LAW 7181 - Introduction to Environmental Law PG

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

The course examines regulatory mechanisms that address environmental problems and focuses particularly upon regulation of development. Included are: a general introduction to the law and the legal system; the nature of environmental problems in Australia; constitutional responsibilities and powers with respect to environmental planning and protection; land-use planning and protection systems; environmental impact assessment ; regulation of pollution and waste disposal; and environmental litigation.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7181
    Course Introduction to Environmental Law PG
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Restrictions Not Available for Law Graduates
    Assessment Participation - 10%, individual assignment - 15%, group assignment - 30%, essay - 45%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Kerryn Brent

    Course Coordinator (Lecturer Weeks 5-12) Dr Kerryn Brent
    Kerryn is located in the Adelaide Law School, Ligertwood Building, Room 311, Ph: 08 8313 2878

    Lecturer (Weeks 1-4) Kyra Reznikov
    Kyra is a lawyer in private practice who has a large environmental law practice for a range of corporate and private clients. She also has a Chemical  engineering degree with First Class Honours.

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1. Explain and critically evaluate environmental regulation at a state, Commonwealth and international level;
    2. Identify and critically analyse policies and principles that influence environmental law at an international, Commonwealth and state level, including the principle of ecologically sustainable development;
    3. Develop and articulate legal arguments and apply them to environmental problems individually and in a group context;
    4. Conduct independent research to evaluate legal problem scenarios, analyse normative questions, and complete a sustained legal research project;
    5. Clearly explain environmental issues and evaluate the ideas of others regarding the role of environmental law and potential legal solutions;
    6. Work individually and collaboratively to identify potential environmental law problems in relation to development proposals, and recommend how such issues might be managed.

    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
    3, 5, 6
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    4, 6
    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
    3, 5, 6
    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
    3, 5, 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no prescribed textbooks for this subject. However, students are expected to access and engage with relevant legislation throughout the course, and complete readings for each week as set out in MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    The following is an excellent recommended (but not required) text. Several copies are held on reserve in the law library. A lecture outline and recommended reading for those wishing to explore the topics further and reading materials for each seminar will be available online through MyUni.

    • GM Bates, Environmental Law in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths 10th Ed, 2019).

    • Other useful texts include:
    DE Fisher, Australian Environmental Law (Thomson Reuters, 3rd Ed, 2014).
    L Godden, J Peel & J McDonald, Environmental Law (Oxford University Press, 2nd Ed, 2019).

    The Australian Law 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 NSW
    Online Learning
    The course uses a mixture of lectures, powerpoint presentations, video clips and in class discussion as well as the MyUni discussion board to support learning and teaching.

    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.

    Students will be required to use the internet to access a number of relevant policy documents such as legislation and the Planning and Design Code, water allocation plans and environment protection policies and in class demonstrations will explain how to locate and interpret such policies and apply them to help resolve problems. MyUni is used extensively and students are required to locate relevant documents via links provided as part of the explanatory and background materials for each week.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course consists of classes totalling three hours a week that will be a combination of lectures and tutorials.

    Each week there will be a two hour lecture and a one hour tutorial.

    The tutorials will comprise a mixture of discussion points and problem-solving sessions assisting students to gain an understanding of the practical application of some of the material covered in lectures. Students are expected to come prepared to tutorials, having watched the relevant lecture material, completed set readings and considered the questions and activities set for that week.

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

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

    Contact time: 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorials each week. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time across the semester.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours of private study each week per 3-unit course in addition to your regular classes. This means that in addition to lectures and tutorials, students should spend approximately 9 hours per week in private study in the course across the semester. This includes doing the readings, preparing for lecture and seminar activities, and undertaking assessment tasks.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The topics addressed in this course will include the following. At the commencement of the course a more detailed timetable for each week will be made available on MyUni.
    Sources of law and the Australian legal system

    International environmental law
    The principle of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)
    Land use planning & development law 
    Control & licensing of environmentally significant activities & pollution in South Australia
    Commonwealth environment protection laws
    Water resources law and policy
    Conservation of biological diversity
    Climate change & the law
  • 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 Task Type Due Weighting Length Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Academic Integrity Quiz Individual Week 1 5% No University Policy / Ethics
    Tutorial participation Individual

    Students allocated a week between weeks 6-12

    5% No 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
    Assignment 1: Short Answer Questions Individual

    2pm 23 August 2021 

    15% 1,500 words No 1-4
    Assignment 2: Report Individual 2pm 27 September 2021 30% 2,000 words No 1-6
    Assignment 3: Research Essay Individual 2pm 1 November 2021 45% 3,000 words No 1-6
    Assessment Detail
    Academic Integrity Quiz: (5%)
    This assessment requires all students to complete a module on appropriate referencing for University work and related academic integrity issues and then complete an online quiz. Students can take the quiz multiple times. The module and quiz must be completed by the end of Week 1.

    Tutorial participation: (5%)

    In tutorials, students are expected to participate in group discussions and activities, and actively contribute to the class. In week 1, students will be allocated one seminar between weeks 6-12 in which they will be a discussion leader. There may be multiple discussion leaders per week. Discussion leaders will be expected to lead discussions and activities, and may be called upon specifically to answer questions. Students will be evaluated on the quality of their participation and contributions for the week in which they are a discussion leader.

    Assignment 1: Short Answer Questions (15%)

    Submission date: 2pm 23 August 2021.

    The assignment will consist of a series of questions which will be issued in week 1. The questions will relate to material covered in the lectures in Week 1-4. The word limit is 1500 words. Footnotes are not included in the word limit. Students are not required to provide a bibliography.

    Marks will be deducted for late submissions and submissions exceeding the word limit in accordance with standard university policies (see below).

    Submission instructions will be provided with the assignment questions.

    Assignment 2: Report (30%)

    Submission date: Mid-semester break, 2pm 27 September 2021.

    Students will be required to look at a problem scenario which raises a number of legal and policy issues in the environmental area. They will be required to assume that they have been asked to prepare a report for either an executive board or the senior management team within a private organisation or government agency. The report will need to set out the nature of the problem and suggest strategies for dealing with that problem.

    The length of the report will be 2,000 words maximum. The report should be footnoted and, where references are made to other authorities, accompanied by a bibliography. The footnotes and bibliography are not counted in the calculation of the length of the report.

    The problem will be made available in week 5.

    Marks will be deducted for late submissions and submissions over the word limit in accordance with standard university policies (see below)

    Assignment 3: Research Essay (45%)

    Submission date: 2pm 1 November 2021.

    Students will be required to write a research essay on a topic relevant to the matters discussed during the course.

    A list of topics will be made available in week 8.

    The essay has a 3,000 word limit.
    Submission of Assignments

    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    All assignments in this course are to be submitted electronically through Turnitin. Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the assignment instructions.

    All written work in the Law School is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made electronically according to law school policy. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not unexpected circumstances.

    Turnaround time: The interim assignments for this course will be returned to students within 2 – 4 weeks of the submission date.

    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 assignment 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, but exclude citations 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.

    Return Of Assignments and Feedback
    It is intended that assignments  be returned to students within 2-4 weeks of the due date with written feedback.
    Students will be notified by email when assignments are available.
    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.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    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 Access 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 Integrity
    All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy. Academic Misconduct is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic Misconduct (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 Integrity 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.