1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Environmental Law

There is growing public concern over environmental issues. Both public and private sectors are subject to growing environmental obligations.

We need to achieve global sustainability in the context of increasingly complex regulatory settings. This means there could not be a more crucial time to study this area of the law.

Our course prepares you for the challenges lawyers face in helping to regulate environmentally harmful behaviour. You study both theoretical issues and practical ‘law in action’.

Key facts

  • Learn from today’s leading lawyers – our world-leading research underpins our teaching.
  • Prepare for your future career – our courses are designed with skills training at their core, enabling you to think logically about legal problems.
  • Discover what interests you most – Sussex Law School provides a truly international, stimulating and engaging learning environment for you to build a rich base of knowledge.

How will I study?

You’ll learn through taught modules over the autumn and spring terms. The course combines core modules and specialist options, so you gain a solid theoretical, methodological and practical foundation while also having the opportunity to explore your particular interests.

You undertake a supervised dissertation in the summer.

You'll be assessed through a range of formats including briefing papers, presentations, case scenario analyses and essays.

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to study this course full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. 

For details about the part-time course, contact us at lps@sussex.ac.uk

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Advanced Legal Research and Writing

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Advanced Legal Research and Writing has two purposes:

      • to ground students in the conventions of advanced academic writing in law (a specialised form of discourse with many non-obvious conventions and norms)
      • to ground students in the leading traditions or approaches in academic legal research.

      The module covers modern standards for the citation of legal authorities (such as OSCOLA), as well as the justification for them. Legal traditions covered include:

      • doctrinal exposition and analysis
      • critique of doctrine, institutional design and practice
      • researching the dynamics of law.
    • Approaches to International Law

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module introduces you to the key theories and critiques that underpin scholarship and thinking about international law.

      It covers approaches such as positivism and socio-legal studies, as well as approaches which place particular emphasis on power and power structures (e.g. Marxism, Feminism, Critical Legal Studies, Post-Colonial Studies and Third World Approaches to International Law) and on human rights.

      You will be required to evaluate and critique different approaches, and to reflect on uses of these approaches within the field of international law.

    • Environmental Law and Governance

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module gives you a grounding in some of the most topical and challenging and foundational debates in environmental law. These include the role of rights and justice frameworks in relation to environmental law, as well as key debates in environmental legal regulation.

      The aim is to provide you with a platform from which to better appreciate some of the central tensions and dynamics in the study of environmental law generally. You will have the opportunity to submit formative work for feedback and follow up as appropriate.

    • Environmental Law in Action

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module is taken alongside (in alternate weeks), and complements, the module Environmental Governance: Rights and Regulation.

      The module aims to give you a grounding in the operation of environmental law in a range of practical contexts, including in relation to environmental law reform, environmental law activism, and environmental dispute resolution (including litigation).

      We will consider the role of both lawyers and non-lawyers in these processes at the international, regional, national and comparative levels, and use real-world examples to deepen your understanding.

      The module also aims to provide you with a platform from which you can better appreciate, and better critique, the law as it is considered in the modules studied in spring term, and in your dissertation.

    • Principles of International Law

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Principles of International Law provides you with:

      • a guide to the history of international law
      • an introduction key institutions, sources and subjects of international law
      • an overview of principles of accountability and responsibility.

      It aims to contextualise public international law’s place in contemporary international relations, and to consider new problems and insights in this broad field.

    • Dissertation (Environmental Law)

      45 credits
      Spring & Summer Teaching, Year 1

      All LLM students design and carry out a project of research under individual supervision.

      You are encouraged to apply the theoretical and practical principles of research methodology, which were addressed by the module Advanced Research for LLM Students, in the production of your 10,000-word dissertation.

      The aim of your dissertation is to complete an extended piece of research work on a topic of your choice, improving your appreciation of environmental law and developing appropriate research skills.


    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Alternative Dispute Resolution

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will provide you with a critical and in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical dimensions of dispute resolution in comparative perspective.

      In addition, the module will equip you with practical experience of negotiation and mediation in a variety of national and international contexts. Because Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has attracted interests from a variety of academic disciplines the course engages with interdisciplinary research.

      The module is divided into three substantive parts;

      • Part I examines issues of formal and informal justice across a range of legal cultures, and then explores the manner in which ADR emerged as a reform movement in the late 20th century, primarily in common law jurisdictions.
      • Part II surveys the primary key modes of dispute resolution ordinarily used: negotiation, mediation, and umpiring.
      • Part III examines the inventive approaches to dispute resolution based on a fusion of one or more primary processes and gives emphasis to international dispute resolution and online dispute resolution.
    • Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage and the Law

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module examines international and regional approaches to the legal protection of biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage. It also examines the way in which some national jurisdictions (emphasising the UK approach) deal with this type of protection. The module will include consideration of the natural science and non-legal social-science that deals with measuring rates of biodiversity loss and the optimum way to protect biodiversity and cultural heritage as well as the interlinking with other volitions for protection.

