Postgraduate Course

LLM Law, Environment and Sustainability

LLM Law, Environment and Sustainability


The details
Law, Environment and Sustainability
October 2024
1 year
Colchester Campus
Essex Law School

The international community faces considerable challenges in achieving sustainability relating to all aspects of the environment and development. These goals include the need to achieve social justice and economic resilience, and as such pose complex legal and policy questions.

Law plays an integral role in these processes as its development affects and influences the decision-making of governments and businesses, and impacts directly upon communities and the environments in which they live.

Our LLM Law, Environment and Sustainability course offers the opportunity to study across a wide range of modules in the areas of environmental law, development law, international law, corporate and commercial law, human rights, corporate responsibility, trade and investment law to enable you to become technically capable in these areas and to enhance your analytical, communication and advocacy skills needed to operate effectively within these spheres.

You will learn about the legal and non-mandatory obligations that relate to different national and international actors, and the tensions that exist within different legal systems and frameworks of law that sometimes represent competing environmental, political, economic, social and developmental priorities.

Throughout the degree you will have the opportunity to study key areas, including but not limited to:

  • International Environmental Law and Sustainability
  • Human Rights, Development and the Environment
  • Trade, Investment, Environment and Human Rights
  • Corporate Responsibility and Business Law
  • International Law of the Sea
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Public International Law

The degree also uniquely enables students to study other optional subjects that include specific components that relate directly to the environment and sustainability. These include:

  • Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Acute Crises and Displacement
  • Human Rights, Global Diversity and Global Challenges
  • Competition Law
  • Conflict and the United Nations: The Law Related to the Use of Force, Sanctions and Peacekeeping
  • Corporate Governance Models and Principles
  • International Trade and Maritime Law
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Maritime Law and Wet Shipping

Therefore you will be able to tailor your LLM to your own specific interests and requirements.

The degree will develop your intellectual and critical faculties, encourage you to think independently and teach you to present rational, coherent and accurate arguments orally and in writing. It will provide you with an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers.

We are ranked 49th for Law in THE World University Rankings by subject 2024, which is 9th in the UK, and we are 3rd in the UK for research power in law (THE research power measure, REF2021).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

As part of the degree, you will be required to research and write dissertation which is normally between 12-15,000 words. Supervision and guidance is provided.

Why we're great.
  • We are ranked 3rd in the UK for research power in Law (THE research power measure, REF2021).
  • Learn about the legal and non-mandatory obligations that relate to different national and international actors.
  • Choose from optional modules to develop extensive knowledge in the areas that interest you the most.

Our expert staff

Our internationally diverse community of staff and students gives us a breadth of cross-cultural perspectives and insights into law and justice around the world.

This community, combined with opportunities to study abroad during your time with us, ensures you graduate with a genuine worldview and a network of international contacts.

Specialist facilities

  • Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
  • Participate in mooting competitions to develop your skills, particularly important if you hope to become a barrister
  • Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting law firms

Your future

Essex Law School graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers in international and intergovernmental organisations or employment with governments across the world, in commerce and banking, in non-governmental organisations and, as might be expected, in the legal profession and the judiciary.

During the year, we hold a careers session for our students in which we reflect upon our own careers and how they have been built as well as those from former students. We are always available to discuss career options and if you are interested in a particular area of the law, we can link you up with the relevant alumni to offer advice.

We also work with the university's Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 Degree in Law or a joint honours Degree in another subject with Law.

Applicants who do not hold a Law Degree but who have at least six months of relevant professional experience, traineeships, or professional qualifications/certifications issued by professional bodies such as Bar Associations can apply and will be considered. Please provide your CV.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Dissertation - Law, Environment and Sustainability

The dissertation is an independent and research-led piece of work under the guidance of an academic supervisor. You will undertake an individual research programme and apply appropriate methodologies on a topic within the scope of the LLM Law, Environment and Sustainability course. The topic will be approved by your academic supervisor and the postgraduate taught director, and provides an opportunity to develop and display an extensive knowledge of the law and, drawing on applicable legislation, case law and scholarly works, to engage in critical evaluation and analysis of relevant legal issues.

View Dissertation - Law, Environment and Sustainability on our Module Directory


International Environmental Law and Sustainability

This module introduces students to the critical study of international environmental law and sustainable development with an emphasis on the practical effects that these areas of law have on the decision-making, whether that be of States themselves, international organisations or businesses.

View International Environmental Law and Sustainability on our Module Directory


Public International Law

What does it mean to be an international lawyer? Understand the founding principles of international law. Apply the tools and techniques of legal reasoning to the international legal system. Understand how the system of international law works and form your own views through discussions of contemporary issues.

View Public International Law on our Module Directory


Academic Skills in International Law

This module is a compulsory module for all LLM in International Law students on all pathways, which aims to develop students’ academic skills as required for the postgraduate study of international law. This module has been designed to be taken alongside the module LW902 Public International Law (also compulsory for all LLM in International Law students). The LW949 Academic Skills in International Law module equips students with the technical skills required to engage in research and study of public international law, including academic referencing of scholarship, treaties, cases of international courts and tribunals. Students also develop the necessary skills to analyse international legal materials, complete both essay and problem-based questions within the field, produce high-quality independent writing at postgraduate level, and reflect upon feedback. This module will also prepare students for the foundation essay (formative essay) for the LLM in International Law. This is a formative essay, which provides an opportunity for students to engage with postgraduate level reading and writing on a topic of international law, and to submit an essay for the first time at LLM level. As a valuable learning tool, students receive feedback on their foundation essay, allowing them to reflect accordingly for future coursework with a view on how to further develop their skills throughout their postgraduate degree.

View Academic Skills in International Law on our Module Directory


Option(s) from list


Option(s) from list


Option(s) from list


Postgraduate students in Essex Law School usually attend two-hour workshops, or a one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar for each module each week.

  • Taught through small-group interactive seminars that foster critical debate and analysis
  • Teaching is supplemented by lectures, where appropriate
  • Postgraduates are welcome to join the numerous guest lectures held at the School yearly


Modules are assessed via a coursework, an examination, or a combination of the two.


  • Your dissertation is normally 12,000 words in length
  • You will have the freedom to select your own dissertation topic
  • A special dissertation module that offers guidance on topic selection and the writing process, as well as one-to-one supervision given from a member of academic staff

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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