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Undergraduate modules

The modules available are continually re-thought and updated, so please look at the options available in Law and Politics. Below are some of the environmental options available 2020-2021.

Environmental Law and Justice (Year 3)

In this module, we critically assess the role of law in regulating and protecting the environment by examining a range of current environmental challenges such as climate change, food supply, biodiversity loss and energy use. Drawing on a number of case studies of environmental law and governance, we examine the range of regulatory approaches and mechanisms deployed, including traditional ‘top-down’ models of regulation and more innovative grassroots responses to environmental issues. We also introduce some theoretical critiques of mainstream legal responses to climate and environmental issues, exploring law’s foundational assumptions in order to examine the way in which law understands and constructs the ‘human’ relationship with the ‘environment’. In an age of environmental crisis, nothing could be more urgent than questioning the fundamental assumptions underpinning our legal and social relations with the ‘living order’. This course invites students to do just that.

Global Environmental Politics (Year 3)

This module focuses on the problematisation of global environmental issues, identifying the multiple actors, activities and arenas in which international environmental problems are rendered ‘meaningful’ and ‘treatable.’ The module aims to introduce students to key approaches in the study of global environmental politics, and to provide a forum to explore how and by whom international environmental issues are governed. This forum includes active role play of intergovernmental meetings and negotiations, presentation (oral and blog) of environmental issue areas and group discussion.

Truth and Power: Science, Knowledge and Politics (Year 3)

This course explores big questions about the nature of truth and knowing in light of specific examples of the uses (and abuses) of science and technical knowledge in politics and policy.

On the one hand, scientific knowledge is fundamental to political decision-making and policy. Once we “have the facts,” we should act according to them. Not acting in view of objective facts is seen as a problem of subjective interest and political partisanship, for instance, in the case of climate change deniers.

On the other hand, there is another, potentially troubling, relation between scientific knowledge and political practice. For instance, colonial race biology, fascist eugenics, and Nazi phrenology, were seen as perfectly acceptable sciences. In these cases, the problem was not the pollution of science by politics, but rather the very conditions that structure the ways in which we know, the ways in which forms of truth become valid and validated.

This course explores the ways in which social and political conditions shape the pursuit of knowledge, and the mobilization of various forms of specialized knowledge for political ends. We will address the role of expert knowledge, and learn to discern whether and what values and preferences may imbue the different technical solutions proposed for various socio-political problems.

This interdisciplinary course takes in a broad historical compass ranging from the Enlightenment and periods of early European colonialism to the present, and readings are drawn from the fields of political science, sociology, history, philosophy, studies in science and technology (STS), amongst others

Local to Global Sustainable Development (Year 2)

he goal of sustainable development is lofty: to meet the needs of the present generation without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This module examines the politics and practice of sustainable development, paying particular attention to the dilemma of how to balance economic, social, and environmental goals. The module will also consider questions of inequalities within and among countries, and intergenerational justice as they relate to sustainable development.

In addition to introducing key concepts and theories, the module will engage with the material using a problem solving approach, working through examples of success and applying historic lessons to contemporary problems.

You will work with a “real world” policy or problem as a case study in which you will identify which sustainable development goals are involved, and if there are trade-offs to be considered. Active engagement in the lectures and seminars is vital to understand the course material and to complete assignments.

Postgraduate modules

Climate Change Law 

This module covers the main issues in environmental and climate change law and its implementation end enforcement in the corporate sector. It deals with practical issues such as pollution, chemicals, loss of biodiversity, sustainability, new technologies such as nanotechnology and fracking, liability for environmental damage, and climate change.  It concludes by examining the implications of environmental and climate change law in commercial transactions.

Energy Law and Policy 

This module covers the international legal frameworks relating to various aspects of the management and governance of energy resources including the impact of investment law, trade law, property law and environmental law on energy transactions. It assesses how international law and European law impact on the energy sector and reviews selected national legal regimes concerning the regulation of energy resources such as nuclear, renewables, petroleum and gas, in addition to energy infrastructures such as pipelines and offshore platforms.