      The aims of the module are:

      1. to provide a grounding in the relevant international, regional and some aspects of national law
      2. to provide a critical understanding of such law and the dynamics behind it
      3. to provide an understanding of the rationale behind approaches to protect biodiversity and heritage and the subject(s)’ relationship with other issues; and
      4. to develop skills of presentation and advocacy.
    • International Environmental Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module begins with an introduction to the policies and principles surrounding international environmental law including an examination of the historical development of the subject area; the sources and participants found within international environmental law; and issues surrounding compliance and enforcement. Following this, the module will examine a range of substantive issues of contemporary global importance including climate change; the conservation of biological diversity; the law of impact assessment; liability; international economic institutions and environmental protection; international trade, development & the environment; and the relationship between human rights and the environment.

    • Issues in Climate and Energy Law

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines a selected number of topics relating to the legal regulation of anthropogenic climate change, the legal regulation of the energy sector and the promotion of renewable and other alternative forms of energy generation and conservation.

      The module considers the nature of climate change as a policy problem and a selected number of salient issues in relation to the legal response to it, the use of long-term legislative targets, the tension between direct regulation and the use of economic instruments such as emissions trading, informational regulation, liability, rules on financial support for energy generation and the interaction with free trade and competition (antitrust) law. As the international law and governance of climate change is covered elsewhere, the focus of the module is on the response at regional (especially EU) and national levels.

    • Sustainability and Community

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module examines the law at international and national levels (in the UK and elsewhere) as it deals with issues of sustainability that impact and relate to human communities.

      Thus at the international level it examines the law as it supports traditional and other communities who embed sustainable lifestyles drawing from many sources: environmental, human rights etc.

      At the national level the module examines different legal paradigms that work towards sustainability including case studies in countries where customary law regimes are relevant and others such as the UK where state or formal systems operate side by side with, inter alia, informal regimes such as may be prevalent in experimental systems such as the ‘transition movement’ or claims to land for recreational or environmental reasons.

Find out about LLM degrees at the University of Sussex

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in law or a relevant subject (such as economics, finance, international relations, political science, history, criminology, criminal justice or sociology) but applicants from other backgrounds may be considered

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Pre-Masters in Law

Need to boost your academic skills for your taught course? Find out more about our Pre-Masters in Law.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship (2017)

Two full UK/EU fee waivers for students who hold an offer of a place on the MA in European Governance and Policy.

Application deadline:

31 July 2017

Find out more about the Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


The LLM in Environmental Law is taught by faculty members with strong expertise and experience in the areas of:

  • international environmental law
  • international trade law, the environment and development
  • environmental governance
  • property law aspects of sustainability
  • international, regional and national biodiversity conservation law
  • liability for natural resource damage.
  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Lucy Finchett-Maddock
    Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Aesthetics and Politics, Commons, Complexity and Law, Critical Legal Theory, Entropy, Environmental law, Geographies of Law, Law and Art, Law Relating To Property, Property law, Right to Housing, Right to Protest, Social Theory, Speculative Philosophy, Squatting, William S. Burroughs (disobedience)

    View profile

    Dr Bonnie Holligan
    Lecturer In Property Law

    Research interests: Environmental law, Land law, Property law

    View profile

    Dr Helena Howe
    Lecturer In Law

    Research interests: environmental education, Property law, Sustainable agriculture

    View profile

    Dr Emily Lydgate
    Lecturer In Environmental Law

    Research interests: agriculture and conservation, biodiversity and climate change regulation, Economic integration, Environmental policy, Renewable Energy, Trade liberalization

    View profile

    Prof Donald Mcgillivray
    Professor of Environmental Law

    Research interests: access to land, Climate change, Environmental law, Land law, Land Use, Water Resources

    View profile

    Dr Emanuela Orlando
    Lecturer in Environmental Law

    Research interests: environmental crime, environmental liability, EU Law, International and EU environmental law

    View profile


You'll finish the course with a thorough grounding in the role of environmental law in the pursuit of global sustainability. You will also have a high level of understanding of environmental problems, and the role that law plays in trying to tackle these challenges.

This will enhance your prospects of achieving employment or advancement in:

  • private legal practice
  • public legal practice (government departments and agencies) international or regional organisations
  • environmental NGOs.

You'll also be prepared for work in a wide range of other positions, such as policy work. It may also act as a springboard to further, doctoral-level research.

Graduate destinations

97% of students from Sussex Law School were in work or further study six months after graduating. Our graduates have gone on to jobs including:

  • associate lawyer, White and Case LLP
  • forensic assistant, International Criminal Court
  • parliamentary assistant, European Union.

(EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015 for postgraduates)

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work