Courses & Units

Current Issues in Environmental Law and Policy LAW639



This course explores the legal and policy context in which some of Australia's most challenging environmental controversies arise. It introduces students to the framework for national and international environmental regulation using a range of topical issues and case studies. In 2020, these case studies will include the 2020 bushfires, protecting the Great Barrier Reef, salmon aquaculture expansion and commercial use of national parks.
Together, these case studies highlight common themes and challenges in environmental governance, including:
• operationalising the principles of ecologically sustainable development;
• problems of regulatory fragmentation and divisions of power;
• the increasing internationalisation of domestic environmental law;
• the importance of public participation in environmental decision-making;
• the role of human rights and environmental ethics in environmental law; and
• the role of the market in environmental regulation.


Unit name Current Issues in Environmental Law and Policy
Unit code LAW639
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Law
Discipline Law
Coordinator Professor Janet (Jan) McDonald
Available as student elective? No
Level Advanced


This unit is currently unavailable.


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* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (see withdrawal dates explained for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2022 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2022 will be available from the 1st October 2021.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Critically reflect on the range of social, political, ethical, economic and ecological factors that influence environmental law, policy, and decision-making.
  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of the division of powers over environmental matters between local, state, and Commonwealth governments, and the role of international bodies.
  • Critique the value and application of the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) in the context of the disputes and case studies discussed in the course.
  • Evaluate the appropriate role and mode of public participation in different types of environmental decisions and disputes at differing geo-political scales.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the role of human rights, ethics and market mechanisms in environmental law and policy.
Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2 Domestic Full Fee
not applicable

1 Please refer here more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses can be found here
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Completion of 150 points of university study (ie 12 x 12.5 point units)


AssessmentExamination - take home (40%)|Attendance (30%)|Presentation (30%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Required readings will be listed in the unit outline prior to the start of classes.

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