Environmental protection and the quest for environmentally sustainable development that can meet the needs of both present and future generations have become pressing common concerns at both the national and the international level. In past decades, national and international law has developed a wide range of both sector-specific and creative cross-cutting approaches to respond to these challenges. 

This specialisation provides students with a strong theoretical and practical understanding of the environmental legal system, the frameworks of and tools for sustainable environmental management, and the complex policy issues presented by the environmental challenges of the 21st century. Students acquire the skills and understanding needed to address the ‘wicked problems’ posed by environmental sustainability challenges, ensuring they are well equipped for careers in environmental law and environmental policy. The specialisation draws on the expertise of UNSW Law academics and visitors who are nationally and internationally recognised as experts in the field. 

Knowledge and experience students will gain from the specialisation: 

  • Deep understanding of the main legal concepts and principles governing protection of the environment and environmentally sustainable development 
  • Understanding and appreciation of the different methods applied at international and national levels in formulating environmental law, and the mechanisms for enforcement and compliance in environmental law 
  • Awareness and understanding of the challenges posed by the sectoral applications of environmental law and policy, including opportunities to explore the creative use of private and commercial law in pursuit of environmental goals 
  • The opportunity to complement legal approaches with direct study of environmental management and policy approaches in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences 
  • High-achieving students may be able to develop a research interest over the course of their masters studies capable of being developed into a PhD research proposal suitable for the annual UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship scheme 

Possible career outcomes: 

  • Governmental policy advisor (local, state, national) 
  • Local, national and international environmental NGOs 
  • Intergovernmental organisations including the UN and its specialised organisations 
  • Environmental advocate 
  • State, national and international courts and tribunals 
  • Corporate environmental/sustainability officer or advisor 
  • Environmental lawyer (if you hold an LLB/JD) 

Who will do this specialisation? 

Those with a focus on: 

  • Civil society/NGO sector 
  • Government work connected to environment and development 
  • Private practice 
  • Environmental consultancy 
  • Environmental and related IGOs 

UNSW related centres: 

For more information on specialisation structure and courses available in this specialisation visit the online handbook.