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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

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 for the 2020/21 academic year and are for illustrative purposes. Courses for the 2021/22 academic year will be confirmed in May 2021. Depending on demand, space on specific courses may be limited.

You must take this course.

  • Introduction to International Environmental Law (20 credits)

    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.

You must select between 60 and 100 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 focuses on select advanced issues within the climate regime in detail, analysing latest developments including COP negotiations, the scholarly and policy literature, and analysing these issues in the context of the framework of international and transnational law.

  • 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.

  • Law of Climate Change (20 credits)

    This course explores the law concerning climate change with particular focus on its sources, principles and processes. It critically questions the role of law in enabling humanity's responses to such a unique global challenge.

  • 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)

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 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.

Staff teaching on the core courses of the LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law for 2020/21 are experts in their field and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in various areas of international, environmental and climate change law.

Mr Navraj Singh Ghaleigh - Programme Director 2020/21

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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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 2021/22. 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.

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.

Louise, Canada

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

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

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.

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 for September 2021 entry

Entry requirements

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.

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 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)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 185 in writing and 176 in each other module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Find out more

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.

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

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.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2021/22 are provided in the table below.

Round Application deadline Decisions by
1 04 December 2020 28 January 2021
2 26 February 2021 31 March 2021
3 07 May 2021 18 June 2021
4 30 June 2021 27 July 2021

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 31 August 2021.

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.

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.
  • 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 for September 2021 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.