LAWS314-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Environmental Law, Policy and Society

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


The nature of environmental law; the merits and disadvantages of statutory and common law approaches to environmental issues; the evolution of environmental concern; particular legal problems arising out of the nature of environmental issues; the precautionary principle; philosophies of human relations with the natural world; possible implications of environmental necessity for political, social, constitutional and economic organisation; environmental economics and issues of public and private property; historical and present-day case studies. This course is offered in alternate years.

This course will provide students with an understanding of contemporary domestic and international legal frameworks governing human interactions with the natural world. Additionally, the course will prompt students to think creatively about how environmental laws could be invoked, reformed, or reimagined to best address some of the most serious challenges of our time, including anthropogenic climate change, mass species extinction, and the social violence associated with various forms of environmental injustice.

The course will familiarise students with the various means through which environmental jurisprudence may be developed, including through statutory, administrative, and judicial regimes. Additionally, the course will provide students with an understanding of the relationship between Te Tiriti o Waitangi and contemporary environmental issues in Aotearoa New Zealand, a background to Tikanga Māori and Tu Ao Turoa. A comparative law perspective will also introduce students to Indigenous customary law approaches, as well as "ecocentric" and environmental justice theories emerging from other jurisdictions, including Australasia and the Americas.

By taking this course, students will gain fluency in contemporary environmental laws and learn to engage critical analytical skills to creatively apply legal principles, towards the end of generating policies that would address major environmental and social challenges. Students will gain knowledge through diverse readings and multimedia materials, including excerpts from scholarly books and edited volumes, academic journals, and documentary films.

Note: this course is being offered annually from 2023.

Learning Outcomes

This course aims to provide students will foundational knowledge about historical, sociocultural, and legal contexts of modern environmental policy, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally. A further aim of the course is to steward students' ability to think creatively and generate innovative ideas about how the law can be adapted to respond to the most pressing environmental and social challenges of the 21st century.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.




Course Coordinator / Lecturer

David Jefferson


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Quiz 23 Aug 2023 10%
Essay 15 Sep 2023 40%
Exam 50%

Assessment may be conducted via an independent writing assignment and a final exam, in addition to participation in group work during lecture hours.

The assessment will be confirmed in the first week of lectures.

Textbooks / Resources

Readings for this course will be selected from Peter Salmon and David Grinlinton (eds) 'Environmental Law in New Zealand (2nd ed, Thomson Reuters, 2018.' A copy of this text book is on reserve at the University of Canterbury Library. In addition to the text book, readings will be sourced from a number of primary and secondary source materials, including statutes, international treaties, and judicial decisions. Secondary source materials will include excerpts from legal and interdisciplinary scholarly books and edited volumes, in addition to articles published in law reviews and academic journals.

All readings that do not appear in the text book will be available online in Ako | Learn, in folders corresponding to the week in which the materials should be read. You should do the readings before lectures each week of the semester. Doing so will ensure that you get the most out of the lectures and in-class discussions.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $868.00

International fee $4,488.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Faculty of Law .

All LAWS314 Occurrences

  • LAWS314-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023