International Trade Law and the Environment - LAWS8410

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Martin Hedemann-Robinson checkmark-circle


The law relating to international trade and the environment represents a key element in the national and international legal response to the need to protect the environment and to secure broader environmental policy objectives, notably sustainable development. This module is structured to provide a broad coverage of and opportunity for critical appraisal of various key international rules and institutions which address the relationship between freedom of trade between states and environmental protection. Within this structure, illustrations are provided of many of the key areas in case studies on topical and contentious issues.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 180
Total study hours: 200


LLM in (Specialisation); LLM in Law; PGDip in (Specialisation); PGCert in Law.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Short written assessment: 1,000 words (20%)
• Longer written assessment:4,000 words (80%)

Reassessment methods
Reassessment instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

• P.Birnie, Boyle, A. and Redgwell, C., International Law and the Environment, 3rd edition (Oxford, 2009).
• R-M. Dupuy,Vinuales, J. E., International Environmental Law (Cambridge, 2015).
• A. Gillepsie, International Environmental Law Policy and Ethics, (Oxford, 2002).
• D. Hunter, Salzman, J. and Zaelke, D., International Environmental Law and Policy, 4th edition (Foundation Press, 2011).
• P. Sands and Peel, J., Principles of international Environmental Law, 4th edition (Cambridge, 2018).
• M. Trebilcock and Howse, R., The Regulation of International Trade, 4th Edition (Routledge, 2013).
• J. Watson, The WTO and the Environment: Development of Competence Beyond Trade (Routledge, 2013).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate systematic knowledge of the concepts, principles and rules of international law as these relate to the regulation of international trade and the protection of the environment;
2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the way in which the various international institutions operating in this area co-operate, interact and conflict;
3. Demonstrate comprehensive familiarity with the compositions, constitutions, policies and operation of the key regulatory bodies with responsibilities relating to international trade and the environment, in particular the World Trade Organisation;
4. Think creatively about a subject whose borders and principles are far from settled;
5. Think critically about the ways in which international trade should be facilitated alongside the need for environmental protection and other socially desirable objectives;
6. Formulate a broad view of the adequacies of legal protection for areas of the environment which are impacted upon by international trade in general and WTO law and regulation in particular.
7. Appreciate the multifaceted nature of the trade/environment interface.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module, students will be able to:

1. Enter into informed and thoughtful discussions for the purposes of assessments.
2. Critically evaluate issues with regard to the underlying policy goals.
3. Compare, contrast and critically assess alternative approaches to examined issues.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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