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Unit information: Environmental Law in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Environmental Law
Unit code LAWD30123
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Pieraccini
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an opportunity for students to obtain an overview of the concepts used by law when tackling environmental issues, the sources of environmental law and the relative merits of deploying different legal tools. Students will consider environmental law primarily in the British and EU contexts; will consider a variety of regulatory approaches and enforcement issues from a theoretical and practical perspective and will look at a number of sectors to ground the various issues in empirical realities.

Although the emphasis is on EU law and national law, some sectors demand an international awareness (climate change law).

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Explain strengths and limitations of key environmental legal principles and perspectives, critically discussing environmental principles (e.g. precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle), demonstrating a good understanding of the concept of sustainable development and the human rights approach to environmental protection.
  • Explain the relative merits of different types of environmental regulation, critically comparing and discussing different styles of regulation such as direct regulation, market based mechanisms and smart regulation.
  • Explain the specific law and regulation of a number of environmental sectors, demonstrating familiarity with key sectors such as environmental assessment, environmental liability, nature conservation law and climate change law, GMos and fracking (note that not all these sectors will be studied every year so for example water pollution law may replace nature conservation law).
  • State the law accurately, with an emphasis on EU law and national law, showing international awareness in appropriate sectors (climate change law).
  • Demonstrate independence in identifying key principles and aspects of complex statutory regimes.
  • Demonstrate doctrinal research skills and think critically about ways in which the law could be reformed.

Teaching Information

20x 1 hr lectures and 7x2hrs seminars

Assessment Information

Two summative essays of 2000 words each counting 50% of the final mark.

Students will be required to submit one formative essay.

The summative essays are designed to assess both whether students were able to critically engage with conceptual issues and to understand and critically think about legal and regulatory tools and sectors studied throughout the module.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

Textbook: Bell, McGillivray and Pedersen, Environmental Law (8th ed OUP). In addition, for each seminar students will need to read a number of selected academic articles, books' chapters and primary legal sources.