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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

Students talk about their experiences of studying the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law on this video playlist.

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.

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 (due to current UKVI regulations, the part-time programme is only available to UK and EU students). 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 are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View full programme and course information for the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law

Courses shown below are scheduled to run in the 2019/20 academic year and are listed for illustrative purposes. Depending on demand, space on specific courses may be limited.

You must take this course.

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

    The principal aim of this course is to give you an understanding of contemporary developments in international law with regard to the protection of the environment and the sustainable utilisation of natural resources. Particular attention will be paid throughout the course to the processes of international law-making, regulation and institutional management.

You must select between 40 and 80 credits of the following courses:

  • Climate Change Litigation: Practice and Theory (20 credits)

    Climate change is a global issue, which requires international cooperation in order to be tackled. However, the actions developed at local, national and regional levels are absolutely crucial. First, their study is indispensable to assess the effectiveness of the global climate policy. Second, while international negotiations have not been successful in the last years, concrete actions have been implemented at national and regional levels. The sub-international levels of governance are therefore becoming the most dynamic and influent power centres in the fight against climate change.
    EU climate and energy law offers a fascinating example of the dynamism of sub-international levels. It also reveals the intricate relations between international, regional and national levels when it comes to climate policy.
    On one hand, the EU's policy is influenced by its international commitments and by the international negotiations. On the other, the EU aims to become the leader of climate governance, by tailoring its internal law to achieve this objective. EU climate and energy law is meant to be ambitious and to influence third countries. Therefore, the class will be interesting for EU and non-EU students alike.

  • International Climate Change Law (20 credits)

    This course seeks to give you an in-depth and interdisciplinary insight into the major legal instruments of international climate change law, including the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the emerging mechanisms. You are expected to have a sound knowledge of public international law. A familiarity with basic economics and international relations theory is also helpful but not essential.

  • International Law of the Marine Environment (20 credits)

    This course will focus on the environmental provisions of the 1982 Convention on Law of the Sea and related agreements, including the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and IMO treaties, as well as biodiversity-related agreements. Selected topics will address protection of the marine environment, conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, sustainable fishing, preservation of marine mammals, regulation of pollution from ships and land-based sources, freedom of marine scientific research, liability for damage to the marine environment, and the role of the UN, IMO, FAO and CBD in ocean governance.

  • International Law of the Sea (20 credits)

    The aim of the course is to introduce you to the contemporary challenges in the regulation of the world's seas and oceans. The focus of the course is on the legal framework contained in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and related instruments. You will be introduced to the various zones of maritime jurisdiction created under the 1982 Convention, including the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone, the high seas, the continental shelf, and the International Seabed Area, as well as to questions of maritime delimitation. You will also study the role of international institutions in the development of the law of the sea and how states have tackled new issues that have arisen since the conclusion of the 1982 Convention. Finally, the course will cover the settlement of maritime disputes through the compulsory dispute settlement provisions of the 1982 Convention.

  • Risk and Regulation: Theories and Practices (20 credits)

    This course provides a detailed exploration of risk and its regulation, examining how regulatory frameworks are shaped and/or respond to new and emerging human activities, many of which rely on or prompt new modes of action, new technologies, new relationships, and, importantly, new risks.
    Focusing on biomedical case studies in the second half of the course, it explores different regulatory theories, instruments and institutions - legal and non-legal, domestic, regional and international - that govern and shape individual and organisational conduct. Specifically, following detailed investigation of the concept of risk and regulatory theories and practices, the course explores regulatory frameworks in biomedicine (health research and medicinal products and devices), and how they interact with other regulatory frameworks (e.g. EU governance, public health, data protection), concluding with a session on alternative (non-risk-based) approaches to regulation. You will then have an opportunity to present a topic in risk and regulation in the last three sessions of the course.

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)
  • Forests and Environment (20 credits)
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability (20 credits)
  • Values and the Environment (20 credits) 
  • Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability (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)
  • Climate Change, Justice and Responsibility (20 credits)

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

View full 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 full 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 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.

Staff teaching on the core courses of the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law for 2019/20 are experts in their field and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in various areas of international, environmental and climate change law. Teaching staff will include but not be restricted to:

Navraj’s research and teaching address legal responses to climate change, with a focus on public and constitutional law. Current (mid-2019) 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

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 

Edward (Ted) Dove is Lecturer in Risk and Regulation at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and Deputy Director of the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law.

From 2011 until 2014, Ted was an Academic Associate at the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University in Montreal. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Political Science and Civil Law and Common Law degrees (BCL, LLB) from McGill University, a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from Columbia University in New York City and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.

Ted’s primary research interests are in the areas of regulation of biomedical research, research ethics oversight, health-related data access and sharing, and governance of international research collaboration.

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.

The staff teaching on this programme are subject to change for 2020/21. 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.

We require a minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law. We will also consider candidates with a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a social science subject.

Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting the minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Check your degree

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.

Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We also accept an undergraduate or masters 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.

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.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

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.

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

Contact us

If you have any questions about our entry requirements please don't hesitate to contact us.

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the University's Edinburgh Global) and/or to apply for University accommodation.

Apply now for September 2020 entry

The application deadline for September 2020 entry to this LLM is 30 June 2020.

We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle and 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 15 August 2020.

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 or 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.

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.
  • 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

Please note that if you receive an offer of a place to study the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law and later decide that you do not want to accept your place, we do not allow deferrals. In this case you would have to reapply for the following academic year.

You can find full and detailed application guidance on the University's website.

Find out more about applying to the University of Edinburgh

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 now for September 2020 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.