Environmental Law - master

Duration: 2 År

Photo: FernandoCortes
Photo: FernandoCortes

Environmental Law - master

Duration: 2 År

Tromsø, Uppsala, Joensuu
Application deadline
16 January
How to apply?

The Joint Nordic Master Programme in Environmental Law (NOMPEL) aims to provide first class learning for students who want to gain expertise in international and EU environmental law and understand their national implementation through case studies, as well as those who want to pursue a PhD in environmental law. The objective is to provide advanced knowledge in environmental law and insight in how crucial environmental issues are managed legally internationally, within EU and in the Nordic states. Students will acquire specialistic knowledge and legal expertise on the management of natural resources, the protection of biodiversity, climate change and the energy transition.

There is a strong research approach in the programme; almost all teachers have a PhD degree in law and, furthermore, students are expected to carry out their own investigations before seminars and to complete a individually written Master's thesis.

NOMPEL is an advanced full-time study programme of 120 ECTS credits, with a nominal study length of two years, comprising of four semesters. The Programme is planned for up to 25 students of any nationality. The Programme includes the following parts:

The first semester of the programme, comprising 30 ECTS, is spent in Uppsala. In the second semester of the programme, students will relocate to School of Law of the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, where NOMPEL students take courses, for a total of 30 ECTS. Before the third semester, students move to UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. Two courses, comprising 30 ECTS in total, are taught sequentially. During the fourth semester, students will produce a 30 ECTS master’s thesis on a topic linked to the objects taught in the programme.

This means that NOMPEL gives you the opportunity to study in three Nordic countries, at universities that all have specialist competence in environmental law. This gives you international experience within and alongside the education, since each university has its own cultural and social environment.

Questions about the study

Eva R van der Marel

Associate Professor

Jørgen Ytreberg

Senior advisor

Information about semester start

General description:

Throughout their studies at Uppsala University, University of Eastern Finland and UiT the Arctic University of Norway, NOMPEL students acquire in-depth knowledge of the law on effective management of natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity, and climate change and the energy transition. NOMPEL builds on the expertise at the three partner institutions.

Updated course descriptions for the courses taught at the different institutions are available at the respective institution’s website.

First semester: Uppsala University (UU)

The first semester of the programme, comprising 30 ECTS, 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 implementation of environmental objectives and green growth. Students 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 first 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 of 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.

Second semester: University of Eastern Finland (UEF)

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, NOMPEL students take courses, for a total of 30 ECTS, 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 NOMPEL courses at UEF are taught by international experts, providing unique insights into developments in international, European, and national environmental law. At UEF, NOMPEL students also have access to a host of extracurricular activities organised for all CCEEL Masters students.

Third semester: UiT the Arctic University of Norway (UiT)

The third semester is spent at UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. At UiT you find one of the worlds’ 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 broadens the student’s in-depth knowledge on marine resource management and biodiversity protection and energy and climate change Law. The courses in Tromsø are taught subsequently and gives a total of 30 ECTS.

The first course 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 students 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. 

Fourth semester: The master's thesis

The fourth semester is administered by UiT, where the students must register, though students are not required to stay in Tromsø throughout the entire semester. Students 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 students in legal methodology, thesis structuring and writing skills. Each thesis is evaluated and graded by two examiners appointed by UiT.

The objective of NOMPEL is to educate and examine master students with competencies in three complementary domains, as stipulated in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), annex 2:

Knowledge and Understanding: Candidates can:

  • identify and comprehend complex environmental legal issues concerning, inter alia, the role of law in connection with (a) design and implementation of environmental law and policy and in particular the transformation of energy systems and (b) effective management of natural resources, including preventing the loss of biodiversity;

  • understand legal questions concerning sustainable development, natural resources management, biodiversity conservation, climate change and sustainable energy systems;

  • identify and understand the nature and interaction of international and EU environmental law and their national implementation, including by using Nordic case studies;

  • identify and understand the economic, social and policy concerns in solving the legal problems and issues arising in this field;

Competence and Skills: Candidates have the ability to:

  • reflect on various environment law topics and to ask critical questions from a legal perspective;

  • synthesize intricate environmental law problems;

  • work independently and to carry out an integrated and comprehensive analysis of environmental and energy law;

  • identify and select relevant legislative documents and cases;

  • successfully undertake written assignments, deliver oral presentations and conduct small-scale research in environmenal law and energy law, implementing policies and applying regulatory frameworks and instruments;

  • correctly and comprehensively advise on issues of environmental law, in particular, in relation to climate change, sustainable energy, resource management and biodiversity;

  • develop the competencies required to professionally advise businesses, organizations and public authorities on the adoption, implementation, supervision, development and control of sustainable energy and environmental regulation;

  • identify new solutions to support the transition to a sustainable, low carbon and resource efficient economy;

Judgement and Approach: Candidates can:

  • demonstrate the ability to evaluate environmental law processes and mechanisms with regard to disciplinary, social and ethical aspects. Demonstrate insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used; and

  • demonstrate the ability to identify a need for developing their personal knowledge and take responsibility for their ongoing learning.

