Environmental Law - master

Varighet: 2 Years

Foto: FernandoCortes
Foto: FernandoCortes

Environmental Law - master

Varighet: 2 Years

Uppsala, Ukjent, Tromsø
Application deadline
15. januar
How to apply?

Internationally, within the EU and nationally, there are many laws for managing climate change and other environmental problems. Environmental law is very complex and dynamic and experts are requested both nationally and internationally. The Joint Nordic Master´s Programme in Environmental Law (NOMPEL) gives you a competitive degree. You will study at three Nordic universities, all with specialist competence in environmental law.

The programme provides knowledge in environmental law at three levels: internationally, within the EU and in the different Nordic countries. The goal is to create good conditions for those who are interested in legal work in the field of environment, nationally or internationally, but also for those who wish to study for a PhD in environmental law. 

The programme gives you basic theoretical and methodological knowledge in environmental law. You acquire special legal knowledge and skills within two key environmental fields: (i) management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity and (ii) climate change and energy transition. 

You will study in three Nordic countries, first at Uppsala University in Sweden, then at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu, and finally at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. This gives you international experience within and alongside the education. Each university has its own cultural and social environment. The programme provides a financial contribution to travels between universities.

It is a two-year programme with a range of courses. There is a strong research approach in the programme; almost all teachers have a PhD degree in law and, furthermore, students are expected to carry out their own investigations before seminars and to complete a Master's thesis (30 credits). Law students from all over the world can apply to the programme (see below for eligibility requirements). The group consists of a maximum of 25 students.

Spørsmål om studiet

Lene Emilie Øye ns 122.jpg
Øye, Lene Emilie


The programme consists of three phases: (i) introduction to environmental law, (ii) in-depth studies within two environmental law areas and (iii) a further specialisation in a Master's thesis.

(i) The first phase entails a broad introductory course, basically a discussion on the Role of Law in Environmental Policies (Uppsala). The student will learn the functions and potentials of different environmental legal instruments and principles, as well as how legislation and legal principles can counteract implementation of environmental objectives and green growth. The student will also learn how international and EU environmental law interact with national law and the basic structures and challenges in environmental law, in all Nordic states. In addition, the students will be introduced, early on, to the coming NOMPEL courses in the second phase and to the challenges connected with the authoring of a master thesis, during the third phase.

(ii) Building upon a general understanding of environmental law (i.e. the influence of international and EU law and the basic legal similarities and differences between the Nordic states), the second phase (end of the first and the entire second and third semesters) provides the student with a specialisation in two environmental legal areas. Both are of fundamental importance from an international, EU and Nordic perspective. One of the legal areas is the law on Effective Management of Natural Resources, Including the Protection of Biodiversity. In a first introductory course in Uppsala, the objective is to analyse the relation between the management of natural resources (forest, water, wind etc.) and the interest of conserving biodiversity, as stipulated in international law, EU law and the law of the Nordic states. In Joensuu, the students continue with the natural resource theme and take courses on international law and forests, international water law as well as on environmental impact assessment and international economic law and the law on green transition. The course held in Tromsø, on international law and sustainable use of living marine natural resources, includes studies on the protection of biodiversity in marine harvesting, in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction, and offers case studies on national implementation.

The second specialisation area is climate change and energy law. The first course in this specialisation takes place in Joensuu and provides students with a basic understanding of the climate change challenge and key legal mechanisms and policies related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. In Joensuu, students will also take a course on international economic law that considers the context of environmental and climate law. The course pays particular attention to the context of green transition in international economic law. In Tromsø, the students continue with a course that provides them with advanced knowledge of the interdependence between climate and energy, including the implications of climate change law for the energy sector, renewable energy, emissions trading and carbon capture and storage. The course will also offer case studies from the Arctic.

