England.  Change location

International, environmental and space law

The module focuses on the institutions and governance of international, environmental and space law, and explores issues of fairness, justice, voice and the challenges that arise from the changing nature of international governance. You'll develop your understanding of the transition of international law into global governance. You'll study humanity’s impact on the global and outer space environment, and the governance mechanisms designed to manage that impact. You'll also learn about what the law means for you individually and for the societies in which we live, as well as recognise where international law and policy is failing to protect the vulnerable or to enable social justice, equality, and equity in the global society.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code
W260
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
30
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

In this module you'll explore the institutions of global governance, using environmental governance and the governance of outer space as topics of exploration. You'll examines these institutions and the regime through the context of justice and fairness particularly with regards to the Global South. You'll learn how to prepare an environmental case study and how to read and prepare policy briefs and policy papers.

You'll also explore environmental law, the challenges of climate change, the issues of climate injustice, and the possible remedies to it. This will include learning about planetary protection, the diversifying nature of space activities and those conducting them (as well as the need to diversify the space industry workforce) and the issues relating to resource use in the global commons (including outer space).

The module is divided into the following nine units and they all highlight the issues of participation, fairness, and justice in the global order:

Unit 1
You'll learn about the foundations of the international system, the sources of international law, and the key actors.

Unit 2
The focus is on the Global North-South divide, beginning with the impact of colonialism and the acquisition of territory by European powers. It will highlight the inequalities of the international system and the challenges that face the Global South.

Unit 3
You'll focus on international governance through treaties exploring the governance of climate change from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to the Paris Climate change conference and beyond.

Unit 4
You'll explore the place of international courts in the international system and the change that they have brought to the way that the international system is governed. The unit will use transboundary pollution, rights of nature, and human rights litigation to explore the global governance through international courts.

Unit 5
In this unit you're introduced to nature-based solutions to the climate emergency, and you'll learn about the proposed amendment to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, adding Ecocide as a new international crime. You'll also learn how to produce an environmental case study in the form of a script for a podcast.

Unit 6
You'll be introduced to the core concepts of the governance of outer space, from the Outer Space Treaty to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and more.

Unit 7
You'll look more specifically at the issues of planetary protection and nascent environmental issues such as space debris, examining the connections with terrestrial environmental issues and governance.

Unit 8
You'll examine the diversity of space actors (or lack of) – in the sense of the organisations, companies, and states engaged in space activities – and the people who comprise those entities.

Unit 9
You'll explore the governance of resource utilisation in the global commons, which includes outer space.
 

Vocational relevance

If you are intending to study this module as part of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and hope to enter the legal professions, you should read our Careers in Law information. There are different entry requirements into the legal professions in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is your responsibility to ensure you meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They will help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • providing individual guidance, whether that is for general study skills or specific module content.
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

Assessment

The assessment for this module will be by two tutor-marked assignments, one interactive computer marked assignment and one end-of-module assessment. 

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

International, environmental and space law starts once a year – in February. This page describes the module that will start in February 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2030.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    If you are new to study at university level, or are returning after some time, we recommend that you first study an OU level 1 law module such as Criminal law and the courts (W111) or Civil justice and tort law (W112), unless you are a graduate entry student.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    You might find the following resources are useful preparation for this module:

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    04 Feb 2023 Jul 2023 £1614.00

    Registration closes 12/01/23 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2030.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 27/11/2022.

    Can you study an Access module for free?

    In order to qualify you must:

    1. be resident in England
    2. have a personal income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
    3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

    How to apply to study an Access module for free

    Once you've started the registration process , either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible.

    If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069 or you can request a call back.

    Not eligible to study for free?

    Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

    • monthly payments through OUSBA
    • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

    To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

    What's included

    You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access and tutor support.

    You will need

    You will have the option to record an oral presentation as part of your assessed work on this module. We strongly recommend that you use a headset with a microphone, as using an external or integrated microphone and speakers could result in a poor quality recording.

    Computing requirements

    You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

    Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

    It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W260 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.