations and the requirements of the international community in protecting the global environment
  • Identify and analyse issues involved in international environmental disputes
  • Identify some key areas of international environmental law which are currently the subject of debate and reform
  • Demonstrate your ability to research and access information on international environmental law issues
  • Demonstrate your ability to think critically and to justify your ideas in a reasoned manner and communicate effectively, in speaking and writing, on matters concerning international environmental law issues

Main Topics

  • Introduction to international environmental law
  • Sources and principles of international environmental law
  • Air and atmospheric pollution
  • The marine environment
  • Climate change
  • Biological resources
  • Polar environments
  • Trade and the environment
  • Human rights and the environment


Class participation Preparation and engagement in class, including presentation 25%
Take-home exam OR Research essay Essay: 5,000 - 7,000 words 75%

Course Texts


  • P. Birnie, A. Boyle and C. Redgwell, International Law and the Environment (3d) (Oxford University Press, 2008)

P. Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law (2d) (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

In addition to the text, students will be expected to read widely in order to gain a full understanding of the subject matter. There is a vast array of literature on all aspects of International Environmental Law and the UNSW Law Library has very good holdings in this area. Students will also need to familiarise themselves with documentation issued by international organisations available on the internet and with the online resources available through Sirius.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.