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

This Master of Laws specialisation will provide you 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. Environmental law encompasses a wide and diverse range of issues: energy, climate change, biodiversity conservation, water and oceans, agriculture, finance and international development, but also (and especially in Australia, as one of the world’s most urban nations) issues like city planning, commons, platform and sharing economies, transport, housing and corporate social responsibility. 

You'll acquire the skills and understanding needed to address the ‘wicked problems’ posed by environmental sustainability challenges and be equipped to pursue a career in environmental law and environmental policy. The specialisation draws on UNSW Law & Justice academics and visitors nationally and internationally recognised as experts in the field.

Knowledge and experience you’ll gain from this specialisation

  • Deep understanding of the main legal concepts and principles governing the protection of the environment and 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 UNSW Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture. 

  • High-achieving students may be able to develop a research interest throughout their masters studies capable of being developed into a PhD research proposal.

Possible career outcomes

  • Governmental policy advisor (local, state or 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 or sustainability officer or advisor. 

  • Environmental lawyer (if you hold an LLB/JD).

Who should study this specialisation?

Those with a focus on:

  • civil society or the NGO sector 

  • government work connected to environment, planning, development 

  • private practice 

  • environmental consultancy 

  • environmental and related NGOs.

Related UNSW centres

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

UNSW Master of Laws