Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Environmental Crime and Biodiversity

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Criminology

DESCRIPTION Environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem, and one which takes many different forms. It is not limited to criminals polluting the air, water and land and pushing commercially valuable wildlife species closer to extinction; it can also include crimes which speed up climate change, destroy fish stocks, annihilate forests and exhaust essential natural resources. This study unit comprises primarily an introduction to environmental protection from the aspect of policy making, law making and the participation of stakeholders on a national (micro) and an EU (macro) setting. These crimes can have a harmful impact on the economies and security of multiple nations, in some cases they may even threaten the very existence of a country or people.

Study-unit Aims:

1. Presenting an overview of the Maltese and EU legislation regarding the protection of the environment;
2. Discussion of the problems of law enforcement and of prosecuting environmental crime;
3. Understanding the different legal definitions that exist and what the EU is proposing in order to approximate the differences between its Member States.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Appreciate the distinction of environmental damage as a concept which is separate from criminal damage;
2. Recognise and understand the difficulties involved in protecting the environment through national and EU legislation;
3. Familiarise oneself with online access to EU and national environmental legislation sources;
4. Discuss and analyse environmental issues within a group setting.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Understand the challenges of enforcing environmental criminal law.
2. Discuss how these challenges can be addressed.
3. Understand the challenges faced in carrying out environmental crime investigations.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:
(Books are available at the Institute's library.)

More reading material, consisting of journal papers/ articles, will be given on a weekly basis. Furthermore, copies of chapters will be provided during the course from these publications (which are expensive to purchase):
- Clifford, M. (2002) Environmental crime. Enforcement, policy, and social responsibility. Maryland, US: Aspen Publishers Inc.
- Drielak, S.C. (2005) Environmental crime. Evidence gathering and investigative techniques. Springfield, Ill. (US): Charles C. Thomas Publisher Ltd.
- Gillies, D. (2000) A guide to EC Environmental Law. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
- Situ, Y., and Emmons, D. (2000) Environmental crime. The criminal justice system's role in protecting the environment. New York: Sage.
- White, R. (2008) Crimes against nature - Environmental criminology and ecological justice. New York: Willan Publishing.

- EU Commission Environment Page:
- EU Commission Justice page (check environmental crime):
- Interpol Environmental Crime page:
- International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
- European Environment Agency (EEA):
- Malta Environment and Planning Authority:


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Raphael Axiak
Ian Borg
Saviour Formosa

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.