During the second phase, NOMPEL has made use of the specific competencies of the respective law institutions. Still, in order to include the Nordic perspective, materials and lecturers from other Nordic states will also be involved in the courses, in order for the students to understand how environmental objectives, established in international and EU law, are implemented in different Nordic states. We have already contacted Danish and Icelandic environmental law professors and they are willing to give input into the courses.

(iii) During the third phase of the programme (fourth semester), you will write a Master's thesis, based upon your in depth knowledge acquired in the courses on legal management of natural resources and protection of biodiversity, and climate and energy law. The thesis shall analyse a specific topic within one of these two areas. A supervisor will support your writing. During seminars, you will be advised in matters of legal methodology, structuring and writing skills. The final thesis is subject to opposition in a seminar at the end of the course. In order to be accepted to the fourth semester, the student must have completed 75 ECTS credits of the programme courses.


The objective of NOMPEL is to educate and examine master students with competencies in three complementary domains, as stipulated in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), annex 2:

(i) Knowledge and Understanding: Candidates who can:

Identify and comprehend complex environmental legal issues concerning, inter alia, the role of law in connection with (a) implementation of climate policies and in particular the transformation to sustainable energy systems and (b) effective management of natural resources including halting the loss of biodiversity;

Raise fundamental questions about the concepts of sustainable development, natural resources management, biodiversity conservation, climate change and sustainable energy systems;

Identify and understand international, EU and Nordic environmental and energy specificities and interests and the interaction with national policies and interests in the Nordic countries;

Identify and understand the economic and policy concerns in solving the legal problems and issues arising in this field;

(ii) Intellectual Competences/Competence and Skills: Candidates who have the:

Ability to reflect on various environment law topics and to ask critical questions from a legal perspective;

Ability to synthesize concisely the complexity of intricate energy and environmental regulation topics and to create an overview of these topics;

Ability to work independently and to carry out an integrated and comprehensive legal analysis of national and transnational environmental and energy law issues;

Ability to seek out and select relevant legislative documents and cases;

Ability to comprehend national and transnational environmental and energy law problems and to set up a solution;

Ability to successfully undertake written assignments, deliver oral presentations and conduct small-scale research in an area of sustainable environmental and energy law that will be of value in developing policy and professional practice, and applying regulatory frameworks and implementing instruments related to climate change, sustainable energy systems, effective management of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity.

(iii) Practical Competencies/Competence and Skills: Candidates who can:

Communicate and draw up legal solutions both orally and in writing.

Correctly and comprehensively advise and guide clients within the issues of environmental law, in particular, in relation to climate change, sustainable energy, resource management and biodiversity;

Contribute to the design and development policies and regulations with the aim of managing climate change, sustainable energy systems, effective resource management and conservation of biodiversity;

Develop the competencies required to professionally advise businesses, organizations and public authorities on the adoption, implementation, supervision, development and control of sustainable energy and environmental regulation mechanisms;

Manage and develop the area of national and transnational environmental and energy regulation, including the identification of new solutions to support the transition to a sustainable, low carbon and resource efficient economy;

Independently initiate and implement collaborations that embrace different legal disciplines; and

Take part in the new developments and transitions taking place in the Nordic countries, Europe and globally, in accordance with internationally agreed upon aims on climate change, sustainable energy systems, effective resource management and conservation of biodiversity.

(iv) Judgement and Approach: Candidates who can:

Demonstrate the ability to make assessments in environmental law with regard to disciplinary, social and ethical aspects and to demonstrate awareness of ethical aspects of research and development work;

Demonstrate insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used; and

Demonstrate the ability to identify the personal need for further knowledge and take responsibility for his or her ongoing learning.

The Joint Nordic Master Programme in Environmental Law is given the first time at the start of the autumn semester 2019 and it is therefore not possible to say for sure how a degree from the programme will be valued in the labour market (although the results from a minor inquiry in 2016, among possible employees in Sweden, was positive). It is clear, however, that environmental law is extensive and growing internationally, within the EU and nationally. Therefore, expertise in this complex legal field is requested, not least in connection with a sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity and in the field of climate and energy law. Environmental law experts are needed at ministries, at state and municipal authorities, in courts, within the EU Commission, and the UN Environmental Program, as well as in companies, law firms, environmental organisations, etc. A degree from the Nordic environmental law program should then be very competitive. There is no other Master's programmes in the Nordic countries with the same focus. 

