Joint Nordic Master's Programme in Environmental Law

120 credits

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.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, Joensuu, Tromsø, 100%, On-campus, English

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), and Master of Laws (UiT The Arctic University of Norway).

The programme comprises four semesters.

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.

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.

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.

The fourth semester is administered by UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, 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

Semester 1, 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, 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, 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

Semester 4, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø

  • Master's thesis in Environmental Law, 30 credits.

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.

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.