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Course length

1 year full-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our LLM in International Environmental Law equips you with the skills and knowledge to make your own contribution to how governments and organisations are seeking to address the profound environment and climate challenges that are having a massive impact on the lives of people around the world.

You will learn about legal techniques and instruments such as treaty-making, governance and legal orders that provide the framework on which internationally agreed environmental goals are based and which support action taken to tackle issues such as environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change, ozone depletion and plastic pollution.

You will also learn about renewable energy and the role of carbon markets and trading regimes and, as well as climate litigation, you will study the crucial human rights dimension in the protection of the environment and the role of the judiciary in governing action taken and changes made.

The course is delivered against a backdrop of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and will look at international treaties on environmental protection and at the science driving legal developments, providing you with in-depth learning on the principles of international environmental law and on the relationship between legal systems and science in developing such law.

In particular, you will study the Paris Agreement, which represents a significant milestone in the area of international climate change and will look at the objectives and concepts of the agreement in the context of societal change, equity, and the role of science. 

The course is designed to address how international environmental law is constantly evolving, how it has shaped legal principles, and how it works together with other areas of law.

Course Structure

Core modules

International Law on Climate Change introduces the topic of climate change, seen as a common concern of humankind and a complex global challenge that involves law, policy and science. You will learn to understand the wider socio-legal context in which climate law and policy is embedded, including aspects of energy law, an ecological perspective on climate impacts and an awareness of the wide-ranging consequences of climate change. You will also study the impact of science on law and policy making on climate change and will learn about contemporary political and legal responses to the issue.

Global Environmental Law will familiarise you with the institutions, structures, norms, rules and principles across the globe which seek to govern the relationship between human beings and the environment and the module will enable you to understand their legal nature and functions and the barriers to further achievement. You will also analyse the achievements and challenges of the legal attempts to govern the global environment.

Applied Research Methods in Law provides specialised knowledge on the latest research methods and skills used in legal studies as well as an advanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and of their relevance for different forms of legal research. The module also creates a framework within which you will be able to critically assess potential research topics and, importantly, where you will be able to design, discuss and develop a detailed research proposal of the appropriate standard for your dissertation.

The Dissertation is based on your particular research interest in an area of international environmental law and can be of one of three lengths – 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words.  It is equivalent to 2, 2.5 or 3 modules, depending on word count.

Depending on the dissertation length and prior subject knowledge, you can choose a number of subject specific optional modules (* indicates half modules) which in previous years have included:

  • Advanced Issues in Human Rights
  • Advanced Issues in International Intellectual Property Law
  • Advanced Issue in International Economic Law
  • Frontiers in Biolaw
  • Fundamentals of International Law
  • Law of the Sea
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe
  • Renewable Energy

Any remaining options can be chosen from a wider selection of law modules which have previously included:

  • Advanced Issues in Corporate Law
  • Advanced Issues in International Economic Law 
  • China and the International Legal Order
  • Comparative Corporate Governance 
  • Consumption Tax Law and Policy
  • International Investment Law
  • International Perspectives on Law and Gender
  • Introduction to EU Law
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe


Learning on the course will be through a mixture of lecture-style teaching and through seminars, and there is also a dissertation to complete.

Lectures will introduce key subjects and will highlight the existing debates and discussions around them. Seminars will be smaller-sized classes which will develop the subjects introduced in the lectures and enable you to build your knowledge through discussion in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. You will be expected to carry out your own independent study in preparation for the seminars which will also aim to enhance your communications skills as you will present your findings.

In addition to taught modules, you must produce a dissertation which is the product of your own independent research. Depending on the route chosen your dissertation can be anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words.

We are home to the Sustainable Development Research Centre and as a student on the LLM in International Environmental Law you will also be invited to join with activities in the research centre.


Assessment on the LLM is thorough and carried out through writing tasks with the majority of the modules assessed through essays of 3,000-6,000 words in length. The core module on applied research methods will be assessed on a proposal you will present for a research topic. You will present a dissertation on an area of international environmental law of interest to you of up to 20,000 words.

Entry requirements

A good 2:1 degree (or its equivalent) in law, or in a degree in which law is a major component.

  • Students whose native language is not English must show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 7.0 or higher in IELTS with a minimum of 7.0 in the writing component and a minimum of 6.5 in all other components.
  • Students from EU member states whose native language is not English may show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 102 or higher in TOEFL with a minimum of 27 in the writing component and a minimum of 25 in all other components. 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,750 per year
EU students £26,900 per year
Island students £12,750 per year
International students £26,900 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Law School

Our global reputation for legal research and teaching of the highest quality is reflected in the career trajectory of our alumni.

Graduates serve across the full range of legal professions including solicitors, barristers, judges, members of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and as consultants and in government. Others have secured stimulating and rewarding positions in national and international law firms.

We are fully aware of the degree of competition that exists in securing a role in the legal profession and the School provides a range of resources to help alumni stand out as ideal candidates during the recruitment process. This includes detailed information about the steps involved in becoming a solicitor or barrister, visits from law firms and guidance on preparing for interviews and assessment days.

Department information

Law School

Durham Law School is a global leader in the development and framing of law. Led by academics who are experts in their field, we carry out cutting-edge legal research that feeds into our Masters and research qualifications, building knowledge and nurturing the skills needed to help shape law in the future.

The reputation of the School means our legal know-how is respected by parliamentarians and policy makers around the world. Our academics have been called to give evidence in Parliament and have had their research work quoted by courts and international bodies.

International law and questions of global policy and governance are an area of special interest at Durham, but our expertise extends to other areas including criminal law and criminal justice, ethics, human rights, European law, gender and law, Chinese law, Commercial and Corporate law and Global Justice.

The research-led learning environment in the School is one of commitment, innovation and passion for the subject. Our highly respected research groups organise lectures and seminars offer opportunities to hear from eminent scholars and practitioners. Speakers have included judges from the UK Supreme Court, from the European Court of Justice and leading officials from national and international institutions.

For more information visit our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Law School pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 5th in the UK for research environment
  • 100% of our research impact and environment was rated world-leading or internationally excellent


Situated close to a number of academic departments and University services with views of the magnificent Durham Cathedral as well as offering easy access to the historic city, we believe that we have one of the most striking and best-equipped law buildings in the UK.

The Law School is located in the University’s award-winning flagship Palatine Centre, part of a £48.4m sustainable building development.

The School’s facilities are purpose-built and state-of-the-art, featuring a moot court, pro bono room, Harvard-style Hogan Lovells lecture theatre, spacious dedicated work suites and modern wireless and audio-video-enabled research spaces and attractive social areas.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

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Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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