Internationally, within the European Union and nationally, there are many laws for managing climate change and other environmental problems. Environmental law is very complex and dynamic. Experts are needed both nationally and internationally. Having the degree from this joint Master's Programme in Environmental Law, with specialisation in climate law and law on management of natural resources, you will be an outstanding candidate in the labour market. You will study at three Nordic universities and each will contribute with its strongest specialist competence in environmental law.
Why this programme?
The programme provides you with knowledge of environmental law at three levels: international, within the EU, and in the different Nordic countries. The goal is to provide high qualifications 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 of environmental law. You will acquire special legal knowledge and skills within two key environmental fields:
management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity, and
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 will give you an international experience within and alongside the education. Each university has its own cultural and social environment.
It is a two-year programme with a range of courses. There is a strong research approach in the programme. Almost all the teachers have a PhD degree in law. You are expected to carry out your 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, which creates a very international study environment.
The programme leads to a joint degree from the three participating universities: Master of Legal Science (120 credits) (Uppsala University), Master of International and Comparative Law (University of Eastern Finland), Master of Laws (UiT The Arctic University of Norway).
The programme consists of three parts: introduction to environmental law, in-depth studies within two environmental law areas, and a further specialisation in a Master's thesis.
Introduction to environmental law The first part gives you a broad introductory course, focusing on the Role of Law in Environmental Policies (first semester, Uppsala). You will learn about the functions and potentials of different environmental legal instruments and principles, as well as how legislation and legal principles can counteract the implementation of environmental objectives and green growth. You will also learn how international and EU environmental law interact with national law. You will learn about the basic structures and challenges in environmental law of all Nordic states.
In-depth studies within two environmental law areas The second part of the programme takes place from the end of the first semester and throughout the entire second and third semester. It is a specialization within two environmental legal areas, both being of fundamental importance from an international, EU and Nordic perspective. One of the areas is law on management of natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity.A first introductory course in Uppsala, introduces you to the management of natural resources (forest, water, wind etcetera) and nature conservation, as stipulated in international law, EU law and the law in the Nordic countries. In the second semester in Joensuu, you take courses in international law and forests, international water law, environmental impact assessment and international economic law and the law on green transition. In the third semester in Tromsø, you study international law and sustainable use of living marine natural resources.
The other specialization area is climate change and energy law. The first course takes place in Joensuu in the second semester. It provides a basic understanding of the climate change challenge, and key legal mechanisms and policies related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. You will also take a course in international economic law and the green transition. This course will provide a broad overview of the key international legal instruments and institutions that are relevant for green transitions.
In Tromsø, you will take a course that provides 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.
Master's thesis During the third part of the programme, in the final semester, you will write a Master's thesis, based on your in-depth knowledge acquired in the courses about the two environmental law areas. 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. In order to be accepted to this fourth semester, the student must have completed 75 credits of the programme courses.
Courses within the programme
Semester 1: Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. Introduction - The Role of Law in Environmental Policies (15 credits) Law on Management of Natural Resources and Protection of Biodiversity (15 credits)
Semester 2: Studies at University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu. Climate Change Law and Policy, 5 credits International Economic Law and the Green Transition, 5 credits International Environmental Law II, 5 credits International Law and Forests, 5 credits Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, 5 credits International Water Law, 5 credits
Semester 3: Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. Energy and Climate Change Law, 15 credits Protection of the Marine Environment with Focus on Marine Living Resources Law, 15 credits
Semester 4: Master's thesis in Environmental Law, 30 credits, at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. Seminars are held at the beginning and in the middle of the semester. There is no obligation for students to stay in Uppsala, Tromsø or Joensuu. Participation in the seminars is compulsory but most of them may be attended on video links.
The programme contains different teaching methods, such as lectures and seminars. The teaching methods vary according to the goals of the courses. The teaching is highly focused on problem solving, critical thinking and active student participation. On a seminar, you present your ideas and discuss with your classmates regarding a course book or other study material that you are required to prepare before the seminar; while the teacher usually only moderates the discussion. The aim is to develop critical thinking and collaborative skills. All the students are expected to be active participants in all forms of discussions.
You often work in a group with other students. This way, you learn from each other and you train to be a team player. It can take place in form of seminars that include analyses of court cases or constructed hypothetical cases, and also made-up court cases with active role playing among students. The group consists of a maximum of 25 students.
The education is essentially theoretical, and almost all professors have a PhD degree. The plan is to engage with teachers as well as lawyers with practical experiences from courts, companies, authorities and interest groups. Some of the courses will arrange study visits at companies and authorities.
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 University/institution responsible for a course is also responsible for its examination. If possible, practitioners will be involved as advisors (not to be mixed with supervisors or examiners) during the writing of Master's thesis.
The teaching language is English throughout the entire programme.
The field of environmental law is extensive and growing internationally, within the EU and nationally. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for expertise in this complex legal field, not least in connection with 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 Programme, as well as in companies, law firms, environmental organisations, etc. A degree from this Nordic programme in Environmental Law should make you an attractive candidate in the labour market. There is no other Master's programme in the Nordic countries with the same focus.
This degree is also 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 this discipline. Having a degree in environmental law is also an important merit if you apply for another Master's programme with an environmental focus.
Career support During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.
Below you will find the details about eligibility requirements and selection criteria. For information on how to apply, what documents you need to submit, and the application fee, check the application guide. For this programme, besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit three programme-specific documents: 1. a copy of your high school diploma; 2. a statement of purpose; 3. a CV.
Since this is a joint Master's programme, your Bachelor's degree needs to be approved by all participating universities according to the regulations in each country. The high school diploma that you need to submit in your application is to fulfil the admission requirements in Norway. If your diploma is not in English, you should submit both a copy of the diploma in the original language and a translation.
Requirements: 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).
Students are selected based on:
an overall appraisal of previous university studies; and
a statement of purpose (1 page) including information on previous education, work and other experience.