Postgraduate taught 

International Law LLM

Climate Change Law and Governance LAW5196

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course examines climate change law and governance at the international level, while also highlighting the promises and challenges of implementing climate change obligations at local, national and regional levels. The aim is to give students a holistic understanding of how climate change law affects law and policy not only through treaty frameworks, but also though the restructuring of market preferences and individual rights. As well as looking at the climate change treaties, the course is going to examine the ways in which climate change regime had influenced national legal systems and industry practice, what new modes of international cooperation and governance it had set in motion (e.g. green finance, climate credits), how it has been contested in domestic and regional courts, and how it relates to human rights obligations of states and private actors.


10 seminars x 2 hours

Excluded Courses



The assessment in this course will consist of two parts:


a) A position paper* on the chosen aspect of international climate change regime (30%, 1500 words). This assignment will be due during the reading week of the course.

b) A take home (open book) exam consisting to two essay questions (70%, 3000 words in total). This assessment will take place during the winter exam diet.


*In this assignment students will be asked to choose a country, a type of entity that they represent (government agency, business association, NGO), and an area of climate governance that they want to assess (carbon trading, green taxonomy, REDD+, adaptation strategy, etc). They will then be asked to provide a critical appraisal of a chosen area or topic of climate change law from the perspective of their chosen entity.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

1. To provide students with an advanced introduction to the history, structure and content of international climate change regime and its implementation at various levels.

2. To examine legal and governance structures that enable political action against climate change, while highlighting challenges of fairness and effectiveness that these structures present in practice.

3. To position arguments about climate change law and governance in their historical and geopolitical context.

4. To critically assess the impacts of climate change and its governance on human rights and consequences for global justice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Demonstrate critical awareness of international climate change regime, including challenges to its fair and effective implementation in practice.

■ Critically engage with global climate change governance, and to appreciate the reasons and avenues for contesting it.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.