Dr Melanie Murcott

Position, academic & professional qualifications

Melanie Murcott is a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria where she teaches administrative law and environmental law. She holds an LLB cum laude from the University of Cape Town, an LLM cum laude (Masters in Administrative Law and Constitutional Law) from the University of Pretoria, and an LLD (Doctor of Laws, Constitutional Law) from North-West University. Melanie is admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa, and as a solicitor of England and Wales (non-practising roll). Melanie’s doctoral thesis titled ‘Towards a Social Justice-Oriented Environmental Law Jurisprudence’ developed a legal theory of transformative environmental constitutionalism. Her research focuses on the potential of environmental law and administrative law to contribute towards South Africa’s project of transformative constitutionalism.


Academic & professional experience

Prior to working in academia Melanie practised law for a number of years as a commercial litigator, including at Hogan Lovells, where she was a partner. During her time in commercial legal practise Melanie taught various subjects part-time as a sessional lecturer at the Wits School of Law, including Constitutional Law, Law of Succession and Foundations of South African Law. 

Once she obtained her LLM at the University of Pretoria in 2014 (and whilst reading towards her doctorate), Melanie developed and introduced post-graduate programmes in Environmental Law at the University of Pretoria (an LLM and an MPhil, as well as a short course in Environmental Law offered through Enterprises). She continually introduces innovations into her teaching on environmental law both at post-graduate and undergraduate level, including through a tour of abandoned mines in the goldfields, film screenings, photograph exhibitions and collaborations with local and international scholars as well as local non-governmental organisations.

Melanie’s work in administrative law has been referred to in various judgments, including in the Constitutional Court cases of Minister of Defence and Military Veterans v Motau and Others 2014 (5) SA 69 (CC) and Pretorius and Another v Transport Pension Fund and Another [2018] 7 BLLR 633 (CC).

Melanie is an active member of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (IUCNAEL), having participated in, and presented her research at the IUCNAEL annual colloquia (attended by leading environmental law scholars from around the globe) since 2014.  Melanie is also a key researcher of the African Observatory of Humanities for the Environment, an international collaboration of scholars that aims to identify, explore and demonstrate the contributions that humanistic and artistic disciplines make to solving global social and environmental challenges. Locally Melanie is an Executive Committee member of the Environmental Law Association of South Africa (ELA), and organises and hosts ELA events, including conferences and film screenings for students and visitors.

In 2016 Melanie was a visiting scholar at Widener University Delaware Law as part of their esteemed Scholar-in-Residence programme on Global Environmental Constitutionalism. She was also awarded the prestigious scholarship of the Foundation Study Fund for South African Students (SSF), which is part of a greater organisation, the Zuid-Afrika Huis in Amsterdam, a private institution, that aims to maintain and promote the cultural and academic ties between the Netherlands and South Africa. The scholarship funded a four month visit to the Department of International and European Public Law at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands, where Melanie was granted a fellowship to pursue her doctoral research under the mentorship and guidance of a number of remarkable environmental law scholars.

In 2018, in collaboration with Dr Emily Barritt of the Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London, Melanie developed and taught a course on Climate Change, Justice and the Courts for the Law Schools Global League Summer School at the IE Law School, Segovia, Spain. In 2019, Melanie was a visiting lecturer as part of the Virtual Guest Speaker Programme of the Mercer University Law School in Georgia, United States of America. 

Teaching activities

Melanie is currently the course leader of Administrative Law (PBL310), a Third-year LLB compulsory module, and of Environmental Law (OMR410), a Final-year LLB elective module.  Melanie also coordinates the LLM and MPhil programmes in Environmental Law, and teaches the core module, Environmental Law (ENL802). She is the course leader and one of the presenters of the short course in Environmental Law administered by Enterprises

Representative publications

  • “The Procedural Right of Access to Information as a Means of Implementing Environmental Constitutionalism in South Africa” in E Daly and J May (eds) Implementing Environmental Constitutionalism: Current Global Challenges (2018).
  • “Introducing Transformative Environmental Constitutionalism” in E Daly et al (eds) New Frontiers in Environmental Constitutionalism (2017).
  • “Transformative Environmental Constitutionalism’s Response to the Setting Aside of South Africa’s Moratorium on Rhino Horn Trade” (2017) Humanities 6 84.
  • “The Ebb and Flow of the Application of the Principle of Subsidiarity - Critical Reflections on Motau and My Vote Counts” (2015) Constitutional Court Review 7 43.
  • “Chapter 6: Procedural Fairness” in G Quinot (ed) Administrative Justice in South Africa: An Introduction (2015).
  • “The role of environmental justice in socio-economic rights litigation” (2015) South African Law Journal 132(4) 875.
  • “A future for the doctrine of substantive legitimate expectation? Implications of Kwazulu-Natal Join Liaison Committee v MEC for Education, Kwazulu-Natal” (2015) Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal 18(1) 3133.
  • “The role of administrative law in enforcing socio-economic rights: revisiting Joseph” (2013) South African Journal on Human Rights 29(3) 481.
  • “Procedural fairness as a component of legality: is a reconciliation between Albutt and Masetlha possible?” (2013) South African Law Journal 130(2) 260.
  • Co-author of JQR Administrative Law from 2013.
  • Co-author of ASSAL Administrative Law 2013 and 2014.


Contact details

Tel: +27 12 420-3860

Fax: +27 12 420-2991

E-mail: [email protected]

Published by Elzet Hurter

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2021. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences