MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development

Duration: One year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only).

Minimum Entry Requirements: Upper second class honours preferably in a related discipline

Start of programme: September intake only

The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development provides a unique specialisation in a rapidly developing area of law. Environmental law is one of the most challenging fields that has grown very rapidly over the past four decades and is now one of the key areas of both domestic and international law. At SOAS, we understand the environment in a broad sense which includes not only environmental issues strictly speaking but also all the links that they have with other areas such as natural resources, human rights, economic development trade or intellectual property rights. In other words, there is a very direct and close link between environmental law and sustainable development. This is not surprising since sustainable development has been the umbrella concept guiding the development of environmental law since the late 1980s. It remains the central concept around which environmental law and policy are centred (the Rio+20 summit was known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) and around international development, the policy is focused at least until 2030 in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

The SOAS degree offers a distinct mix of modules that cover the main areas of environmental law in their international and national dimensions. This includes modules covering global and international environmental issues, either in their general context (Law, Environmental and Sustainable Development in a Global Context) or focused on specific regimes (Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy), modules focusing more specifically on the resource dimension of environmental law (Law and Natural Resources) and inter-disciplinary modules focused on specific resources (Water Law and Development: Conflicts, Governance and Justice).

The international and global nature of many environmental issues makes the international law component a key part of the MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development. We offer all the general topics that make up the core of international environmental law. Additionally, we focus specifically on the North-South dimension of international environmental issues given the key role that this plays in most international environmental negotiations. Further, the MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development specifically seeks to put international environmental law in its national context and examines the broad legal frameworks negotiated at the international level in the context of their implementation in selected countries of the South. It thus provides a grounded context to the study of environmental law. We also study the legal regimes of individual countries of the South to provide much more specific analysis of the discipline at the level of its implementation in specific contexts. The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development gives specific emphasis to different regions of the South, including South Asia, China and sub-Saharan Africa.


To facilitate the study of law, all MA students are required to attend a two-week Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods in the September before beginning the MA programme.

Students must take modules to a total value of 180, consisting of a dissertation (60 credits) and 120 credits of taught modules. Taught modules are worth either 15 or 30 credits.

Students who wish to graduate with a specialised MA are required to take at least 60 credits associated with his or her specialised MA, a further 30 credits within the School of Law (General Law Postgraduate Taught Module List), and a final 30 unit which can either be taken within the School of Law or from the Language Open Options or Non-Language Open Options pages with the MA Programme Convenor’s permission. The dissertation topic will be undertaken within the MA specialisation.

Specialism Module List (at least 60 credits to be taken)

  • Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy 15PLAC154 (30 credits) Full Year
  • Law, Environmental and Sustainable Development in a Global Context 15PLAC118 (30 credits) Full Year
  • Law and Natural Resources 15PLAC126 (30 credits) Full Year
  • Water Law and Development: Conflicts, Governance and Justice 15PLAC177 (30 credits) Full Year
  • Water and Development: Conflict and Governance 15PDSH049 (15credits) Term 2
  • Water Law: Justice and Governance 15PLAH044 (15credits) Term 1

Non-Law Options

  • Energy Policy in the Asia-Pacific 15PFFH011 (15credits) Term 2
  • Global Energy & Climate Policy 15PFFC017 (30 credits) Full Year

General Law Postgraduate Module List

Postgraduate Open Option Modules


Students must also take a Dissertation in Law, which should be on a topic relating to environmental law and sustainable development.

  • MA Dissertation in Law 15PLAC999 (60 credits) Full Year
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Last updated January 22, 2019
This course is Campus based
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1 - 3 years
14,585 GBP
Full-time UK/EU Fees: £14,585; Full-time Overseas Fees: £20,450 per academic year
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