LAW 2511 - Environmental Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020

An introduction to the concepts and principles which underpin environmental law from the international to the local level. The course will address Constitutional responsibilities and roles relating to the environment; sustainable development and the law; environmental planning through environmental impact assessment and land-use law; environmental protection principles, climate change water resources law; heritage issues and the protection of biological diversity.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2511
    Course Environmental Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2070
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 2501
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws students only
    Course Description An introduction to the concepts and principles which underpin environmental law from the international to the local level. The course will address Constitutional responsibilities and roles relating to the environment; sustainable development and the law; environmental planning through environmental impact assessment and land-use law; environmental protection principles, climate change water resources law; heritage issues and the protection of biological diversity.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Alex Wawryk

    Course Coordinator: Dr Michelle Lim

    Dr Michelle Lim
    Ligertwood Building


    Twitter: @FutureEnvLaw
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The subject Environmental Law (2511) has a value of 3 units and will be taught as a 3-hour block each week for 12 weeks. 

    The weekly 3-hour block will comprise discussion focussed around a set of reading materials and questions issued prior to the class. Weekly topics are set out in the Lecture Outline on MyUni.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Identify key environmental issues at the international, national, state and local level;

    2. Demonstrate knowledge of key principles of international, national and state law pertaining to protection of the environment;

    3. Describe State and Federal powers, responsibilities and institutions in the field of Australian Environmental Law

    4. Analyse the relationships between environmental laws across multiple sectors and jurisdictions (local, state, national and international) and the interactions with regulatory and policy frameworks beyond the environmental sector;

    5. Develop and execute original environmental law research on a focused topic area.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Students will need to be able to access a number of the statutes used during part of the course, in particular: the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth); the Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008 (SA) and/or the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA); Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA); the Native Vegetation Act 1991 (SA); and the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 (SA).  

    Further resources will be made available on the MyUni website.
    Recommended Resources
    Other references you may find useful are:

    - Gerry Bates, Environmental Law in Australia (10th ed, Lexis Neexis, 2019).

    - DE Fisher, Australian Environmental Law (3rd ed, Thomson Reuters, 2014).

    - Godden, Lee & Peel, Jacqueline, Environmental Law: Scientific, Policy and Regulatory Dimensions, (Oxford University Press, 2009)

    - Rothwell, D.R., Kaye, S., Akhtarkhavari, A. and Davis, R. International Law, Cases and Materials with Australian Perspectives (2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2004). While not specifically focused on international environmental law there is a dedicated international environmental law section. The implications for Australia contained within the book are relevant to this course. 

    The Australian Journals most frequently referred to in this area include:

    - Environmental & Planning Law Journal (EPLJ), Thomson Reuters

    - Local Government Law Journal (LGLJ), Thomson Reuters

    - The Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law & Policy, University of New South Wales.

    A  publication in South Australia in the area of planning law is Planning Law SA, which is a looseleaf service published by Presidian Legal Publications and for whom the consulting editor is an Adelaide barrister, Brian Hayes QC. This publication is basically an annotated version of the Development Act 1993 and the Development Regulations under that Act.

    There is also a looseleaf publication Planning Law in Australia, published by Thomson Reuters (General Editor: Glen McLeod, SA State editor: Paul Leadbeter) which contains an analysis of relevant land use planning laws in all states and territories, including South Australia, as well as some material on laws relating to built heritage and environmental authorisation processes.

    Environmental cases decided in the State Supreme Courts, the Federal Court and the High Court are reported in the Local Government and Environment Reports of Australia (LGERA). All significant decisions of the SA Environment, Resources and Development Court (ERDC) and the SA Supreme Court (where they deal with environmental issues) can be found on-line either throyough Austlii or the SA Courts website.
    Online Learning
    All reading lists and connections through to the listed materials and readings will be available on MyUni. Announcements during the semester will also be posted on MyUni and emailed to all students listed in the course.

    The lecture section of the weekly 3-hour block will be recorded. If for some reason a lecture does not record and a student did not attend that lecture it will be the responsibility of the student to find someone who did attend the missed lecture if they want details and notes about what was covered at the time.

    Decisions of the SA Environment Resources and Development court are also available on-line as follows:

    All decisions after 2003 are on the Court's web site:; and

    Most decisions from 1997 are on Austlii:

    As noted above the Austlii site contains most legislation.


    It can be accessed through the Law Library’s website. Past experience suggests that Austlii is not always up to date with legislation. We recommend Comlaw for Commonwealth legislation and the SA website for South Australian legislation both of which are referred to above under “Required Resources”.

    Further information on the EPBC Act can be found on:

    - the Environment Australia web site:

    The NSW Environmental Defenders Office has produced a useful guide to the EPBC Act (Cth), called Planting the Seed - A Guide to Public Participation and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (2002). This costs $16-00 and is available by mail order from: This website is the site of the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders Offices and is an excellent web based resource in the environmental area with many links to other very useful sites.

    The reading materials for the seminar classes in this course have been selected carefully for their relevance. While they may at times appear formidable, every effort has been made to limit their size. The amount of reading will differ between weeks, but averages over the course of the semester to a 3 unit load. It is essential that you read the materials referred to as “essential reading” for each seminar prior to your participation in that seminar.

