Skip to main content

LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law

The LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law is designed to provide you with specialist knowledge of the legal issues and techniques related to environmental protection and the management of natural resources, with a focus on climate change.

Students standing in the Old College Quad

During your studies you’ll evaluate the historic and on-going development of international, European and national law for environmental protection, exploring the inter-relations between these different levels of law making.

You will develop the skills required to analyse the activity of international and supranational legal and political institutions, national governments and domestic courts, NGOs and businesses in the private sector, which are working in environmental protection and natural resources management.

You may also have the opportunity to take environment-related courses from other University of Edinburgh schools, including the School of Social and Political Science and the School of GeoSciences, and Edinburgh University Business School.

Environmental Law is a dynamic, fast-developing and globally important area of law that requires not only specialist legal knowledge but also understanding of underpinning political, economic and scientific issues.

Our LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law has been designed to address demand for this specialist knowledge and to serve as a gateway to employment and research opportunities in environmental law, protection and regulation.

The programme is designed for recent law graduates seeking a career in this field and law professionals or anyone working in an environmental field who would like to enhance their knowledge in this field to help further their existing career.

Many of our graduates go on to make a difference in exciting and relevant roles for organisations and businesses all over the world. Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Sustainable Development Advisor, Royal Dutch Shell, The Hague
  • Transatlantic Fellow, the Ecologic Institute, Berlin
  • Foreign Services Officer, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Intern, Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Bonn
  • Research Assistant on Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Overseas Development Institute, London

Edinburgh offers a thriving network of climate and environmental researchers and postgraduate students working and studying across many disciplines including: law, political science, geoscience, and development studies.

Not only will you have access to the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Scotland's hub for low carbon innovation, and the Global Environment and Society Academy, a multidisciplinary network that brings together researchers committed to addressing global environmental challenges, but you'll benefit from Edinburgh Law School's respected team of international climate and environment law specialists.

Find out more about the Global Environment and Society Academy

Find out more about the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

There are regular opportunities to engage with leading ‘climate practitioners’ through the years. These sessions vary - some are co-taught seminars, others are professional development sessions, yet others are public lectures. All are tailored to the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law programme, and the Director is very happy to discuss your own interests in this respect early in the year so we can organise additional sessions if at all possible.

In partnership with Brodies LLP we also run an annual series of Environmental Law Seminars during the academic year, which we encourage you to attend. You can view past lectures by visiting our video channel on the University's media hopper platform.

Visit our Brodies Environmental Law Seminars video channel

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

We offer a wide range of subjects across environmental and climate change law from an international perspective, as well as options from other disciplines. This enables you to tailor the programme to meet your specific interests.

This programme can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years subject to visa restrictions. It offers a wide range of subjects that deal with various aspects of private law from a comparative perspective, with the possibility of choosing additional courses so as to enable you to tailor the LLM to meet your specific interests.

The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. Full programme details for the 2022-23 academic year are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View 2022-23 programme and course information for the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law

Courses listed below are for the 2022/23 academic year and are show for illustrative purposes. Courses for the 2023-24 academic year will be published in May 2023.

Depending on demand, space on specific courses may be limited.

You must take these courses.

  • International Environmental Law (40 credits, full-year)

    This course explores the institutions, rules, and principles concerning the protection of the environment at the international level. The course is designed as an introductory course in order to develop students¿ knowledge of the key sources of international environmental law, their understanding of some of the most important treaties in this field, and an awareness of the challenges associated with the development and enforcement of international environmental law.

  • International Climate Change Law (20 credits)

    This course has two parts. The first explores the central international legal architecture addressing climate change, namely the  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992), its Kyoto Protocol (1997), and the Paris Agreement (2015). The second part of the course critically explores select advanced issues within the climate regime, analysing these issues in transnational and interdisciplinary framings.

You must select between 40 and 60 credits of the following courses:

  • Climate Law Formation: Movement Building, Lawmakers, and Equity (20 credits)
    This course addresses the process of climate law formation by interactions between movement-building, the private sector, and government law-writing, with a particular focus on equity and just transition concepts affecting the formation of law. The course considers how litigation is one tool among many involved in the formation of climate law. It investigates the political and organising forces that create the law, and the way lawyers (including students) might work with them. It starts with the interactions between litigation, legislation, and political negotiation and then builds to more specific climate law examples. The course is intended to be complementary to Climate Change Litigation: Practice and Theory

  • International Law of the Sea (20 credits)
    The aim of this course is to allow you to study in detail some of the contemporary challenges facing the modern law of the sea. The course will follow up on the International Ocean Governance and the Protection of the Marine Environment course by focussing on key legal issues that arise in the interpretation and application of the law of the sea in practice.

    The precise content of the course will vary from year to year in order to reflect the changing challenges within the law of the sea but it may cover issues such as the implications of sea-level rise for maritime boundaries and limits, the constraints of coastal state jurisdiction over foreign ships in the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone, delimitation of overlapping maritime zones and the management of activities in disputed maritime areas, the regulation of new technologies within the marine environment, and the scope of jurisdiction and applicable law under the dispute settlement regime set up by Part XV of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In particular, you will be expected to engage with the evolving case law emanating from international courts and tribunals dealing with law of the sea disputes, as well as considering how the law may need to be reformed in order to address contemporary challenges.

