Taught course

International Environmental Law

Durham University · Department of Law

Entry requirements

A good 2:1 degree (or its equivalent) in law, or in a degree in which law is a major component.

Months of entry


Course content

Our LLM in International Environmental Law equips you with the skills and knowledge to make your own contribution to how governments and organisations are seeking to address the profound environment and climate challenges that are having a massive impact on the lives of people around the world.

You will learn about legal techniques and instruments such as treaty-making, governance and legal orders that provide the framework on which internationally agreed environmental goals are based and which support action taken to tackle issues such as environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change, ozone depletion and plastic pollution.

You will also learn about renewable energy and the role of carbon markets and trading regimes and, as well as climate litigation, you will study the crucial human rights dimension in the protection of the environment and the role of the judiciary in governing action taken and changes made.

The course is delivered against a backdrop of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and will look at international treaties on environmental protection and at the science driving legal developments, providing you with in-depth learning on the principles of international environmental law and on the relationship between legal systems and science in developing such law.

In particular, you will study the Paris Agreement, which represents a significant milestone in the area of international climate change and will look at the objectives and concepts of the agreement in the context of societal change, equity, and the role of science.

The course is designed to address how international environmental law is constantly evolving, how it has shaped legal principles, and how it works together with other areas of law.

Core modules

International Law on Climate Change introduces the topic of climate change, seen as a common concern of humankind and a complex global challenge that involves law, policy and science. You will learn to understand the wider socio-legal context in which climate law and policy is embedded, including aspects of energy law, an ecological perspective on climate impacts and an awareness of the wide-ranging consequences of climate change. You will also study the impact of science on law and policy making on climate change and will learn about contemporary political and legal responses to the issue.

Global Environmental Law will familiarise you with the institutions, structures, norms, rules and principles across the globe which seek to govern the relationship between human beings and the environment and the module will enable you to understand their legal nature and functions and the barriers to further achievement. You will also analyse the achievements and challenges of the legal attempts to govern the global environment.

Applied Research Methods in Law provides specialised knowledge on the latest research methods and skills used in legal studies as well as an advanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and of their relevance for different forms of legal research. The module also creates a framework within which you will be able to critically assess potential research topics and, importantly, where you will be able to design, discuss and develop a detailed research proposal of the appropriate standard for your dissertation.

The Dissertation is based on your particular research interest in an area of international environmental law and can be of one of three lengths – 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words. It is equivalent to 2, 2.5 or 3 modules, depending on word count.

Depending on the dissertation length and prior subject knowledge, you can choose a number of subject specific optional modules (* indicates half modules) which in previous years have included:

  • Advanced Issues in Human Rights
  • Advanced Issues in International Intellectual Property Law
  • Advanced Issue in International Economic Law
  • Frontiers in Biolaw
  • Fundamentals of International Law
  • Law of the Sea
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe
  • Renewable Energy

Any remaining options can be chosen from a wider selection of law modules which have previously included:

  • Advanced Issues in Corporate Law
  • Advanced Issues in International Economic Law
  • China and the International Legal Order
  • Comparative Corporate Governance
  • Consumption Tax Law and Policy
  • International Investment Law
  • International Perspectives on Law and Gender
  • Introduction to EU Law
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe

Information for international students

  • Students whose native language is not English must show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 7.0 or higher in IELTS with a minimum of 7.0 in the writing component and a minimum of 6.5 in all other components.
  • Students from EU member states whose native language is not English may show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 102 or higher in TOEFL with a minimum of 27 in the writing component and a minimum of 25 in all other components.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • LLM
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions