Marine & Environmental Law Program (MELP)

Since its establishment in 1974 as an area of specialization, the Marine & Environmental Law Program (MELP) has provided JD students with one of the most extensive academic course offerings in these two fields in the world. While the certificates are not available to graduate students (LLM and PhD), the course offerings are.

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

Marine Law


  • Law of the Sea
  • Maritime Law & Practice (Maritime Law I)


  • Coastal Zone Management
  • Fisheries Law
  • Law of International Trade and Shipping
  • Marine Environmental Protection Law
  • Ocean Law and Policy
  • Oil and Gas Law

Environmental Law


  • Environmental Law I
  • International Environmental Law


  • Business and Environmental Law
  • Coastal Zone Management
  • Energy Law
  • Climate Change Law and Policy
  • Environmental Law Placement
  • Fisheries Law
  • Marine Environmental Protection Law
  • Oil and Gas Law
  • Planning Law
  • Regulatory Systems in Environment and Health
  • Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot

Note: Not all electives are offered each year

To earn the certificate, students must take the two required courses plus two others from the list of electives. Students may apply to the MELP Director to have a paper, which will be written in another relevant course, approved for the purpose of one of the electives in a MELP certificate.

Examples of courses that would be considered relevant include:

  • Aboriginal Peoples and the Law
  • Animals and the Law
  • Health Care Ethics and the Law
  • Health Systems: Law and Policy
  • International Trade Law

MELP Specialization Certificates

JD students may specialize in marine law and/or environmental law and the specialization will be recognized on their academic transcript. Students wishing to complete the requirements of both certificates are not permitted to double count electives within the law school.

Marine Law Specialization

To specialize in Marine Law, a student must take: (a) Law of the Sea and Maritime Law & Practice; (b) two other elective courses from the following: Coastal Zone Management, Fisheries Law, Law of International Trade and Shipping, Marine Environmental Protection Law, Ocean Law and Policy, Oil and Gas Law or another major paper course, provided the topic of the paper is approved in writing, before it is written, by the Director of the Marine & Environmental Law Program.

Environmental Law Specialization

To specialize in Environmental Law, a student must take: (a) Environmental Law I and International Environmental Law; (b) two other elective courses from the following: Business and Environmental Law, Climate Change Law and Policy, Coastal Zone Management, Energy Law, Environmental Law Placement, Fisheries Law, Marine Environmental Protection Law, Oil and Gas Law, Planning Law, Regulatory Systems in Environment and Health, Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot or another major paper course, provided the topic of the paper is approved in writing, before it is written, by the Director of the Marine & Environmental Law Program.

General Requirements

All courses counting toward satisfaction of the marine law or environmental law specialization must be completed with no grade below C, and with a weighted average in those courses of at least B (e.g. 70).

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, research positions, summer jobs, internships and opportunities related to marine and environmental fields. Complete a MELP form and return it to the Marine & Environmental Law Institute Room 413 or email to 

It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that they complete all the requirements of the specialization they enrol in. Subject to the exception outlined in the next paragraph, only those courses pursued at the Schulich School of Law during the student’s JD studies which lead to successful completion of a Dalhousie University JD degree will be recognized. 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, that student 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 MELP 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 MELP Director prior to taking the course. The MELP Director has the final authority to approve the request.

On completion of all requirements, including registration for the certificate program, the specialization will be recognized on the students' academic transcript. Students will also receive a separate certificate on graduation attesting to the satisfactory completion of a marine and/or environmental specialization.