Environmental Law LLM (and degree combinations)

  • For Entry: January | September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Social Sciences
  • Study Mode: Full Time

The Earth today is facing major environmental challenges: climate change, loss of biodiversity and over-exploitation of natural resources. Addressing these requires effective legal and policy tools, internationally, nationally and locally. Dundee has the expertise to enable you to develop the key skills and knowledge to pursue a career in this exciting area of law and policy.

Why study this course at Dundee?

The University of Dundee has one of the largest groups of environmental and resource management lawyers on its staff in the UK. Staff have advised at the highest levels, practised, published and taught widely in a broad range of areas of law including: environmental regulation, energy, sustainable development, land use planning, nature conservation, forestry, water, arctic governance, and law of the sea.

What is so good about this course?

Besides being taught by leading experts, the Dundee programme gives law graduates and others a conceptual understanding of the main legal issues related to environmental protection and more widely, sustainable development. This is coupled with knowledge of the subject sufficient to enable and encourage the critical evaluation of current and future research and practice in the field. The choice of modules and dissertation topic allows students to focus on the environmental and sustainability issues that are important to them.

What our students say...

“Having spent time travelling after completing my LLB and Diploma at Dundee, I decided to apply for a Masters in Environmental Law. I had worked with both Professor Ross and Professor Reid during my undergraduate degree, and was aware of Dundee’s expertise in this field. I was also interested in learning more about a growing area of law, with a significant international element that I had not focused on during my previous studies.

While the Masters was, at times, incredibly challenging, it also allowed me the freedom to look at areas of law I became interested in. I was able to use my experiences travelling to research the legal state of the Great Barrier Reef and learnt from my Thai classmates about the practicalities of planning law and the use of renewable energy in a different country. My classmates all had different experiences and knowledge to share - whether they were from Croatia, Norway or just outside Dundee.

While writing my dissertation, I applied to and was accepted on the Civil Service Fast Stream. The skills I learnt during the Masters have been relevant through my placements in different government departments, helping me to learn quickly about new subjects and summarise large amounts of information quickly.“

Katie Hood, 2013, now Civil Service Fast Stream, London

How you will be taught

In your 4 taught modules you will learn through preparation for and participation in a weekly two-hour seminar. All are taught by way of small group seminar discussion. You will be given reading to prepare in advance of seminars and will engage in discussions with lecturers and fellow students during the seminars. This mode of teaching will help you gain confidence in your ability to read, understand and analyse materials and in presenting your ideas in front of your peers.

What you will study

The programme aims to give law graduates and others a conceptual understanding of the main legal issues related to environmental regulation as well as knowledge of the subject sufficient to encourage the critical evaluation of current research and practice in the field. Students can choose from a range of modules designed to develop their knowledge and understanding of issues connected with the environment and the law. Possible modules include Sustainable Development, Environmental Regulation, Ecosystems & International Law and Environmental Justice.


Environmental Regulation

Module Convenor: Professor Andrea Ross

The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the main concepts and legal mechanisms used in regulating human impact on the environment. The modules uses examples from the UK and the students' home countries to explore the key concepts shaping environmental law; to identify different approaches and techniques for environmental regulation; to assess strengths and weaknesses of these techniques for different parties and to explore ways in which different techniques can be combined to give effect to environmental policy.

The module is delivered through seminars and independent research tasks. It will involve a minimum of 16 hours class contact time. Students need to prepare for class using reading from the module guide and from their own independent research. The beginning of each class will be spent running through what EACH student has read to prepare for class. This will then be used to structure the discussion in the seminar.


Module Reading List

International Law of Marine Resources

Module Convenors: Elizabeth Kirk and Professor Robin Churchill

The module aims to give students advanced knowledge and understanding of the sources, subjects and operation of the international legal system. Specifically it aims to inculcate critical understanding and knowledge of the laws and issues pertaining to marine resources; inculcate critical understanding and knowledge of the framework and mechanisms of the international legal system with particular reference to marine resources; facilitate the development of transferable analytical and research skills and promote a critical approach to this area of law.


Module Reading List

Ecosystems and International Law

Module Convenor: Elizabeth Kirk

The module will introduce students to the concept of an ecosystem in international law and examine the impact of international law on the preservation and sustainable use of ecosystems. By the end of the module students should be aware of how international environmental law develops; be familiar with the actors and sources of international environmental law; be familiar with the principles and rules relevant to ecosystems and international law and have an understanding of the effect disciplinary interactions have in the management of ecosystems.


