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Environmental Law and Justice MA

Learn about the course below
October 2022
September 2022 (EU/INT induction)
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£9,000 (UK) *
£14,500 (EU/INT) *
Course leader
Angus Nurse
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Please note this course is no longer accepting applications for 2021 entry. The next entry is 2022.

The devastation of the environment and ecosystems is of increasing concern across the world. In addition to the impact of climate change and reduced biodiversity, both legal and illegal economic activity is a challenge to legal frameworks and agencies at national and international levels of governance.

This master's degree has been designed to tackle these issues and equip students with high-level knowledge and skills to enable them to develop professional careers in the environmental sector.

Why study MA Environmental Law and Justice at Middlesex University?

Successful completion of the course will ensure you have the required practical skills and knowledge applicable to careers in environmental policy and enforcement, with an emphasis on employability and engagement with contemporary environmental debates.

Our academic staff, including criminologist Dr Angus Nurse, who has both research and professional experience in the environmental crime area, European policy specialist Dr Meri Juntti, renowned gender and development expert Dr Sarah Bradshaw specialist in human rights law and Head of the School of Law, is an expert in her respective fields who uses her impressive research portfolio to inform her teaching.

In the course of their work with NGOs such as the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association, the League Against Cruel Sports, Humane Society International and WWF (all of whom have attended environmental policy events hosted at Middlesex), we have developed a comprehensive understanding of the key skills and knowledge needed for graduates wishing to develop or maintain careers in environmental justice and law enforcement.

You will also have a number of opportunities to gain practical work experience through three different work placement modules offered as options through the programme. One of these enables you to apply to undertake an Erasmus-funded internship with an international organisation in an appropriate field based in another European country.

Course highlights

  • Learn from experts in the field of environmental law justice
  • You may be eligible for related internship and work-based learning opportunities which gives you the chance to intern at institutions such as the United Nations, Global Union Federations and NGOs.
  • Gain practical experience on an Erasmus-funded internship.

Find out more

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What will you study on the MA Environmental Law and Justice?

Four core plus two optional modules are completed over terms one and two, with a Dissertation period in term three.


Each module is typically worth 20 credits, except the Dissertation and Work Integrated Learning modules which are worth 60 credits each. The Work Integrated Learning module may be chosen to replace the Dissertation with prior agreement.

Additional optional modules available in Law

As well as the optional modules listed below, students can choose to study from a range of law modules in terms one and two.

Not all of the optional modules listed will be available in any one year. Module availability is dependent on staffing and the number of students wishing to take each module.

  • Core modules

    • Environmental Policy and Ethics (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This core module on the MA Environmental Law and Justice aims to provide you with the skills and knowledge to understand contemporary environmental policy and the ethical challenges that it needs to address. The module also gives you an understanding of environmental responsibility, considering policy and social constructs on caring for the environment and different contexts on being accountable for harm or environmental wrongdoing. In this part of the course you’ll get the chance to critically examine ethical traditions and how these traditions inform particular forms of environmental policy and action; in particular the conflicts between continued exploitation of the environment and the contemporary environmental protection ‘movement’. Examining contemporary notions of environmental citizenship, the module examines rights and contracts based traditions including ethical issues associated with the ‘Commons’ and the notion of public ownership and responsibility for the environment. It also considers the relationship between individual and collective responsibility exploring in detail the role of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in developing environmental policy, monitoring environmental abuses and advocating for change in environmental law and policy and increased corporate environmental responsibility. In this module you’ll combine study of the legal, social, business, economic, and political aspects which influence and determine contemporary environmental policy. It considers ethical questions such as: To what extent do humans have a right to exploit nature in order to live? Should animals’ interests be a core factor in environmental policy? Should ownership be given over natural resources allowing commercial exploitation and manipulation of natural resources? Once you’ve completed this module you’ll have gained a critical understanding of contemporary environmental policy issues and the manner in which ethical considerations inform environmental policy.

    • Environmental Crime and Green Criminology (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This core module on the MA Environmental Law and Justice critically evaluates perspectives on green criminology, and crimes against the environment (including animals). It considers contemporary perspectives on green offending, the regulation of environmental problems, and global perspectives on green crimes, green criminality and the effectiveness of justice systems in resolving environmental problems. It also adopts a critical approach to theoretical debates on animal rights, the legal personhood of animals, and the tension between the continued exploitation of natural resources and the prosecution of environmental crime. In this module you will also critically examine the link between environmental offending and mainstream crimes, including the link between violence towards animals and violence towards humans and the extent to which corporate environmental crime constitutes a ‘crime of the powerful’ or a corporate-state crime. The module will require you to critically examine theoretical concepts and practical considerations in environmental justice and consider how examining environmental harms inevitably results in a wider definition of green ‘crime’ than simply considering those activities defined as such by the criminal law. The module will also help you to develop knowledge and skills appropriate to working in the environmental justice sector with NGOs, local authorities and other policy and enforcement bodies.

    • Environmental Law and Governance (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will provide you with an in-depth understanding of environmental governance and the central theoretical approaches on which its principles are based. You’ll be introduced to the idea of the governance spectrum ranging from a coercive mode and legal instruments to approaches that rely on the agency and knowledge of environmental resource users themselves. Various environmental policy instruments will be explored in depth, and lecture content will be supported by case studies drawing from the tutors’ research on green criminology and European environmental policy. You’ll also complete either a field trip or a role play exercise and workshops designed to help you learn how to apply governance principles to real life environmental policy problems.

    • Research and Practice Skills (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module prepares you to complete either a dissertation or an assessed work placement or a work based learning project. You will attend a series of lectures and workshops and online exercises address research methodologies, skills and employability. You will undertake a series of formative and summative assessments developing your critical and practical skills and leading to either; i) the production of a research proposal or ii) a critical review of the work of the organization you are to be placed with or work with. The satisfactory completion of the module will then allow you to proceed to writing a dissertation of 10-12,000 words or to embark on a work placement assessed by production of a project report / paper and exercises reflecting on your experience.

  • Plus one of the following

    • Dissertation (60 Credits) - Optional

      The module aims to enable you to undertake a substantial academic research project focussed on a key issue within your programme. It requires you to apply methodology, research design and method to the practical processes of undertaking a chosen research topic and presenting the findings. The dissertation requires you to draw upon the prerequisite module Research and Practice Skills but encourages you to demonstrate independence and self-discipline in researching a topic of interest and relevance to you and manage an extended project from conception to completion.

    • Work Integrated Learning (60 Credits) - Optional

      The module aims to enable you to apply theoretical knowledge and research to anticipate and respond to challenges in a selected workplace experience. You can undertake this workplace experience as an internship that you negotiate yourself or in your current workplace or an existing voluntary role. It also aims to help you foster sustainable long term learning by requiring that you take responsibility for your own learning, design and negotiate learning goals and make informed judgments about your performance across the programme of study. The module will ask you to engage as active subjects in the assessment process, thus enhancing your capacity for transformative learning. By selecting a topic of interest grounded in your workplace experience you’ll be expected to demonstrate reflexivity, self-regulation and self-assessment in your journey towards personal and professional development.

  • Plus two optional modules from the list below

    • Global Governance for Sustainable Development (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module aims to provide you with skills and knowledge to understand and critique the notion of sustainable development and the many manifestations it takes in policy and governance starting with the global blueprint of Agenda 21. An increasingly popular term, global governance refers to the collaborations of state and non-state actors in advocating, making laws and policies for and undertaking practical actions to address issues that have global scope in terms of impact and/or causality. This module will help you to understand new and emerging theorisations of governance, power and evidence as well as the normative and institutional premises of governance for sustainable development. You will gain a critical understanding of a range of global governance issues such as food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and healthy cities.

    • Minority Rights and Indigenous Peoples in International Law (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module enables students to understand, analyse and comment upon the international law framework on minority rights and indigenous peoples under the United Nations, American, European, African and Asian systems, assessing their efficacy in dealing with violations.

    • Integrated Work and Learning (20 Credits) - Optional

      This practical experience module provides the means for students to link academic work with ‘real world’ work experience related to their specific programme. The aim is to enable the student to conceptualise the relation of theory to policy decisions within the wider world context. This module also aims to develop and embed specific key skills which will facilitate career paths and employment in their chosen speciality. It is envisaged that the student will reflect and analyse areas of knowledge relevant to the placement learning experience and develop personal knowledge through review of learning. This learning experience provides students with the opportunity to enhance their skills of self-expression, communication, self-reliance, cooperation and team working within an area of work related to their chosen pathway.

      Please note, this module cannot be taken in combination with the Work Integrated Learning (60 credit) module or the Practicum in International Organisations module.

    • Global Criminology (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module explores criminological issues from a global perspective including the changing nature of crime and crime control in a 'globalised' world. It focuses on crimes which transcend national borders, the comparative analysis of different countries' approaches to dealing with crime, and the 'globalisation' of justice and policing. It will equip you to undertake your own international and or comparative research and analysis.

    • Sustainable Development and Human Rights (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will help you critically explore the key institutions and frameworks that govern human rights at the international level and of the international policy context that promotes sustainable development, to examine how the two interact. You will examine the notion of rights as competing, contested and co-opted and question their ability to function in crisis situations. It focuses on issues of inclusion/exclusion and reflects on how the rights and ‘development’ of three ‘marginalised groups’ have been promoted. You’ll focus in particular on indigenous peoples, the caste system and gender inequality. The aim of this part of your studies is to question if current legal approaches to human rights are sufficient to bring sustainable development to groups currently marginalised.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MA Environmental Law and Justice degree taught?

You will learn via a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops designed to facilitate discussion. Practitioners invited as guest speakers from leading environmental NGOs will provide practical perspectives and allow you to engage in contemporary debates and discuss real-world case scenarios.


Students' knowledge, understanding and skills are assessed by a variety of assessment methods including essay writing, reports, reviews and a research or project proposal.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU/International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

How can the MA Environmental Law and Justice support your career?

This programme is developed to provide you with the in-depth knowledge and practical skills to support your continual professional development and to further your employment and career prospects in the environmental policy and enforcement field.

In particular, the course is suitable for those wishing to gain employment or achieve career progression within environmental NGOs, government environment agencies, local authority environment departments and environmental advocacy and policy organisations. The skills gained in the programme are suitable to career pathways in environmental investigations, environmental policy, environmental advocacy and environmental monitoring and environmental protection research.

It is also suited to students wishing to progress from undergraduate study in green criminology and environmental justice to postgraduate study and academic careers in green scholarship and academic advocacy.

The Programme Leader and other contributors to the programme in the department will work alongside the employability office to facilitate your future career decisions. As well as access to the University's Employability Service you will be provided career guidance including on how to enter and pass recruitment processes for national and international organisations.

Staff members teaching on the programme include world-renowned scholars who combine instruction in core topics with the fruits of their current research. Students will benefit from their networks of contacts, notably as regards internship opportunities in national and international organisations such as the United Nations.

Dr Angus Nurse
Programme Leader

Dr Angus Nurse is a former RSPB Investigations Coordinator and specialises in the field of wildlife and environmental crime. His research focuses on the effectiveness of laws protecting animals and wildlife. He has conducted research on behalf of groups such as the League Against Cruel Sports into dog fighting in the UK.

Dr Merri Juntti
Programme Leader

Dr Meri Juntti has a track record of research in European environmental policy and she has undertaken case studies on policy implementation and sustainability in a number of European countries. She has authored a range of publications on the role of evidence and the representation of environmental values and problems in environmental policy and planning. Her recent funded research includes developing an evaluation framework for the environmental impact of corporate investment in rural land resources, and developing the notion of 'experienced quality' of urban environments so that it can be integrated into the ecosystem services approach in environmental assessment.

During this course, you will have the opportunity to participate on the Practicum in International Organisations. Anna, a recent graduate, spent six months working for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Here’s what she had to say about her experience and how it impacted on her studies at Middlesex University:

  • Law student Anna Szczodry on her Practicum placement at OHCHR.jpg

    Anna Szczodry

    LLM International Minority Right Law graduate (2015)

    This incredible and ambitious programme of study significantly enriched my academic experience and increased my understanding of the role of non-state actors in influencing and managing global change. It also provided a practical experience through first-hand involvement with the operational and strategic activities of globally governing bodies. It really enabled me to further hone my knowledge of the field.

    Read more about Anna's experiences.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

Other courses

Global Governance and Sustainable Development MA

Start: October 2021, January 2022

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL421

Criminology MA

Start: October 2021, September 2021 (EU/INT induction)

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL40X

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