• International Environmental Law I and II

    Master of Law (LLM), Paper 15
    MPhil in Environmental Policy, Modules EP03/EP05


    Jorge E. Vinuales

    Markus Gehring

    The environmental problems increasingly understood and recognised since the late 1960s have been regulated on the international plane in two main forms. First, a set of broad policies (concepts and principles) have been developed and used as the basis of a now mature branch of international law, i.e. international environmental law. Such policies, which include prevention, precaution, polluter-pays, environmental impact assessment, participation, common but differentiated responsibilities, inter-generational equity or sustainable development, to name but a few, have provided the basis for the adoption of more specific legal regimes tackling particular problems (e.g. marine and freshwater pollution; atmospheric pollution, ozone depletion, climate change; species, habitat and biodiversity protection; chemical and hazardous waste regulation). Second, these policies are being increasingly mainstreamed within the broader body of public international law. From this second angle, the law of environmental protection is not a ‘branch’ but a ‘perspective’ increasingly influencing, if not shaping, most areas of international law. Such influence is particularly noticeable in human rights law, but also in international humanitarian law, trade law and, increasingly, in international investment law.

    The first part of this course will focus on international environmental law as a ‘branch’, examining (1) its foundations (history and policies) and (2) their legal expression in the four main areas of international environmental regulation (oceans and freshwater, protection of the atmosphere, protection of biological and cultural diversity, regulation of dangerous substances and activities).

    The second part of the course will analyse environmental protection as a perspective influencing the broader corpus of international law. It will first examine (3) implementation techniques (particularly compliance techniques and adjudication) and (4) the influence of environmental considerations on human rights, international humanitarian law, trade law, and investment law.

     Taken together, the two parts of this course provide a thorough graduate-level introduction to international environmental law enabling students either to go into practice or to conduct doctoral research on more specific environmental law questions.

  • Fundamentals of Environmental Economics

    MPhil in Environmental Policy, Module EP02


    Andreas Kontoleon

    Shaun Larcom

     Environmental economics as a discipline is concerned with three broad questions. First, what are the economic and institutional causes of environmental problems? Second, how important are these problems economically, that is, in monetary terms? And third, what can we do to halt and reverse environmental degradation or even enhance the quality of our natural environment? This module gives an introduction to the answers environmental economics provides to the first and to the third question (the module EP01 looks more closely at the second question).

    The module first introduces the field and its policy challenges. We then explore the question: Why do people pollute or overuse natural resources? This goes some way towards answering the first question above. We shall diagnose environmental problems using the analytical framework of economics. This includes a discussion of the complex interaction between the economic system, specifically markets, and the natural environment. In the second half of the course, we turn to the design and assessment of environmental regulation and policies. The course covers both the microeconomic and macroeconomic perspectives on regulation in a variety of policy settings, each characterised by specific constraints.

  • Energy and Climate Change

    MPhil in Environmental Policy, Module EP06


    Laura Diaz Anadon

    Pablo Salas

    This course introduces the student to issues related to energy policy, with a particular emphasis on addressing the challenge of climate change. The aim is to provide an understanding of the wide-ranging cross-disciplinary issues involved in climate change mitigation and adaptation from both an energy and technology perspective. Current knowledge of global energy resources is explored, renewable and non-renewable, with some energy economics. The student will then be introduced to key concepts in technology innovation, diffusion, and the economics of energy technologies. These concepts include the rebound effect, levelized cost of electricity, and recent research on technological change and learning. Finally, we will discuss how policy instruments can contribute to moving towards a low-carbon economy 

  • The Law of the World Trade Organisation

    Master of Law (LLM), Paper 23


    Lorand Bartels

    Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan


    The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the primary organization in the field of economic globalization. WTO law governs the rights of governments to regulate international trade in goods and services and requires them to protect intellectual property. The WTO has an active dispute settlement system which, since 1995, has produced a substantial jurisprudence.

    The purpose of this course is to study the law of the WTO, as set in a real-world social and political context. In addition to focusing on the fundamentals of WTO law, the course looks at the relationship between WTO rules and other values, such as the rights of WTO Members to protect public policy interests. A special theme is the role of developing countries within the WTO system.

    At the end of the course, students should have an appreciation of the purpose and functions of the WTO and be familiar with its rules and jurisprudence.

    The course presumes no prior knowledge of economics or trade policy. It is an advantage, though not mandatory, to have a background in public international law.

    The first part of the course commences with the history of the WTO and its institutional dimension. Next, it turns to the mechanism of trade negotiations and the core WTO principles in goods and services as well as the non-economic exceptions to WTO obligations. Based on this knowledge of substantive WTO law, the course discusses the WTO dispute settlement system, including the relationship between WTO law and other parts of the international legal system (for example, environmental and human rights law).

    The second part of the course covers more specialized subjects, including the regulation of product standards and of food safety and pests, as well as the main trade policy instruments used by governments to protect their domestic industries, ie subsidies and ‘trade remedies’, intellectual property protection, including the legal rights of WTO Members to order ‘compulsory licences’ for essential medicines, and the issue of trade and finance.

    Finally, the course devotes three seminars to a discussion of the major subsystems of trade regulation, which exist formally as exceptions to the most-favoured-nation obligation. The first of these is the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), under which developed countries may grant preferential tariff treatment to developing countries; the second is the regulation of regional trade agreements. We round off the course with a seminar discussing those areas in which regional trade agreements go beyond the subjects covered by the WTO.

