Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

LAWS6180 Marine Environmental Law

Module Overview

This module studies the international regulatory framework for the marine environment, its achievements, shortcomings and future challenges. The law of the marine environment has taken shape over several decades, responding to challenges caused by shipping incidents as well as other sources of pollution, and has become a complex framework of international conventions, developed through international consensus, and reinforced through technical developments in the committees of the International Maritime Organisation and other regional organisations. As regulation through conventions is a long and slow process and consensus-dependant, the framework is often insufficient to tackle immediate challenges such as climate change and ocean plastic pollution. In addition, compliance and enforcement are hampered by a variety of factors. We look at the international regulatory framework for shipping and the environment as well as factors preventing enforcement.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The main principles which govern the international law of the marine environment as it applies to shipping and other offshore activities, and the extent to which English law is influenced by internationally accepted principles.
  • Describe and assess existing areas of debate regarding shipping, other offshore activities and the environment, as to what the law is and what it ought to be, both in the UK and internationally.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse relevant legal materials, including conventions and statutes.
  • Identify and explain the main internationally accepted principles underpinning the law relating to the marine environment.
  • Appraise and criticise existing debates in a national setting, using appropriate legal research skills.
  • Locate and analyse relevant legal and other source materials including contracts and industry forms.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Distinguish relevant from irrelevant materials.
  • Identify and analyse key issues.
  • Think critically, develop coherent arguments in writing.
  • Display clarity and objectivity in written discussion demonstrating an awareness of issue of academic integrity.


The module covers the legal obligations imposed on States in relation to marine environmental protection and enforcement rights under the current treaty framework regarding the regulation of shipping and other offshore activities through a range of IMO specialised international conventions and other regional arrangements. The module syllabus considers the principles of marine environmental liabilities and the role of the shipping industry and the marine offshore industry at large, and addresses key factors preventing effective enforcement. Using case studies for selected contemporary environmental issues, the module discusses how shipping, offshore and seabed activities could or should be regulated through the prism of a holistic approach towards the conservation and management of biodiversity and minimising the effects of climate change.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is taught through seminars (10 x 2hours) which will combine lecture-style and interactive tutorial-style teaching. You are expected to prepare for the seminars by completing allocated reading or any other task. The most important part of learning is your own independent study. This will, however, be closely guided, and firmly tied into the lectures, seminars and assessment. In the seminars you will have the opportunity to present arguments orally to a group of peers and defend your position under challenge.

Independent Study130
Blended Learning20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Sands, P., Peel, J., Fabra, A., & MacKenzie, R. (2018). Principles of International Environmental Law (4th ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.. 

Hassan, D. & Saiful Karim, S. (2018). International Marine Environmental Law and Policy (1st ed.) London: Routledge.. 

The Southampton Volumes of Marine Environmental Law materials. Students are issued with electronic copies of the module’s materials which contain the primary legal instruments required for their study.



Essay or problem question


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 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

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings