Specialize in maritime law or environmental law... or both!

A global centre of excellence for research, education and outreach in oceans and environment law and policy, the Marine & Environmental Law Institute, and the Marine & Environmental Law Program (MELP) offer some of the world's most extensive course offerings in marine and environmental law taught by faculty whose leading-edge research and scholarship are widely cited internationally.

Marine & Environmental Law Program (MELP)

JD MELP certificate program

With 17 full and part-time faculty members currently teaching in the program, students have a unique opportunity to learn about public and private law practice in marine (including shipping) and environmental law taught from domestic and international perspectives. Students wishing to specialize in these fields have the option of obtaining a certificate of specialization in either Marine Law or Environmental Law or both, while completing the three-year JD degree.

Specialization course & program requirements

JD students may specialize in Marine Law and/or Environmental Law and the specialization will be recognized on their transcript.

  • It is the students' responsibility to ensure that they complete all the requirements of the specialization they enroll in.
  • Students wishing to complete the requirements of both certificates are not permitted to count a course towards more than one certificate.
  • All classes counted toward satisfaction of the Marine Law or Environmental Law certificate must be completed with no grade below C and a weighted average grade of B (70).
  • Students are not permitted to count a course towards more than one certificate within the Law School.
  • If a student is participating in an exchange program, s/he can request that one course from that exchange be credited towards the specialization. The course, if approved, can serve as one of the electives in the specialization; it cannot replace a required course in the specialization. The course cannot duplicate a course that the student has taken at the Schulich School of Law. If the course is approved, the student will not be subsequently permitted to receive credit for a course at Schulich which, in the opinion of the Director, has undue overlap with the course taken on exchange. The burden is on the student to demonstrate that the substance and quality of the course fits within the parameters of the specialization, for example, by providing the course description, syllabus, etc. The student must have the course approved by the Director of the specialization prior to taking the course. The Director of the specialization has the final authority to approve the request.

Marine Law Specialization

Required classes

Elective classes

Environmental Law Specialization

Required classes

Elective classes

For more information on these courses, please check out the Dalhousie Academic Calendar

Relevant courses

Students may apply to the MELP Director to have a paper, that will be written in another relevant course, approved for the purpose of one of the electives in a MELP certificate.  

Examples of some of the classes that would be considered relevant are:

Note: not all electives are offered each year

How to register for the MELP certificate

We encourage you to submit the MELP Certificate registration form early in the year to ensure you are added to our email list. The email list is used throughout the year to send information on upcoming lectures, events, summer jobs, internships and opportunities related to marine and environmental fields.

Either complete the form electronically or print on letter size paper and submit a hard copy. When completed, forms can be returned to room 413 or by email

Environmental Law Placement

This placement provides students with the opportunity to work with environmental law practitioners in Halifax during the winter term. Students can do their work placement with East Coast Environmental Law Association (ECEL) or with another suitable host organization, including government, non-governmental organizations or with in-house council in the private sector.  This placement is open to three (or perhaps four if a suitable placement is available) students per academic year.

If you are interested in the Environmental Law Placement, please send a copy of your transcripts along with a letter of interest to by October 1st for placement in the Winter term. For more information see below or contact the MELAW Associate Director.

LAWS 2225.03   Environmental Law Placement

This placement provides students with the opportunity to work with environmental law practitioners in Halifax during the winter term. Students will take part in the work of their host organization assisting with research and other tasks as requested, on a specific pre-selected project. Students will be required to spend nine hours a week on placement work. Placement can either be directly with the East Coast Environmental Law Association, or, on request, with another suitable host organization, including with government, with non-governmental organizations or with in-house council in the private sector. Students will be evaluated on the basis of performance in the placement including assessment of memoranda written for the placement supervisor as well as the major paper to be written on a related topic. Student will be assigned a project that is suitable as a major paper topic and are encouraged to write a major paper that is closely related to the placement project. Evaluation will be conducted by the course supervisor. The placement supervisor will be consulted with respect to the student's performance in the placement as appropriate. This course fulfils the major paper requirement. Students will be selected by the faculty supervisor of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute in consultation with ECEL on the basis of academic standing and demonstrated interest in the field of environmental law and policy. Only students who have taken Environmental Law I before the start of the placement will be considered. Interested students should apply in writing to the Marine & Environmental Law Institute at by October 1st of the academic year in which they wish to participate in the placement program. Applications shall consist of a written statement confirming the student's experience and/or interest in environmental law, and a copy of law school grades to date. Enrollment: Limited to 3 students

NOTES: Course Supervisor: Executive Director, East Coast Environmental Law Association

PREREQUISITES: Environmental Law I

ASSESSMENT METHOD: Major Paper 60%; Placement feedback 40%

Exchange opportunities

Study abroad in 2nd or 3rd year

There are a number of opportunities for our JD students to study abroad during one of the terms in second or third year. We have exchange programs with universities around the world. For more information, visit the Schulich School of Law International Exchanges page.

Here are a few institutions that may be of particular interest to marine and environmental law students, as these Universities have strong programs in this area:

New Zealand

(Victoria University of Wellington)


(Queensland University of Technology)


(National University)

Mooting opportunities

LAWS 2250:
 Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot (3 credits)

LAWS 2250 - Canada's first and only national moot court competition devoted to environmental law. This moot is held biennially

The competition takes the form of an appeal before a Canadian court of last resort. Each team files a factum for one party. At the oral hearing, teams argue one side of the appeal in their first match and the other side in their second.

This moot is open to 2nd and 3rd year students in recognition of the fact that this moot is offered biennially. The moot counts as a major paper course.  Academic credit is given at the end of the winter term.

Learn more about this opportunity.

How to apply

Students interested in being considered for this moot are requested to write a letter (hardcopy or email) addressed to Associate Director by second last Monday in March, indicating:

  • year of studies (second or third year);
  • statement of interest and commitment to doing the moot during the fall and winter terms;
  • completion or enrolment in Environmental Law I (NB: this is a pre/co-requisite);
  • whether there is intention to complete the environmental law certificate; and
  • mooting and debating experience (including summary of academic feedback received).

The letter should be accompanied by a short cv and law school transcript. An interview may also be required. The selection committee will be composed of the coach and MELP faculty. Applicants will be informed of the selection by 31 March.



Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot
March 7, 2015

Professor Aldo Chircop (coach); students, Aaron Lemkow and Kristen Vandenberg (Distinguished Oralist)



Graduate programs

LLM program

The Master's degree allows students to pursue research in marine and environmental law by course work and thesis, or by coursework alone. The LLM program ordinarily takes a year of full-time study but it may also be completed on a part-time basis.

PhD program

The primary requirement for the Doctoral degree, aside from one year of residency, is the completion of a substantial dissertation in marine or environmental law. Opportunities for teaching and research may also be available.

Learn more about graduate admissions and scholarships at the Schulich School of Law.