  • International Intellectual Property Law

    Master of Law (LLM), Paper 36


    Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan

     The course focuses on how intellectual property (IP) is regulated under international law, primarily via treaties protecting copyright trade-marks and patents. Since IP touches upon a range of other areas of international law – such as trade, investment, human rights and biological diversity – the course also examines some of these interfaces. Ideally, students already have some acquaintance with IP law at a national level or are taking the IP paper but this is no prerequisite. Similarly, basic knowledge of public international law is an advantage, but not required.

    1.        General

    a)        Rationale, history, actors and main principles of the International IP system.

    b)        International IP in the World Trade Organization (WTO): interpretation, dispute, settlement and compliance.

    2.        Specific areas of IP protection

    a)        The international system for copyright protection (the revised Berne Convention, TRIPS, the WIPO ‘internet’ Treaties and the Marrakesh Treaty); responses to thedigital, network environment

    b)        International trade mark protection (Paris Convention, TRIPS) and registration (Madrid Agreement, Madrid Protocol); geographical indications; public policy challenges.

    c)        Patent rights in international IP law (Paris Convention, TRIPS) and in other areas of international law (public health, human rights, biological diversity and traditional knowledge)

    d)        The enforcement of IP rights

    3.        IP in the wider context of international law

    a)        IP protection under free trade agreements (FTAs)

    b)        International Investment Law and IP rights

    c)        Human rights and IP

  • International Investment Law

    Master of Law (LLM), Paper 29


    Michael Waibel

    Kate Miles

    Jorge E. Vinuales

    The law on investment protection disciplines how States treat foreign investors and their investments. The investment regime emerges from the substantive obligations expressed in investment treaties and customary international law, and their interpretation and application by investment treaty tribunals in particular disputes. The course offers a graduate level treatment of investment law and investment treaty arbitration. It deals with both substantive and procedural aspects of investment law and arbitration, exploring its theoretical underpinnings and practical implications. Some background in international law, for instance through an undergraduate course in the subject, is desirable, but not a prerequisite.

    The course has three parts. The first examines the historical origins and the economic and political rationales of the modern investment regime. The second examines substantive standards of investment protection such as non - discrimination and fair and equitable treatment in investment chapters in free trade agreements and investment treaties. It also examines the host state’s right to regulate and the interaction of investment law with other areas of international law through case studies on environmental protection and international finance. The third part looks at the institution of investment arbitration and its operation, including questions of jurisdiction, applicable law, the possibility of conflicting awards, remedies and damages, and broader questions about the regime’s functionality and legitimacy.

    The course will be taught as a weekly interactive seminar. Readings are divided into primary texts, required and further reading. Students are expected to have read the relevant primary texts and the required reading in advance of the seminar to be able to participate fully in discussions. Students are encouraged to do the further reading after the class, particularly in preparation for the exam.

  • EU Environmental and Sustainable Development Law

    Tripos (Law – half paper; Land Economy – Paper 5)


    Markus Gehring

    1. Introduction to EU environmental law (linkages to general EU law). The history and development of EU environmental and sustainable development law.
    2. Principles of European Environmental Law – general principles: precaution, preventative and polluter-pays principle, integration principles, other sustainable development principles, procedural principles: access to information, participation and justice. Question of implementation.
    3. Access to Information and Impact Assessment, Aarhus and Espoo Conventions, Environmental Information Directive, Impact Assessment Directive, Interpretation by the Court of Justice.
    4. Climate Change as a sustainable development challenge, market instruments vs. command and control. EU Emission Trading Scheme, Allocation of allowances, other climate measures.
    5. Risk, science and precaution. The sustainable development challenge of biological safety and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO legislation and jurisprudence, REACH and other chemicals legislation.
    6. Sustainable development and nature - biodiversity and endangered species, especially protected areas and bird protection in the EU.
    7. Waste and Hazardous Waste – 2008 Waste Framework Directive – Interpretation and contribution of the Court of Justice to waste law.
    8. Sustainable EU trade law and policy – international and internal market dimension – trade and environment – trade jurisprudence concerning sustainable development challenges – corporate social responsibility.
  • Environmental Policy Assessment and Evaluation

    MPhil in Environmental Policy, Module EP04

    Andreas Kontoleon

    Aiora Zabala



    This module explores a series of advanced topics from the field of assessment and evaluation of environmental policies. The material builds on that covered in EP02, EP01 and RM01. The module provides an overview of methods and approaches for evaluating environmental policies and then focuses on two main categories of quantitative evaluation tools used in economics, those of (a) non-market valuation and cost benefit analysis and (b) formal impact evaluation tools (quasi, lab, artefactual and field experimental data).

    The module discusses how different evaluation approaches can contribute to further understand and improve environmental policies. The module is intended as a hands-on, applied, environmental policy ‘practitioners’ course. We will not focus on mathematical derivations nor on the theory behind the evaluation approaches. Instead, particular emphasis is placed on the discussion and interpretation of empirical results from several real evaluation studies (though understanding of basic regression analysis and statistics would be necessary). The course is aimed to be useful for those who want to work as environmental policy professionals (either for the public or private sector) as well as an introduction to evaluation techniques for those who want to continue with a Ph.D.


    The aims of this module are to:

    • provide an overview of methods and approaches for evaluating environmental policies
    • focus on two main categories of quantitative evaluation tools used in economics, those of (a) non-market valuation and cost benefit analysis and (b) formal impact evaluation tools (quasi, lab, artefactual and field experimental data).
    • discuss how different evaluation approaches can contribute to further understand and improve environmental policies.
    • provide a hands on parishioners course on economic policy evaluation tools.