It is clear, that environmental law is extensive and growing internationally, within the EU and nationally. Therefore, expertise in this complex legal field is requested, not least in connection with a sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity and in the field of climate and energy law. Environmental law experts are needed at ministries, at state and municipal authorities, in courts, within the EU Commission, and the UN Environmental Program, as well as in companies, law firms, environmental organisations, etc. A degree from the NOMPEL program should then be very competitive.

This degree is 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 the discipline. Having a degree in environmental law is also an important merit if you apply for another Master programme with environmental focus.

Admission requirements

Academic Requirements

A Bachelor of Law corresponding to at least three years of full-time study (180 ECTS credits). Alternatively, a university degree of at least 180 ECTS credits, comprising or in combination with at least 90 ECTS credits in legal studies.

Since this is a joint Master Programme, the degree must be approved by all participating universities according to the rules in each NOMPEL country.

Language Requirements

Knowledge of English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6 is required.

This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at universityadmissions.se.

Admission procedure

The Cooperation Agreement stipulates the admission procedure. 


 Students are selected based on

- an appraisal of previous university studies; and

- a letter of motivation (1 page), including information about previous education, work and other relevant experience.

Students will be admitted to the Programme at Uppsala University, which administers the admissions, in accordance with Swedish legislation and procedures adopted by Uppsala University, and the qualification requirements specified in the Programme Educational Plan. Uppsala University is responsible for managing any complaints submitted about decisions concerning the admission to the Programme.

For information on how to apply, what documents you need to submit, and the application fee, check the Uppsala University application guide. Besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit a statement of purpose (1 page). The statement of purpose should include information on previous education, work and other experience.

In accordance with local capacity and regulations, the number of students to be admitted each year to the Programme must be decided annually by the Parties, after consultation with the Steering Committee. The aim is to admit 25 students each year.

Students admitted to the Programme by Uppsala University are also registered at the University of Eastern Finland and at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, to gain study rights as a degree student and be able to access student services.

Student fees

Students from outside of EU and EEA countries and Switzerland will be subject to tuition and application fees, when studying at Uppsala University and the University of Eastern Finland. The application fee for students from outside the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland is SEK 900. Tuition fee for the first semester at Uppsala University is SEK 50,000. Tuition fees for the second semester set by the University of Eastern Finland, can be found on their websites.

All students are required to pay a semester fee to the Arctic Student Welfare Organisation for studies administered by UiT The Artic University of Norway. All Master’s degree students at the University of Eastern Finland are required to join the Student Union and must pay the student union membership fee for the semester they spend at that university. All students are furthermore required to pay a healthcare fee for the semester they spend at the University of Eastern Finland.

Uppsala University, the University of Eastern Finland and UiT The Arctic University of Norway determine the level of fees, in accordance with national and institutional regulations and procedures. The fees shall be collected by the Party in question, during the semester the student is studying at that University.

Students will be financially responsible for:

  • Travel to and from the institutions they are attending during the length of the Programme.
  • Books, stationery, etc.
  • Travel documentation, visas, etc.
  • Accommodation and living expenses.
  • Student association/general service charges (if applicable).
  • International insurance coverage relevant to their stay in a given country.

Problem solving and active student participation are the essential components of NOMPEL. Teaching methods include, inter alia, analyses of court cases and constructed hypothetical cases, and discussions related to student presentations.

NOMPEL teaching staff encourages critical thinking and independent study. Students are offered a wide range of teaching and learning activities as appropriate to the aims of the individual courses. These include (a) lectures followed by plenary discussion - sessions supported by written texts and presentations; (b) seminars organised as participative lectures or with student presentations; and (c) workshops and smaller seminar groups exploring the themes of the preceding presentations or addressing pre-given tasks, texts and questions. The writing of individual assignments represents an integrated part of the learning approach. Students are encouraged to use study groups as a resource for learning and debate. The use of learning approaches varies within individual modules and university traditions, but all participants are encouraged to develop a common course identity. Students are responsible for creating study groups, to consolidate shared interests and to pursue a more in-depth study of an issue.

Continuity and progression are assured by means of the design of the curriculum. The first semester lays the foundations and provides the basis for understanding approaches, perspectives and tools in international and EU environmental law and the law on energy transition. The second and third semester provide in-depth studies of (i) natural resources management and biodiversity law and (ii) climate change and energy law. The fourth semester enables students to consolidate and expand their understanding of the subjects covered in the Programme, by pursuing an independent research project linked to the subjects taught in the programme.

The institution responsible for each course determines the rules and processes concerning the assessment and grading of that course.

The student must have obtained 75 ECTS in NOMPEL courses in order to progress to the fourth semester.