LWMENV-Contemporary Issues in Environmental Law

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Registered for a postgraduate programme in Law or selected MA programmes or with permission of the Director of PGT Studies in Law.
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Wilde

Email: m.l.wilde@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module is designed to provide in depth coverage of certain topical issues in environmental law. It is intended to be a freestanding module and does not depend upon existing knowledge of the subject. The module is of interest to law students on the LLM programme and students from other departments pursuing subjects related to environmental management and regulation. In terms of the syllabus the module addresses the complexity of the subject and weaves together certain threads. It commences by examining the nature and sources of environmental law and focuses on the multi-layered nature of the subject. To this end it looks at the relationship between domestic, European and international environmental law. In this respect an important issue over the next few years at least is likely to be the complications arising from ‘BREXIT.’ The module also considers the general approaches to environmental law and policy and identifies overarching principles and general themes. Having ‘set the scene’ the module then examines how environmental law deals with a number of the most pressing issues facing society today and looks at a number of substantive areas as ‘case studies’. This approach means that there is some flexibility in the syllabus and the substantive areas covered may change from time to time. However, there are likely to be some constants, not least of which is climate change.

The aim of the module is demonstrate the role played by law in tackling some of the most pressing environmental issues of our age. It uses a case study approach to introduce a number of recurrent themes in environmental law. These include issues such as the need to achieve sustainable economic development and the difficulties of translating scientific concepts into legally enforceable standards. The module requires students to develop an independent approach to learning and intellectual curiosity. To this end the module affords students the opportunity to undertake an essay on a subject of their choosing. This enables students from other departments, such as the sciences, to link their main studies with a legal topic. It also enables law students to stretch themselves and develop independent research skills.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:
•Recognise the particular difficulties associated with balancing environmental concerns with other societal objectives;
•Identify and understand the disparate sources of environmental law and synthesise them into a coherent framework;
•Compare and contrast how certain regulatory techniques can be used to combat certain environmental problems;
•Evaluate and criticise how regulatory techniques operate in certain spheres;
•Develop a critical understanding of how environmental law operates at a domestic, European and international level;
•Examine the extent to which the law has developed an integrated approach to pollution control;
•Anticipate future directions in environmental law;
•Synthesise arguments from a range of sources beyond the purely legal literature.

Additional outcomes:
In addition to those listed in the School’s ‘core skills statement’, the module will encourage the development of:
•High-level communication skills that facilitate active and engaged learning
•High-level writing skills through close and critical analysis of the relevant literature
•A sophisticated appreciation of the inter-play between law and politics in the context of environmental law
•An ability to apply aspects of theory to real-life environmental problems
•An advanced appreciation of the relationships between domestic, European and international laws

Outline content:
•An introduction to environmental law: history, sources, fundamental principles, relationship with other policy areas;
•Atmospheric pollution: including domestic laws on localised pollution such as smoke, industrial pollution, environmental permitting, integrated pollution prevention and control, Industrial Emissions Directive and transboundary pollution such as acidification;
•Water: key legislation and regulatory techniques;
•Land and waste: the problem of land contamination and the problem of landfill. Analysis of regulatory techniques including landfill tax;
•Climate change: including international commitments, emissions trading, energy conservation, carbon capture and emerging challenges such as geoengineering;
•Biodiversity: the extent to which environmental law seeks to conserve species and the particular problem of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

NB: for the reasons stated in the module outline there may be some changes in the substantive areas covered from time to time and the above list should not be regarded as exahustive.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to provide students with a range of resources on which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:
•A list of required and recommended readings, with notes and questions that will be used to guide class discussion and reflection
•Six weekly seminar classes of 2 hours each. These are discussion based classes and groups usually have between 5 and 12 students
•Assessed and optional non-assessed work that will be used to develop students’ skills and knowledge
•An electronic discussion board will be available for students enrolled in this module

Where there are Faculty seminars relevant to the area then students in the module will be encouraged to attend and given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academic presenters.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12
Guided independent study: 44 44
Total hours by term 56 44
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Assessed essay of 8 pages (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules).

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme Handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 10 April 2019


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