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What will I learn?

The research programme Law on Energy and Sustainability (LES) focuses on energy law and sustainability law as two separate research themes that also come together to address the legal dimension of the process of energy transition in which climate considerations plays an important role. The programme thus brings together research within the Faculty of Law of two legal disciplines, which jointly are relevant for this important societal challenge. LES involves researchers from a broad range of legal disciplines and includes both international, European and national levels, as well as the interplay between them. The programme cooperates with non-legal disciplines to address related social, economic and technical aspects of the transition towards a sustainable society.

Research focus

The LES research programme has three goals. First, it aims at establishing how law can ensure a secure, clean and affordable energy supply, that addresses the societal need to engage in sustainable, fair, low-carbon and competitive energy production, consumption and supply.

Energy law

Energy law research involves the entire energy sector, ’from well head to burner tip. It includes all legislation and regulation applying to the production, transmission and supply of energy. The governance of the energy chain has been subject to important changes over the last decades due to market liberalization and concerns as regards to supply security and climate change.

Sustainability law

Sustainability law is closely related to environmental law, climate law and the concept of sustainable development that rests on the same three pillars as mentioned above: an environmental, an economic and a social pillar. Sustainability law has emerged as a key concept through which societal challenges are addressed in policy-making, regulation and governance at the international, European, national, and local level.

Energy transition

Energy law and sustainability law meet in the process of energy transition, which is the research programme’s main focal point and therefore an important core theme. Global warming is regarded as one of the most important challenges facing humankind and has led to the recognition that an energy transition is inevitable.

Research objectives

The prime objective with the LES research programme is to contribute to the ongoing societal challenges in investigating both energy law and sustainability law as separate research focus areas as well as the legal dimension of the energy transition.

The second objective is to engage in interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary projects that are of scientific relevance, have a high societal impact and are commissioned by or undertaken in collaboration with societal partners.

As a third objective the programme aims to strengthen the link between research and academic teaching, inter alia in the Master programmes ‘Energy and Climate Law’ and the North Sea Energy Law Programme (joint degree with the universities of Aberdeen, Copenhagen and Oslo), as well as other Master programmes in the field of public (international) law and European Union law in Groningen.

Programme ambitions

The ambitions of the programme are threefold: 1) to continue and expand the research reputation of the faculty in the field of both energy law and sustainability law as well as the law governing the energy transition, including climate law; 2) to attract external funding in these fields; 3) to enlarge the group of researchers engaged in this research programme.

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Law

Study options

Full Time (3 - 4 years)

Tuition fees
Information not available
Start date

Expected August, September 2022


University of Groningen

Broerstraat 5,


9712 CP, Netherlands

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants must have Research Master degree or equivalent. Applicants with other research master degrees will be considered if sufficiently related to the research programme; Fluent in English (written and spoken).

For international students

Possession of a Master’s degree or equivalent in a discipline that is directly or closely related to the discipline in which the PhD research will take place. The degree must have been gained within a reasonable period of time and with marks that justify the expectation that you will be able to complete the PhD programme.

The minimum criteria that are required for IELTS or TOEFL are:

IELTS: a score of > 7.0, all section scores should at least be 6.5 plus a writing score of at least 7.0

TOEFL: a score of > 100, all section scores should at least be 23 plus a writing score of at least 25

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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