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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage are seen by some governments as key contributors alongside renewable energy to the decarbonisation of energy supplies.  However, significant risks of harm to the environment and human health and challenges with securing investment and overcoming public concerns are associated with the use of both technologies.  The seven seminar course examines legal responses to these risks and challenges at international, European Union and national levels, critically considering their adequacy for tackling the difficulties with employing nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage as part of a low carbon energy transition.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor John Paterson

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Law (LS) (Studied) or MSc Energy Politics and Law
  • Any Postgraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • Master of Laws in International Law and Strategic Studies (Studied)
  • Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (Studied)
  • Master of Laws in International Law and International Relations (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Nuclear energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (a technology for capturing carbon emitted by power stations/industries and storing it permanently underground) are both seen by the UK Government as key contributors to a low carbon energy transition. However, the wisdom of relying on both technologies to decarbonise energy supplies has been questioned because of: risks presented by them of harm to human health and the environment; the enormous expense of developing nuclear and CCS-ready power plants and related infrastructure; consequent difficulties with securing investment in related developments; and public concerns over their use. The course examines the legal frameworks that have been developed by states in international law, by the European Union, and by UK Governments to: regulate risks associated with nuclear and CCS; to create investor confidence in these technologies; and to address public fears. It critically considers their adequacy for tackling the significant difficulties with employing nuclear energy and CCS as key aspects of a low carbon energy transition. It concludes by exploring two further legal challenges with storing carbon underground: ensuring that it will be possible to transport carbon to storage sites; and the potential for a novel permanent use of underground cavities to conflict with long-established systems for allocating property rights and for governing uses of the marine environment.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st attempt: One three hour exam (75%) and a 2500 word assessed essay (25%). Resit: One three hour exam (100%). It is not possible to resit the assessed essay.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


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