Internationally, within the European Union (EU) and nationally, there are many legal frameworks and processes for managing climate change and other environmental problems. Environmental law is a complex and dynamic field of law and experts are in demand both nationally and internationally. The Nordic Master Programme in Environmental Law gives you a competitive degree. You will study at three Nordic universities, all with specialist competence in Environmental Law.
Note that you will study at Uppsala University (Uppsala), University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu), and UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø).
Why this programme?
The programme provides you with knowledge of international and EU environmental law, with case studies on implementation from the 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).
How did you choose your programme?
– After graduating from my law studies I knew I wanted to continue with a specialisation in environmental law. I was interested in doing my Master’s abroad and the Joint Nordic Master Programme in Environmental Law caught my attention. After looking into it I was convinced that all the three universities jointly organising this programme have high expertise in the field of environmental law and offer a very versatile and topical curriculum.
What is something special about your programme?
– The programme, between friends “NOMPEL”, is not only bringing together the academic talent of three Nordic universities but also letting the students discover all three countries during their studies. It was amazing to experience the historical student city of Uppsala during the first semester, to then move to Joensuu in Finland for the second semester. There, we get to enjoy the wintery landscapes and lively student festivities. Lastly, we spend the third semester in Tromsø, Norway in the middle of the breathtaking fjords.
What is the best thing about studying at Uppsala University?
– Hands down the best part of studying in Uppsala is the student nations. Their events and parties are some of my best memories in Uppsala and I met some of my best friends there. It is great how Uppsala University really values the social input of nations and recommends international students to engage in them.
– One memory that I will always hold close to my heart is combining my love for books and dancing in the club evening of Värmlands nation. One of their dance floors is in their library, where this bibliophile could dance the night away with friends.
Do you remember your first impression of Uppsala? Please tell us!
– I remember the morning I biked to my first lecture in Uppsala from my student housing. It was the end of August, and you could still easily be out just with a t-shirt. The bike lanes were filled with a steady queue of students, and I admired the passing buildings which whispered history from past centuries. Suddenly the Uppsala cathedral was in front of me. I was looking in Google Maps where to find my lecture room and to my surprise, it was situated right next to the cathedral on Trädgårdsgatan.
Name three things you are doing this week!
– We are done with the exams of the third semester at the University of Tromsø and now I have time to enjoy the winter in Norway. I will have a dinner party with my study friends, go to my dance lessons and hunt for northern lights in the night-time.
What is your reason for studying, or your ultimate goal?
– I want to find work which helps to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. I believe that understanding the systems of international environmental law can open doors that will lead me down a career path to such jobs.
Three quick questions: What is your favourite place in Uppsala?
– The picturesque roads, next to the Fyris river.
Where is the best place to study?
– The quiet starry room in Ekonomikum.
The first semester of the programme is spent in Uppsala. During this semester two themes are addressed. The first is a general introduction to the role of law in the formulation and implementation of environmental policies. This comprises 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, using Nordic countries as examples, as well as the basic structures and challenges of environmental law making and implementation.
The second theme of the semester is more substantive and relates to the effective management of natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity. The objective is to analyse the relation between the management of natural resources (forest, water, wind etc.) and the interest in conserving biodiversity, as stipulated in international law, EU law and also the law of the Nordic states. This part of the first semester also constitutes the introduction to natural resource management and biodiversity protection, various subfields of which are subject to in-depth discussions during subsequent semesters.
Second semester: University of Eastern Finland (UEF)
The second semester of the programme is spent at the School of Law of the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Joensuu. The university is home to the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (CCEEL), which brings together around 80 senior and junior scholars specialised in climate change, energy, natural resources and environmental law.
At UEF, you will take courses comprising the following themes: climate change law and policy; international environmental law; green transitions; international forest law; international water law; environmental and social impact assessment. All programme courses at UEF are taught by international experts, providing unique insights into developments in international, European, and national environmental law.
Third semester: the Arctic University of Norway (UiT)
The third semester is spent at UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. At UiT you find one of the world's largest research centres for the law of the Sea (Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea, NCLOS), devoted to teaching and research on the law of the sea and marine environmental law. The studies at UiT add to and broaden your in-depth knowledge of marine resource management and biodiversity protection, and energy and climate change Law.
The first course of the semester focuses on marine environmental law and sustainable use of living marine resources and includes studies on the protection of biodiversity in marine harvesting, in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction, and offers case studies on regional implementation.
The second course provides you 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.
Fourth semester: The master's thesis
The fourth semester is administered by UiT, though students are not required to stay in Tromsø throughout the entire semester. You will produce an individual master's thesis on a topic related to the subjects taught in the programme. The topic must be approved by UiT, which will also appoint an academic supervisor.
All students are required to attend a mandatory course training you in legal methodology, thesis structuring and writing skills. Each thesis is evaluated and graded by two examiners appointed by UiT. To be accepted to this fourth semester, you must have completed 75 credits of the programme courses.
Courses within the programme
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)
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
Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø.
Energy and Climate Change Law, 15 credits
Protection of Marine Environment with Focus on Marine Living Resources Law, 15 credits
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. 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. In a seminar, you present your ideas and discuss with your classmates 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 the 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 normally of 25 students.
The focus of the programme is essentially theoretical. Almost all teachers have a PhD degree and many are full professors. Also, lawyers with the practical experience from courts, companies, authorities and interest groups are used as teachers.
Examination of the courses is most often in the form of a 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 the 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 in 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.
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 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. Besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit one programme-specific document: a statement of purpose (1 page).
The statement of purpose should include information on previous education, work and other experience.
The application fee for students from outside the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland is SEK 900. Tuition fee for the first semester at Uppsala University is SEK 50,000. Tuition fees for the other semesters are set by the respective universities, which can be found on their respective websites:
A Bachelor of Law corresponding to at least three years of full-time study (180 credits). Alternatively, a university degree of at least 180 credits, comprising or in combination with at least 90 credits in legal science.
Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at universityadmissions.se.
Selection: Students are selected based on:
an overall appraisal of previous university studies; and
a statement of purpose including information on previous education, work and other experience.