This degree is very valuable if you apply for PhD studies in environmental law. Environmental law research is very active, not least in the Nordic countries. Universities require competent researchers and professors in the discipline. Having a degree in environmental law is also an important merit if you apply for another Master programme with environmental focus.

Term 10 ects 10 ects 10 ects
First semester (fall)
Introduction - The Role of Law in Environmental Policies (15 ECTS)
Law on Management of Natural Resources and Protection of Biodiversity (15 ECTS)
Uppsala University, Sweden
Second semester (spring)
Climate Change Law and Policy (5 ECTS)
International Economic Law and the Green Transition (5 ECTS)
International Environmental Law II (5 ECTS)
International Law and Forests (5 ECTS)
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (5 ECTS)
International Water Law (5 ECTS)
University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu
Third semester (fall)
JUR-3619: Energy and Climate Change Law (15 ECTS)
JUR-3623: Protection of the Marine Environment with Focus on Marine Living Resources Law (15 ECTS)
UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
Fourth semester (spring)
JUR-3920: Master thesis in Environmental Law (30 ECTS)
No obligation for students to stay in Uppsala, Tromsø or Joensuu.

Since this is a joint Master's programme your Bachelor's degree needs to be approved by all participating universities according to the rules in each country. Note that the application to the programme is submitted to Uppsala University only.

Academic requirements

A Bachelor of Law or another equivalent university degree, corresponding to at least three years of full-time study (180 ECTS credits). The degree must be relevant to the programme and include at least 90 ECTS credits in legal science. 

Language requirements

IELTS 6.5 (min. 5.5 in writing)/TOEFL pBT 580 (min. 4.5 in writing)/TOEFL iBT: 90 (min. 20 in writing).

The participating universities exempt certain students from making tests in English if the knowledge is proved otherwise in accordance with the rules in each NOMPEL country. 

Selection: Students are selected based on:

- a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies; and

- a letter of motivation (1 page), including information on previous education, work and other experience.

Tuition and application fees for non EU/EEA or Swiss citizen

If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. To apply for the programme there is an application fee of SEK 900. Tuition fee for the first semester at Uppsala University is SEK 50 000. The fees for the remaining semesters are set by the respective university.

University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu): https://www.uef.fi/web/admissions/tuition-fees-and-scholarships

UIT, the Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø):There are no tuition fees for international students to study at UiT in Norway.

All students are required to pay a semester fee of NOK 625  per semester to The Arctic Student Welfare Organisation. The payment of this semester fee will allow you to register for classes, sit examinations, access student counselling, gain membership in student organisations and receive a student card. The latter entitles you to reduced fares on public transport and reduced ticket prices to various cultural events, etc.

The programme contains different teaching methods, such as lectures and seminars. The teaching methods vary according to the objectives of the different courses. The teaching is highly focused on problem solving, critical thinking and active student participation in form of preparation before seminars and oral and written performances at those. You often work in a group with other students. The seminars include analyses of court cases or constructed hypothetical cases, as well as made-up court cases with the students actively role playing. 

The education is essentially theoretical, and almost all professors have a PhD degree. However, the plan is to engage as teachers also lawyers with practical experiences from courts, companies, authorities, interest groups, etc. Some of the courses will arrange study visits at companies, authorities, etc. If possible, practitioners will be involved as advisors (not supervisors or examiners) during the Master's thesis (part three). Examination of the courses is most often in the form of written exam, but also oral and written achievements in connection with seminars are assessed. The person responsible for a course is also responsible for its examination. 

The teaching language is English throughout the entire programme.