  • International Ocean Governance and the Protection of the Marine Environment (20 credits)

    This course explores the institutions, rules, principles and related policies that underpin the management of the world's oceans, with a particular emphasis on the protection of the marine environment.

  • International Waste Law (20 credits)
    This course provides a comprehensive understanding of transnational, European and domestic waste law. What are the rules, institutions, and principles governing the transboundary movement of waste? This course consolidates students prior knowledge of the international legal structure by focusing on the overlapping regimes and jurisdictions governing waste as a global legal category.

You may be able to select between 0 and 40 credits from courses outside of the Law School depending on availability and with the express permission of the Programme Director.

  • Participation in Policy and Planning (20 credits)
  • Values and the Environment (20 credits) 
  • Understanding Environment and Development (20 credits)
  • Sustainable Marine Development (20 credits)
  • Marine Ecosystems and Policies (20 credits)
  • Global Environment: Key Issues (20 credits)

Full programme details are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View 2022-23 programme and course information for the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law

 

You will have the option to take between 0 and 40 credits of courses from different subject areas offered by the Law School, depending on availability and with the express permission of the Programme Director. Depending on demand, space on courses may be limited.

Full programme details, including core and optional courses is available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View 2022-23 programme and course information for the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law

Having successfully completed 120 credit points of courses within the LLM, you will be ready to move onto a single piece of independent and in-depth research. The 10,000 word dissertation allows you to focus on a preferred topic from within the field of environmental and climate change law, normally based on a subject you have studied in one of your courses during the programme.

You will be assigned an academic dissertation supervisor who will provide you with support and guidance while you prepare and write your dissertation.

The dissertation is a challenging but rewarding endeavour, asking you to demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the relevant literature and an ability to engage critically with a range of sources, drawing on the skills and knowledge you have developed during the course of the programme. Students are encouraged to show originality and evidence of independent thinking, whether in terms of the material used, or the manner in which it is presented.

The dissertation is written in the summer months (April to August) after the taught courses are successfully completed.

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances or lack of demand for particular courses, we may not be able to run all courses as advertised come the start of the academic year.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

Staff teaching on the core courses of the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law for 2022-23 are experts in their field and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in various areas of international, environmental and climate change law.

Dr Michael Hennessy Picard - Programme Director 2022-23

Michael Hennessy Picard holds a PhD in Law from the University of Quebec in Montreal, for which he was awarded two Best Thesis Prizes by the Quebec Society of Law Professors and the Quebec Society of International Law. Before joining the Edinburgh Law School, Michael was a research fellow at the McGill Law Faculty, Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law & Policy, and University College London.

Find out more

James Harrison joined the School of Law as a member of academic staff in July 2007. He holds law degrees from the University of Edinburgh (PhD, LLM) and the University of East Anglia (LLB). James teaches on a number of international law courses, including specialist courses in the international law of the sea, international environmental law, and international law for the protection of the marine environment. His research interests span these areas, considering how the legal rules evolve and interact, as well as examining how international law and policy influences the domestic legal framework. He also has a particular interest in the contribution of international courts and tribunals to the development of international law. James is an Annual Case Review Editor (International Environmental Law) for the Journal of Environmental Law.

Find out more 

Kirsteen Shields is a human rights law expert with a PhD in international law and governance. She is a lecturer in international law and food security at the University of Edinburgh, at the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security. She was the recipient of the Royal Society of Edinburgh / Fulbright award for research on food and land reform at Berkeley, University of California 2017/18. 

She has published on international human rights law, corporate compliance, European human rights law, UK constitutional law in the contexts of land reform, labour rights and ‘ethical trade’ systems. She has led and authored research for the World Bank, the Scottish Land Commission, the Scottish Parliament, and others. She has extensive experience of teaching on human rights law at European, international and UK levels at postgraduate and undergraduate law.

Find out more

 

Navraj’s research and teaching address legal responses to climate change, with a focus on public and constitutional law. Current research projects include the:

  • ‘hidden’ places and spaces of climate litigation
  • climate implications of export credit agencies and their regulation
  • nature of intellectual property rights in the context of climate mitigation.

These research and practices areas come together in the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change, integrating cutting edge legal thinking with climate research in cognate disciplines including business and geosciences.

Find out more

You will also be taught by expert staff in other schools within the University of Edinburgh, including the School of Social and Political Science and School of Geosciences. These include:

  • Professor Alan Boyle
  • Mr Stef Raubenheimer
  • Dr David Rossati

The staff teaching on this programme are subject to change for 2023-24. Staff listed as on sabbatical will not be available to teach for the duration of their sabbatical.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

Find out what it's like to study for an LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law at Edinburgh Law School from our current and former students.

