Joint Nordic Master's Programme in Environmental Law
University of Eastern Finland
Earliest start date
* Non-EU/EEA nationals: Uppsala University (semester 1): SEK 50,000; UEF (semester 2): EUR 4,000 (Partial tuition waivers for all selected students); UiT: no tuition fee.
Internationally, within the EU and nationally, there are many laws for managing climate change and other environmental problems. Environmental law is very complex and dynamic and experts are requested both nationally and internationally. The Nordic Master Program in Environmental Law (NOMPEL) gives you a competitive degree. You will study in three Nordic countries, first at Uppsala University in Sweden, then at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, and finally at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.
The Master's degree program is administrated through the Uppsala University. All the important information related to the program can be found on the website of Uppsala University.
Why this program?
The program provides knowledge in environmental law at three levels: internationally, within the EU and in the different Nordic countries. The goal is to create good conditions for those who are interested in legal work in the field of environment, nationally or internationally, but also for those who wish to study for a PhD in environmental law.
The program gives you basic theoretical and methodological knowledge in environmental law. You acquire special legal knowledge and skills within two key environmental fields: (i) management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity and (ii) climate change and energy transition.
You will study in three Nordic countries, first at Uppsala University in Sweden, then at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, and finally at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. This gives you international experience within and alongside education. Each university has its own cultural and social environment. The program provides a financial contribution to travels between universities. Note that application to the program is submitted to Uppsala University only.
It is a two-year program with a range of courses. There is a strong research approach in the program; almost all teachers have a Ph.D. degree in law and, furthermore, students are expected to carry out their own investigations before seminars and to complete a Master's thesis (30 credits). Law students from all over the world can apply to the program. The group consists of a maximum of 25 students.
Courses within the program
- Introduction - The Role of Law in Environmental Policies (15 credits) and Law on Management of Natural Resources and Protection of Biodiversity (15 credits). Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden.
- Climate Change Law and Policy (5 credits), WTO: Environment, Clean Energy and Natural Resources, Trade and Resources (5 credits), International Environmental Law II (5 credits), International Law and Forests (5 credits), Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (5 credits) and International Water Law (5 credits). Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.
- Energy and Climate Change Law (15 credits) and Protection of the Marine Environment with Focus on Marine Living Resources Law (15 credits). Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø.
- Master thesis in Environmental Law (30 credits). Seminars at the start, middle and end of the semester. No obligation for students to stay in Uppsala, Tromsø or Joensuu. Participation in the seminars is compulsory but most of them may be attended on video links.
The program contains different teaching methods, such as lectures and seminars. The teaching methods vary according to the objectives of the different courses. The teaching is highly focused on problem-solving, critical thinking and active student participation in the form of preparation before seminars and oral and written performances at those. You often work in a group with other students. The seminars include analyses of court cases or constructed hypothetical cases, as well as made-up court cases with the students actively role-playing.
The education is essentially theoretical, and almost all professors have a PhD degree. However, the plan is to engage as teachers also lawyers with practical experiences from courts, companies, authorities, interest groups, etc. Some of the courses will arrange study visits at companies, authorities, etc. If possible, practitioners will be involved as advisors (not supervisors or examiners) during the Master's thesis (part three). Examination of the courses is most often in the form of a written exam, but also oral and written achievements in connection with seminars are assessed. The person responsible for a course is also responsible for its examination.
The teaching language is English throughout the entire program.
The program consists of three parts: (i) introduction to environmental law, (ii) in-depth studies within two environmental law areas and (iii) a further specialisation in a Master's thesis.
(i) The first part gives you a broad introductory course, focusing on the Role of Law in Environmental Policies (first semester, Uppsala). You will learn about the functions and potentials of different environmental legal instruments and principles, as well as how legislation and legal principles can counteract the implementation of environmental objectives and green growth. You will also learn how international and EU environmental law interacts with national law. You will learn about the basic structures and challenges in environmental law of all Nordic states.
(ii) The second part of the program (end of the first and the entire second and third semester) is a specialisation within two environmental legal areas, both being of fundamental importance from an international, EU and Nordic perspective. You take several courses, some of them in parallel. One of the areas is the law on management of natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity. A first introductory course (first semester, Uppsala), introduces you to the management of natural resources (forest, water, wind etc.) and the interest of conserving biodiversity, as stipulated in international law, EU law and the law of the Nordic states. In Joensuu (second semester), you take courses in international law and forests, international water law as well as in environmental impact assessment and World Trade Organization (WTO) law, in the context of natural resources. In Tromsø (third semester), you study international law and sustainable use of living marine natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity in marine harvesting, in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction, and offers case studies on national implementation.
The other specialisation area is climate change and energy law. The first course takes place in Joensuu (second semester) and provides a basic understanding of the climate change challenge and key legal mechanisms and policies related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. You will also take a course on international trade regimes under the WTO, which introduces the key WTO rules relating to climate change. Aspects of trade in renewable energy technologies and the relationship between the WTO and emissions trading systems are also included. In Tromsø (third semester), a course will provide advanced knowledge of the interdependence between climate and energy, including the implications of climate change law for the energy sector, renewable energy, emissions trading and carbon capture and storage. The course will also offer case studies from the Arctic.
(iii) During the third part of the program (fourth semester), you will write a Master's thesis, based upon your in-depth knowledge acquired in the courses on legal management of natural resources and protection of biodiversity, and climate and energy law. The thesis shall analyse a specific topic within one of these two areas. A supervisor will support your writing. During seminars, you will be advised in matters of legal methodology, structuring and writing skills. The final thesis is subject to the opposition in a seminar at the end of the course. In order to be accepted to the fourth semester, the student must have completed 75 ECTS credits of the program courses.
The program leads to a joint degree from the three participating universities: Master of Legal Science (120 credits) (Uppsala University), Master of International and Comparative Law (University of Eastern Finland), Master of Laws (UiT The Arctic University of Norway).
The Joint Nordic Master's Program in Environmental Law is given the first time at the start of the autumn semester 2019 and it is therefore not possible to say for sure how a degree from the program will be valued in the labour market (although the results from a minor inquiry in 2016, among possible employees in Sweden, was positive). It is clear, however, that environmental law is extensive and growing internationally, within the EU and nationally. Therefore, expertise in this complex legal field is requested, not least in connection with sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity and in the field of climate and energy law. Environmental law experts are needed at ministries, at state and municipal authorities, in courts, within the EU Commission, and the UN Environmental Program, as well as in companies, law firms, environmental organisations, etc. A degree from the Nordic environmental law program should then be very competitive. There are no other Master's programs in the Nordic countries with the same focus.
This degree is very valuable if you apply for PhD studies in environmental law. Environmental law research is very active, not least in the Nordic countries. Universities require competent researchers and professors in the discipline. Having a degree in environmental law is also an important merit if you apply for another Master's program with an environmental focus.