Tell us a bit about your background please…
My name is Xin. I am from China and I completed my undergraduate studies in China.
What inspired you to further your studies (beyond undergraduate level)?
Compared to the undergraduate degree, postgraduate study tends to be more focused. I only studied general law in my undergraduate degree. I am very interested in environmental law and wanted to use it as a foundation to continue my studies.
In addition, according to BBC reports, the UK is the third largest place to study in the world and is a good fit for postgraduate study.
Why did you choose to study for the LLM Global Environmental Law & Governance?
Environmental issues may be the largest problem facing humanity today. More and more environmental issues are happening all over the world, such as the extreme cold of the United States in 2018 and the high temperatures of over 40 degrees in Australia and the severe drought in India. Environmental governance tends to be a global issue that cannot be solved by the power of only one country or even a few countries. How to legally and reasonably make legal provisions and solve environmental problems is where I see my interest developing.
In addition, according to UNHCR, China is the most polluted country in the world. I am from the most polluted place in China, so I deeply understand the pain caused by pollution. How to legally solve environmental problems, how to balance the environment and human problems are all topics that capture my interest.
According to What Uni's ranking, Strathclyde's Global Environmental Law and Governance ranks third of its kind in the UK. I really like the academic environment and research that is currently happening here.
What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde/highlight of the course so far?
My time has been focused on the curriculum. In addition to studying International Environmental Law, our compulsory class, there are many other related courses that you can choose. I have chosen to study International Climate Change Law, Oceans Governance & the Law of the Sea, Global Environmental Law amongst others.
Within each elective course you can dive into a lot of different chapters, such as animal law, international environmental law with global trade issue, outer space law, and so on. I consider this the highlight of my course.
In addition to the time spent in class, I choose to spend the rest of my time focusing on group work. This includes mock debates, presentations, case studies and group discussions.
Have you come across any challenges during your studies, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me is the language used in law, which is entirely different from English and Chinese, and they have altogether different language systems and language histories. I need to spend a lot of time to understand the words, to understand the cases in environmental law, to listen carefully to the teacher in class. On the other hand, because I have weak hearing, I need to carry a hearing aid in the classroom. But fortunately, our courses are tiny groups. In the class, the students listened carefully to my thoughts. When the teacher knew that I needed a little support so that I could better hear, he would amplify his voice and slow down on the speed of conversation. Professors often stop for questions after each section, this is really useful. Professor Antonia suggested some courses that are available within the school, to allow me to strengthen my language skills.
Another challenge is that environmental law cuts across other disciplines. An example of this is environmental law and engineering, I need to read some engineering content while preparing the material for environmental law, which increases the difficulty of study. But because we have engineering students in some of our classes, they support by sharing their opinions with us. At the same time, they will also take the initiative to ask us any points that they may not understand.
What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
First of all, International Environmental Law is a comprehensive legal discipline, and there is a great deal of knowledge in different fields. Therefore, completing the necessary reading before class tends to be very important. Professors often upload their slides to MyPlace three to five days in advance. I would advise that you take this opportunity to read up on content before it is presented to you. From here, you can create a list of questions and take these in to the class to clarify with your teacher.
One of the aspects of the course that I really enjoy is that my classmates are from all corners of the world. Strathclyde is an international school, and we have classmates from Ecuador, Belgium, France, Holland as well as local British students. From an environmental perspective, the laws of each country are also different. Understanding the environmental laws of each state is also a learning process. Also, as each of my fellow classmates have come from different backgrounds, they will have different opinions, which is another excellent opportunity to learn.
Finally, some thoughts for students who are from non-English-speaking countries. The teachers and classmates are outstanding. Any ideas and opinions should be expressed as much as possible. If you don't know how to translate exactly what you are thinking, try to introduce your thoughts with just one sentence. They are all good listeners.
What do you think of the support available?
What I want to say is that the school has a lot of support and the team are very efficient. Like the school, the university has an international student support team for international students. The Law School also has a team on hand that can help with any queries on your studies and general student life.
On a personal level supervisors and tutors are there to support. They will provide you with academic help, this goes beyond the current knowledge in the classroom and answering any questions, but also sharing the latest newest academic knowledge in their field. They also keep you up-to-date on what research they are working on, this is such a big help.
What are your ambitions for the future?
After completing the postgraduate course, if I can find a school to do a PhD, I will continue to study environmental law. Environmental law is an exciting field that requires more time to explore. One year is simply not enough to satisfy my appetite in this area. I want to dedicated more time to research.