Module Reading List

Sustainable Development

Module Convenor: Professor Andrea Ross

The overall aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the concept of sustainable development, why it has become such a popular notion, the problems it creates, how it can meaningfully be used in practice and the role of law in the process. More specifically, the module explores the effect uncontrolled economic growth, resource consumption, population growth and poverty has had on the Earth's eco-systems and then examines the differing ethical and cultural views surrounding development, growth, welfare and environmental protection. It then critically reviews the different meanings attached to 'sustainable development', the other principles it encapsulates and why sustainable development has become widely accepted as a policy aim before moving on to explore the relationship between sustainable development, environmental protection, environmental justice, human rights and climate change policy. It assesses the role of sustainable development as a symbolic gesture, legal principle, legal or policy objective, legal process or rule, framework for decision making as well as the limits of the term 'sustainable development'. It ends by hypothesising about how 'sustainable development' can be used in practice, implemented and measured in a variety of contexts.


Module Reading List

How You Will Be Assessed

Substantive modules: continuous assessment plus end of semester examinations in December and March/April. Compulsory dissertation: 15,000 words.

Graduates of the environmental law programme have gone on to work in environmental law practices, central Government, environmental agencies, non-governmental organisations and several have moved on to doctoral research and academic careers.

What our students say...

“My reason for undertaking the LLM programme in Environmental Law was to deepen my knowledge of both domestic and international environmental law, which I had initially encountered during my time as an undergraduate at the University of Dundee. As a University of Dundee graduate, I knew that the academic staff would ensure that I would experience, analyse and debate a wide range of environmental issues at Masters level. The Land Use Planning and Environmental Regulation modules provided an in-depth look at the policy considerations and practicalities of legislating for environmental matters at a domestic level, while the Sustainable Development and Ecosystems and International Law modules introduced me to legal theories and ideas which now feature in my doctoral research.

After completing the LLM at Dundee, I secured funding from the Irish Research Council to undertake a PhD at University College Cork, Ireland under the supervision of Dr Áine Ryall. The PhD examines how the right to access environmental information is guaranteed and the application of legal transplant theory. The overall goal is to identify strategies to improve how this right is guaranteed in domestic legal regimes. As part of the doctoral programme, I have recently returned from a research visit at Vermont Law School and I have been invited to present my research at international conferences and workshops in Europe and the United States. This success was possible thanks to the support and assistance I received from the Faculty at Dundee during the LLM programme. While challenging, the knowledge and skills I obtained and developed have proven vital for my doctoral studies and my career development more generally.“

Sean Whittaker, 2013, now PhD candidate, University College Cork

Year of Entry: 2016

Applicants must have, or expect to receive in the anticipated year of entry, a good honours degree in law, of at least upper second class or equivalent. Exceptionally, non-law graduates with relevant legal experience may be considered. "If you are concerned that your qualifications do not meet our normal expectation then please contact us.

EU and International students

For entry requirements tailored to your home country visit the Your Country pages.

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Writing 6.0
Speaking 6.0

Please check our English language requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English language courses.


English Language Pre-Sessional Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional programmes throughout the year and Foundation Programme(s) for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which start at the beginning of the academic year.  These programmes are all designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.  Successful completion of these programmes guarantees progression to various degrees at the University of Dundee as long as you hold a relevant offer.

The 30 week (one Academic Year) Foundation Programme(s) allow applicants who have not met our typical academic entry requirements, and require additional English Language support by up to 1.0 IELTS, to gain the necessary qualifications to enter the University of Dundee degree programmes in the following year.

The 24 week Pre-Sessional programme (March – August) provides additional English Language tuition for students who do not meet our minimum English Language requirements by up to 1.0 IELTS and the 10 week Pre-Sessional programme  (June – August) (October – December) provides specialist English Language tuition for students who are 0.5 IELTS below the requirement for their degree programme.

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee statusFees for students starting 2015/16
Scottish, Rest of UK and EU students £4,500 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants
Fee statusFees for students starting 2016/17
Scottish, Rest of UK and EU students £4,500 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Please read the Postgraduate "How to Apply" section for information on how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Apply online via UKPASS

Course Contact

Professor Peter McEleavy
Dundee Law School
+44 (0)1382 384452