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The Rovira i Virgili University was created by Law 36/1991 (published in the DOGC on 15th January 1992 and in the BOE on 20th February 1992) passed by the Catalan parliament on 30th December 1991, incorporating existing university studies that depended on the University of Barcelona and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). Law 36/1991 also envisaged the creation of a new Faculty, the Faculty of Legal Sciences, which incorporated the then Escuela de Graduados Sociales.

The Management Committee of the Faculty, appointed by the Management Committee of the University on 9th April 1992, designed the curriculum of the Law Degree and drafted the Faculty's memorandum, which was passed by the URV on 16th July 1992.

One of the specific points of the first curriculum of studies leading to the Degree in Law at the URV (URV resolution of 23rd March 1993; BOE of 29th April 1993) was the introduction of Environmental Law, from a multidisciplinary perspective, as a compulsory subject in second-cycle studies and of Development of Environmental Law as an optional subject.

Technical and scientific disciplines were offering a wide range of environment-related courses but university studies in Environmental Law were practically non-existent apart from a few isolated postgraduate courses. When the URV began offering studies in Environmental Law, neither the Catalan nor the Spanish public university system had, or anticipated having, a suitable response to the strategic importance of environmental issues in the field of Law.

The decision to give URV Law studies an environmental profile was justified not only because of the increasing importance of the environment in society but also because of the special circumstances of our area of influence: its links to the Mediterranean, the importance of the chemical and petrochemical industries in our area, the presence of nuclear power stations and port installations, the problems of how to treat and eliminate residuals, the potential development of wind energy, and the increasing expansion of the tourist sector.

This decision was bolstered in 2002 by the new curriculum of studies leading to the Degree in Law (which incorporated a full range of specialisation in Environmental Law), the creation, as a URV second-cycle course, of the Higher Certificate in Environmental Law, and the establishment of a Master's in Environmental Law.

Since 2006, the Master in Environmental Law becomes a formal education in accordance with the Royal Decrees 55/2005 and 56/2005 of 21 January, subsequently repealed by Royal Decree 1393/2007 of 29 October which is set by the management of official university studies. Thus, the Master in Environmental Law URV is the first and only official university master classes offered in Catalonia.

Range of courses

In 2002 the range of Environmental Law courses offered at the URV increased significantly as a result of the simultaneous activation of three levels of training: a specialised course as part of the Degree in Law; a second-cycle URV course leading to the Higher Certificate in Environmental Law; and the URV Master's in Environmental Law. The Higher Certificate in Environmental Law was modified in 2005 as part of the process of adaptation to the European Higher Education Area.

Certificate in Environmental Law (60 credits): this Certificate accompanies the URV Degree in Law and is mainly intended for URV Law students.

Higher Certificate in Environmental Law: this Higher Certificate is mainly intended for URV Law students, who must obtain 60 credits on top of the 60 credits they have already obtained for the specialist certificate that is part of their Degree, or for other Law graduates (120 credits).

Postgraduate training (URV Master's) and other continuous training programmes: these programmes are intended for legal or technical experts in the environmental field. The contents of the courses depend on the professional or educational background of the participants.

Professional opportunities

The environment is an emerging sector that increasingly requires professionals trained in the discipline to advise or defend companies or individuals on environmental matters or to join public or private administrations charged with defending or restoring the environment.

In the business world, the environment is gaining in importance. Environmental law is now a sine qua non for regulating the inception of many activities. Environmental law specialists study the needs of their clients or companies as they attempt to comply with the requirements established by the administration and prevent problems from occurring once the activity is under way. Their work involves matters such as:

This multidisciplinary development comprises sectors such as: urban and dangerous waste management; polluted soils; the water sector including interior, exterior and coastal waters, pollution caused by dumping, administrative procedures, concessions and authorisations; urban development, atmospheric pollution, noise pollution, odours; flora, fauna, game, fishing, and livestock, etc.

Also involved are administrative matters such as integrated environmental authorisations and the evaluation, assessment and appraisal of the environment (ecoaudits and environmental management systems).

In addition, politicians are attaching increasing importance to the protection and restoration of the environment. The European Union is also promoting policies to protect the environment. In public administration, therefore, there are many opportunities for Environmental Law specialists in national and regional departments and local corporations.