The University of Southampton

LAWS6102 Law of the Marine Environment

Module Overview

The Law of the Marine Environment Module provides a detailed study of laws and policies on marine environmental protection applicable to shipping and offshore structures. It starts by exploring the rights and obligation of coastal, flag and port states concerning the marine environment as detailed under the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention, customary international law, and general environmental law principles. The module then explores environmental liability for marine pollution by examining regulatory systems at three levels: international, regional (European Union) and national. This part is accompanied by a study of the way environmental claims are treated in terms of jurisdiction, applicable law and pre-trial security. Liability for pollution from offshore structures and a selection from specific topics involving recent developments, like atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from ships, ship-recycling, protection of the Arctic environment and navigation are also covered.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• to study the laws and policies regarding marine environmental protection from shipping and offshore activities; • to seek to develop insights in the interrelationship between regulatory systems of environmental protection, including the prevention of and compensation for harm, at three levels: international, regional (European Union) and national; • to focus, as a matter of comparative law, on the recent legislation in the area of liability and compensation for transboundary environmental harm as well as comparing solutions at different regulatory levels; • to prepare you for employment in private practice, corporate or public employment with a large marine environmental law component by developing your transferable and problem-based learning skills.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the various techniques for dealing with marine environmental problems arising from shipping and offshore activities;
  • the integrated ways the regulation of marine environmental problems from shipping has taken place in international, European and domestic law;
  • the interaction between Conventions/Regulations and other supranational legislation as well as selected provisions of national laws dealing with marine environmental law, notably pollution, damages to biodiversity, transfrontier shipments of waste and climate change;
  • the legislative developments at global level, regional and EU level in selected topics, notably in relation to environmental liability, environmental protection and implementation of relevant regulations on ships;
  • the interaction between public and private law;
  • the transnational enforcement of international and European Union environmental law before national courts.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • explain similarities and differences in national approaches, outcomes, regulatory policies and underlying philosophies;
  • to identify legal problems raised by cases involving marine environmental harm;
  • to evaluate and critically apply an understanding of the law as it interacts at different levels of regulation to a range of different problem areas;
  • form your own independent and personal view on the desirability and viability of harmonisation of environmental protection law for shipping and offshore activities.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • to handle primary sources of marine environmental law and secondary literature from several jurisdictions as well as at the level of the EU and international conventions.


This module consist of three parts. Part I focuses on the legal obligations imposed on states in relation to marine environmental protection and enforcement rights under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and other Conventions. Part II focuses on the ways these obligations are reflected in the regulation of shipping activities. Civil liability for pollution damage is part three. Selected environmental issues including ship and offshore facility recycling, damages to biodiversity as well as the ways climate change laws are affecting shipping and offshore activities will also be studied. Some major framework conventions and the ways these have been implemented through conventions applicable in particular sectors. Seminar 1 The content and methodology of the course. Introduction to the content of the course and assignments. Introduction to the structure of shipping and offshore activities and the interests of coastal and flag states. Seminar 2 and 3 Obligations imposed on coastal states to protect the marine environment. Prescriptive and enforcement jurisdiction for coastal, flag and port states. The conflicts between freedom of navigation and environmental protection. Seminar 4 The role of the International Maritime Organisation. The 1958 IMCO Convention. Governance of the IMO. Flag states, coastal states and NGOs. The MEPC and the Legal Committee. Seminar 5 The MARPOL Convention, its enforcement and implementation. Contractual arrangements supporting MARPOL. Seminar 6 Recycling of ships and exportation of hazardous cargo by ships. Seminar 7 Basis of environmental liability. The polluter pays principle, the no harm principle the precautionary principle. The problems of recovery under national law. Seminar 8 Liability for oil pollution from ships under the CLC and the Bunker Pollution Convention. Seminar 9 The contribution of the oil industry- The Fund Convention. Seminar 10 Liability for the carriage of hazardous and noxious substances under the HNS Convention. Seminar 11 Liability under US law. The Oil Pollution Act 1990. Seminar 12 Liability under CERCLA. Seminars 13 Directive 2004/35 , Waste directive. Seminar 14 Jurisdiction for marine environmental harm. Seminar 15 Enforcement measures, arrest, security and limitation of liability. Seminar 16 Directive 2004/35 Recoverable damages. Seminar 17 Pollution from ships and climate change. Seminar 18 Governance of offshore installations, pipelines and offshore facilities under UNCLOS and regional agreements. Seminar 19 Liability for pollution from offshore installations. Recycling of offshore installations. Seminar 20. Shipping and Offshore facilities in the Arctic.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught by weekly seminars and involves: • Non-assessed assignment • Presentation by students • Class room discussion Teaching methods include Teaching will be by one two hour seminar per week. Seminars will develop: • the structure of the subject and the presently applicable principles and policies • about the major controversies and problems existing in relation to the interpretation of the legal provisions • draft legal instruments which are expected to change the law applicable Learning activities include Student presentations

Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Resources. The course will utilise resources from various aspects of law. There is no single textbook suitable for the course because the course spans private and public international law.





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Examination  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Examination  (2 hours) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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