Clare College Cambridge

Land Economy

Environment, Law & Economics

Link to University Subject Page


Land Economy is the study of the use, development and management of land, other natural resources and the built environment. Drawing upon theories and concepts from economics, law and quantitative methods, the student analyses how the private sector allocates resources, what implications this has for society and why and how governments seek to alter private processes. Though the analysis concentrates upon economically advanced countries, the experience of selected low income countries is also covered.

The Land Economy course encourages students to develop an understanding of complex legal, economic, political and administrative questions, including issues surrounding environmental protection and climate change. For example, how can legal rules assist in the protection of the environment, how can the efficiency and profitability of industries dealing with land, natural resources and buildings be improved? How should private development objectives be balanced against the need to conserve social assets or protect endangered assets? Can the divisive effects of uneven economic development (whether within the nation, region or city) be ameliorated? In poor countries, what should governments do in the face of the explosive growth of urban areas and rural depopulation? The development of an analytical capacity to tackle complex questions such as these provides a stimulating education both for students who take Land Economy courses for all nine terms, and also those who mix some Land Economy courses with those of another Tripos. Moreover, the explicit emphasis in coursework upon the interactions of the private and public sectors fits students of Land Economy, after graduation, to enter either of these sectors.

Undergraduates may read Land Economy for one, two or three years. The coursework progresses from basic principles (particularly those drawn from economics and law) in the first year, to more advanced analysis and vocational applications in the second and third years. In their first year (Part IA) all students take introductory courses in economics, public law, accounting and data evaluation, as well as a topics course on land, environment and structural change in the United Kingdom. In the second year, those who have completed the Land Economy IA Course must take an advanced economic theory paper, a law paper and three others from a range of six on offer. Others beginning Land Economy in the second year must take the accounting and data evaluation course (unless specifically exempted), a law paper, an advanced economic theory paper and two others.

In the third year students have the maximum freedom to select those courses which most suit their interests, skills and professional objectives. Four papers and a dissertation have to be offered. The coursework is supplemented by field trips within the United Kingdom. Recent visits have included an examination of the role of a major shopping centre in a new town, the redevelopment of the London Docklands, the economics and management of public and private forests, and the effectiveness of the public inquiry system.

Land Economy can form an undergraduate preparation for the professions of lawyer, in the Civil Service or in urban and regional planning and chartered surveying, and is now recognised as a preeminent qualification for a career in environmental protection, business or management. The Land Economy Tripos gives partial exemption from the professional requirements of the Bar Council and Law Society (for intending barristers and solicitors) and is recongised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors under a special partnership agreement, which allows graduates to proceed directly to the Institution's assessment of professional competence to become fully qualified professional chartered surveyors.

More information on the course is available on the Land Economy www site.

Admissions Requirements

There are no specific requirements on subjects studied at A-level for Land Economy candidates. A typical offer would be A*AA at A-level or 7,7,6 (40+ overall) in the IB, or the equivalent from other educational systems.

Written Assessment

All applicants who are selected for interview are required to take the university-wide at-interview written assessment for Land Economy. Further information about this is available here.


Applicants who are selected for interview will be interviewed in the second or third week of December. At Clare the normal interview procedure consists of two interviews both of which are academic-based, though one will also include a more general element.

Fellows in Land Economy

Prof Jorge Viñuales Director of Studies, Harold Samuel Professor of Law and Environmental Policy
Prof Philip Allmendinger  Professor of Land Economy
Prof David Howarth Professor of Private Law

Reading Lists

Click here for a list of recommended books.