    The relevant environmental statutes( and others that will be referred to during the course) can be accessed from the following sites:

    For Commonwealth legislation: Comlaw:

    For SA legislation:

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Environmental law is a large area and this course seeks to provide students with an introduction to a number of the key areas covered under the generic title of “environmental law”. Classes will be delivered in weekly three hour blocks. These teaching blocks will include a mixture of lecture, tutorial and small group discussion.

    Students will be expected to have engaged with the materials on MyUni prior to the weekly class. Failure to have done so will make it very difficult for those students to effectively participate in the weekly 3 hour class. 


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The course requires a weekly commitment of 3 hours in attending the combined lecture and seminar/tutorial class. In addition to the time spent attending the lecture/classes there is a requirement that students prepare for those classes. This will require some reading time before each weekly class, the length of which will vary depending on the class. To actively and usefully participate in the classes and to get the most from them students will be expected to do the allocated reading and preparation. 
    Learning Activities Summary
    Lecture Timetable
    Week 1 Introduction
    Week 2 The Fundamentals of International Environmental Law
    Week 3 Environment, Philosophy, and the Rights of Nature
    Week 4 Environment, Property and the Common Law
    Week 5 Environmental Law: National Perspectives - Common Law & Constitutional Law. Quiz on Weeks 1-4 to be done in class time.
    Week 6 Commonwealth Environmental Assessment and Approval (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth))
    Week 7 Regulating and Assessing Development: State Level (Development Act 1993 (SA); Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA))
    Week 8 Regulation of Activities of Environmental Significance: State level (Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA))
    Mid-Semester Break
    Week 9 Protection of Biological Diversity (including native vegetation clearance controls, reservation of land/water and threatened species controls)
    Week 10 Water Resources – Law and Policy
    Week 11 Heritage Law
    Week 12 No classes: major assignment to be done in Week 12.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Due Weighting Redeemable (Yes/No) Task Type
    Length Learning Outcome
    Online Quiz To be done in class time in Week 5 10% No Individual 1-5
    Essay Question 2pm Tuesday in the second week of the mid-semester break (i.e. the Tuesday before Week 9) 35% No Individual Max. 2500 words 1-5
    Assignment Released Monday 9am in Week 12, and due 5pm Friday in Week 12 55% No Individual Max. 3500 words 1-5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Extensions will only be granted on medical and compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances, and must be supported by the relevant documentation.

    Late Submission Penalties
    When an assessment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend and public holidays. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Word Length Penalties
    5% of the total mark possible for a written assessment will be deducted for every 100 words (or part thereof) by which it exceeds a stipulated word limit. For example, a 3,000 word essay graded at 63% will have 5% deducted if it is between 3,001 and
    3,100 words long for a final mark of 58%. If the essay is between 3,101 and 3,200 words long, 10% will be deducted for a final mark of 53%, etc.

    Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, in quotations, and in footnotes. Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the word limit. If the word limit is misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment for this subject will be made up of:

    (1) An online quiz worth 10% will be available in class time in Week 5 and will assess content from Weeks 1-4. The quiz will be available for the first 90 minutes of the class in Week 5 that is, from 2.10pm-3.40pm. Further detail will be provided on MyUni. It is the responsibility of students to ensure that they are available at this time to take the quiz, and that they have access to a computer and the internet at home or on campus.

    (2) A 2,500 word research essay worth 35% will be due at 2pm on the Teesday in the second week of the mid-semester break (i.e. the Tuesday before Week 9). Students will choose one essay question from a short list of questions which will cover selected issues/topics related to Weeks 1-5 of the course. The questions will be provided on MyUni before the start of semester.

    (3) The major assignment (max. 3,500 words) worth 55%, will be released 9am Monday in Week 12, and will be due 5pm Friday of Week 12. The assignment will assess content from Weeks 6-12. The assignment will consist of one or more problem-based questions.

    Extensions will only be granted on medical and compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances, and must be supported by the relevant documentation.


    Presentation of assignments
    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. Both the essay and assignment must be submitted electronically through the Turnitin portal. Details of the process for electronic submission (through MyUni) will be provided during the early part of the semester.

    Consistent with Law School policy, the primary communication mechanism for this course will be through placing announcements on MyUni. It is essential that students regularly check the announcements page for information. It is your responsibility to check MyUni regularly to ensure you have the most recent information. Any urgent information (such as unexpected cancellation of classes due to illness) will be sent to you by email as well as placed on MyUni.

    Return of Assignments and Feedback
    Assignments will be returned to students via the Turnitin portal within 4 weeks of the due date with feedback, which will be able to be retrieved through the Turnitin portal. A marking rubric for the essay assignment (which indicates the matters the examiner will look for in the submitted essays) will be provided to all students in Week 1. Students will be notified by email when assignments can be retrieved from the Turnitin portal.

    Late Submission
    5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    Word Length
    Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes, headings and quotations within the text but excluding cover page information and bibliographies.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible  moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment  results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is  required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Acess Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Student feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.