Law and Environmental Science MSc


Fact file

MSc Law and Environmental Science
Full time 12 Months
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in law or a physical, environmental or biological science
7.0 (no less than 7.0 in reading and writing, and 6.5 in speaking and listening)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


Offered in collaboration with the School of Geography and the School of Biosciences, this course explores the relationship between scientific knowledge and law in the field of environmental protection.
Read full overview

Law modules are designed to give a wider understanding of international law perspectives on environmental problems that frequently can only be addressed through regional or international regulation.

Treaty regimes explored include those relating to acid deposition, climate change, ozone layer depletion, nuclear contamination and freshwater pollution. In addition, detailed attention will be given to the various treaty regimes that seek to address the continuing pressures on the world's biodiversity.

The scientific element of the programme is designed to provide a background in biological and/or physical sciences, and also an understanding of relevant mathematical and computer science to aid a quantitative understanding of environmental issues.

Academic English preparation and support

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent. A specialist law course is available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.

Key facts

  • Top 100 worldwide in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018
  • 81% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • 96.6% of law postgraduates in work or further study within six months of graduation
  • Dedicated resources including legal skills advice through workshops and one-to-one sessions, computer room, and law reading room in the Hallward Library
  • Links to leading firms in London and the regions, private industry and consultancies, and governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations across the UK and wider world

Course details

You will complete 120 credits of modules, plus a 60-credit dissertation. Guidance and support on choosing a dissertation topic will be provided.


Teaching methods include lectures, seminar discussions, student presentations and practical sessions, depending upon the precise range of options selected.


Assessments will range from a mixture of essays, reports and written examinations.




General Themes and Principles of International Environmental Law

The module is designed to elucidate those general themes and principles that have emerged from the substantial body of detailed rules regulating the environment in international law, particularly since the 1972 Stockholm conference on the Human Environment. It will consider the extent to which these rules are evolving into a coherent legal regime.

Foundations of Environmental Management

The module provides a foundation for the scientific concepts and issues which underpin environmental management.

Topics covered include:

  • climate-change impacts and mitigation
  • river channel processes and management
  • pure and applied research on biodiversity patterns
  • the science of risk-based contaminated land management
Syndicate Exercise

This module covers the preparation of a group presentation and individual report on an environmental subject.


Qualifying module options


Biodiversity and International Law

This module examines the mechanisms by which international law seeks to protect and conserve biological diversity in terms of species and ecosystems, as well as genetic diversity within species.

Environmental Law Supplement

This module is designed to provide further assessment in conjunction with one or more of the law modules open to the MSc Law and Environmental Science.

It will facilitate the fit between law and science modules by providing an opportunity to add five credits to one or more of the law modules. 

International Law of the Sea

The module will consider:

  • the history and evolution of the law of the sea 
  • baselines, internal waters and the territorial sea 
  • straits, archipelagos and the contiguous zone
  • the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone 
  • the high seas
  • the international seabed area and ice-covered areas
International Law of Transboundary Pollution

The module examines the techniques and mechanisms by which international law seeks to protect the atmosphere and freshwater resources from various forms of pollution.

International Law of Treaties

This module examines the legal regime governing the adoption, implementation, interpretation, amendment and termination of international agreements within the wider context of the role and significance of treaties in the international legal order.

Law, Development and the International Community

This module examines some of the relationships between law and development. After examining both the notion of development per se and the right to development as a human right, the module moves on to cover a number of individual issues where the relationship between law, development and human rights can be explored.

Subjects covered include:

  • the concept of development and the role of international law in promoting "development"
  • the regulation of aid
  • the WTO and developing countries
  • intellectual property and access to medication
  • the protection of traditional knowledge
  • agriculture
  • food aid and food security
  • sustainable development
  • gender and development


Contaminated Land Site Investigation and Risk Assessment

The module will develop a basic understanding of the site investigation and risk assessment of contaminated land.

The natural and industrial sources of contamination will be introduced. The use of desk study information to develop conceptual models will be practice. The design of site investigations to resolve uncertainties in the conceptual site model will be practiced. Generic and detailed quantitative risk assessments will be practiced.

Environmental Management in Practice

The module will introduce you to a range of approaches to environmental management and their use in practice within government and non-governmental agencies and the private sector. Approaches covered could include:

  • tendering for projects in the context of environmental consultancy
  • environmental management practices
  • participatory approaches to environmental policy and planning
Environment, Space and Society

This module is split into a number of sections following an opening session which introduces the different ways in which human geography engages with environmental issues. Indicative content of the remaining sessions include:

  • environmental history
  • environmental knowledge and governance
  • environmental activism
  • economy and environment

These issues are also explored through a day field visit.

Global Climate Change

The module covers the following:

  • A review of modern climate systems and forcings
  • Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
  • Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public 
  • The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
  • Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
Project Management and Environmental Legislation

This module will develop your understanding of the principles of project management and land related environmental legislation. The lectures will focus on:

  • the management organisation of projects and the roles taken by individuals in the management structure
  • the management of change, quality and risk
  • time and resource management techniques
  • project selection strategies
  • project finance
  • evaluating the legal context of land contamination related liability


Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society

The module consists of lectures and associated seminars on:

  • bioethical theory
  • research with animals
  • animal agriculture
  • applications of modern biotechnology to animals
  • animals and professional ethics
  • generic issues concerning: risk, precaution and trust
  • political dimensions of the biosciences
  • research bioethics
Applied Bioethics 2: Sustainable Food Production, Biotechnology and the Environment

The module consists of lectures and associated seminars on:

  • bioethical theory
  • the ethical dimensions of the nutritional needs of the global population
  • ethics of population management, use of new reproductive technologies and development
  • agricultural practices designed to meet the nutritional needs of the global population (including the use of GM crops)
  • the impacts of agricultural and industrial activities on the sustainability of the global environment
Environmental Biotechnology

This module provides training inenvironmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.

Each topic will be introduced by a formal lecture followed by workshops during which you will study the topics in greater detail through problem-based learning techniques facilitated by the convenor and by independent research. Knowledge and understanding of the lecture material will be assessed by Rogo examination and you will present the problem-based exercises and case studies within an individual portfolio during the final week of the module.

Environmental Pollutants: Fate, Impact and Remediation

This module is concerned with the behaviour and effects of pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic environments and how their impacts can be ameliorated and managed. The focus is on both the scientific understanding of environmental pollutants and on the intervention strategies currently available. Topics covered include:

  • study of the common water and soil pollutants: heavy metal contamination of land
  • radionuclide behaviour in the environment
  • persistent organic contaminants and pesticides
  • nitrate pollution of groundwater
  • pollution of surface waters by agriculture
  • eutrophication of lakes
  • acidification of soils and freshwaters
  • biological monitoring of rivers
  • ecotoxicology and environmental epidemiology
  • quantitative risk assessment
  • land reclamation, including landfill sites
Plants and the Light Environment

The module provides a wide-ranging, detailed and modern training extending from the cellular to community level, for those with interest in plant physiology, environmental biology, agronomy and horticulture.

The module focuses on the influence of the light environment on the physiology of native and crop species. It considers how this knowledge contributes to an understanding of the causes of variations in crop yields and may be used to assist in the search for improved varieties and increased productivity in agricultural systems.

Plants and the Soil Environment

This module provides a detailed study into below-ground biological processes which influence the uptake of water and nutrients by plants. The module considers the acquisition of water and nutrients by plants in both agricultural and natural systems, and how plants interact with the soil environment. Consideration is given to using this knowledge to improve crop productivity and resource management and to understanding how resource capture by plant roots has influenced plant evolution over wider timescales.

The module includes a practical study component on the development of new methods and technologies for below-ground phenotyping of roots. The module provides a detailed and modern training extending from cellular to whole organism level. It is highly suitable for those with interests in plant physiology, environmental biology, environmental science, biology, and crop science.



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Our graduates move into a wide range of careers. Many go into the legal profession or return to their previous legal careers with specialist knowledge and enhanced prospects. Others successfully seek employment with international organisations as well as international and local NGOs.

Some graduates further their academic career by progressing onto our PhD programme. These students often choose to stay at the University of Nottingham beyond their doctorate, with a number of academics becoming members of staff after completing their LLM/masters and PhD with us.

With an advanced law degree from the University of Nottingham, you will be well-placed to pursue your career ambitions and realise your goals.

Employability and average starting salary

96.6% of postgraduates from the School of Law who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £23,214 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £32,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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