Anna, Gibraltar

Anna, from Gibraltar, studied for an LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law in the 2019/20 academic year, graduating in 2020. In this video she talks about her experience of studying for an LLM at Edinburgh Law School, life in Edinburgh, completing her studies during the Covid-19 pandemic and her plans for the future.

Aaron studied the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law in the academic year 2021-22, graduating in 2022.

"My name’s Aaron, I’m Canadian-born and have lived in the United States most of my life. Prior to coming to Edinburgh, I studied Philosophy at Reed College and then worked there as an Assistant Dean of Admission. I attended the University of Edinburgh Law School’s LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law through a study abroad partnership with The University of Texas School of Law. As such, Edinburgh’s LLM Programme served jointly as the third year of my JD education in the US.

Global and Environment and Climate Change Law student Aaron

In my prior work and studies, I came to recognise that major global environmental issues, like climate change, marine pollution, and biodiversity collapse, are deeply international in nature. For this reason, I knew Edinburgh’s specialist degree would help me achieve a much deeper level of understanding. This is exactly what I received.

My favourite elements of my time in Edinburgh revolve around my classmates. Hailing from all over the world and multiple disciplinary backgrounds, I made friends who care immensely about the fate of our planet and doing something meaningful about it. Together, we marched in Glasgow during the COP26 conference (the primary conference surrounding the UN’s climate change efforts). Outside of class, we attended book talks in Edinburgh’s many bookstores; climbed Ben Lomond together; helped clean one of Edinburgh’s beaches; and explored the Isle of Skye. Today, I know that, whenever I need them, my classmates are a call away from helping me answer policy, scientific, or legal questions. The program also helped me secure a position at an American law firm working in environmental law, climate change, and energy transitions. "

MacKenzie, from the USA, studied for an LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law in the 2019/20 academic year, graduating in 2020. In this video she talks about her experience of studying for an LLM at Edinburgh Law School, life in Edinburgh, completing her studies during the Covid-19 pandemic and her plans for the future.

Tulyada graduated from Edinburgh Law School's LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law programme in 2019.

Louise talks about her experience of studying for the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law at Edinburgh Law School.

Cecilia Alvarado Villarreal graduated from Edinburgh Law School's LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law programme in 2014.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk

This programme can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years subject to visa restrictions.

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

We recommend that you apply as early as possible. This is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test, for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements and/or to apply for University accommodation.

Please note that the information provided is for entry in the 2023-24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. 

We require a minimum 2:1 honours degree from a UK university, or its international equivalent, in law. We may also consider a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a social science subject. Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

Supporting your application

  • Relevant work experience is not required but may increase your chances of acceptance.
  • Relevant professional qualifications will be considered.
  • Preference will be given to those with grades above the minimum requirements due to strong competition for places on this programme.

International qualifications

You can check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Check your degree

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

Find out more about our postgraduate entry requirements for students from China

Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 7.0 in the writing component and 6.5 in each other module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 25 in writing and 23 in each other module)
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 (at least 185 in writing and 176 in in all other components)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 70 in the writing component and 62 in each other component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

Approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

View approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

Pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes

We also accept satisfactory completion of our English for Academic Purposes programme as meeting our English language requirements. You must complete the programme no more than two years and one month before the start date of the degree you are applying to study.

Find out more about the University's Pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes

English language support

The University runs a series of programmes for English Language Education, including a pre-sessional English Language Programme intended to strengthen your English Language skills before you start your programme of study.

Find out more about English language support offered by the University

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2023-24 are provided in the table below.

Round Application deadline Decisions by
1 02 December 2022 20 January 2023
2 03 February 2023 17 March 2023
3 24 March 2023 03 May 2023
4 28 April 2023 05 June 2023
5 30 June 2023 20 July 2023

We monitor application numbers carefully to ensure we are able to accommodate all those who receive offers. It may therefore be necessary to close a programme earlier than the published deadline and if this is the case we will place a four-week warning notice on the relevant programme page.

Please note that the deadline for meeting the conditions of an offer is 18 August 2023.

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study)
  • A reference in support of your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

You will also be required to submit a personal statement of about 500 words, outlining your academic history, relevant experience and motivations for wanting to study the programme to which you are applying.

View full detailed application guidance

Students at this University must not undertake any other concurrent credit bearing studies in this (or in any other) institution, unless the College has granted permission. The College must be satisfied that any additional credit-bearing studies will not restrict the student’s ability to complete their existing programme of study. Students will not be permitted to undertake concurrent degree programmes in any circumstances.

If you are studying at this or another institution just prior to the start of your postgraduate studies you must have finished these studies before the start of the programme to which you have an offer.

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University's applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary, however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out. 
    Please note that the deadline for meeting the conditions of an offer is 18 August 2023.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University's guidance for unsuccessful applicants

Deferring your offer

We do not normally offer deferrals, however, we may be able to make a very limited number of offers for deferred entry in exceptional circumstances.

View full guidance on deferral requests

The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

University of Edinburgh admissions terms and conditions

Apply for September 2023 entry

Contact us

If you have any questions about applying to the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

pg.law.enquiries@ed.ac.uk