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Space law and policy


Course objectives
This course aims to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the myriad legal and policy issues involved in space activities, including a review of the UN treaties, principles and regulations, and private international and national space laws and policies. Activities such as remote sensing, telecommunications and launching activities will be discussed. Other topics include the legal status of space objects and astronauts, military uses, use of nuclear power sources, international/regional cooperation in space, space stations, responsibility and liability, dispute settlement, private commercial use of space, including the use of space resources, small satellites and suborbital flights, space insurance, intellectual property rights, environmental issues and more. Though the educational approach is a classic classroom one, due to the high (postgraduate) level of the students and the limited size of the classes the level of interaction is very high. Students are actively encouraged to reflect critically on the theoretical issues presented. Guest lecturers are invited to highlight specific topics and themes.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students:

  • have thorough knowledge and understanding of the key issues of space law and policy;

  • can explain the regulation of the various space law & policy topics at the (inter)national and European level;

  • can apply the rules to cases;

  • can solve practical case studies;

  • are to undertake an individual research project in the area of space law & policy.

International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL)
Law School, Leiden University
Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden, Netherlands
Postal address: P.O. Box 9520, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands
Phone : +31 71 527 8081

Methods of instruction
Lectures: This course consists of approximately 40 lectures
Required preparation: Students are required to read the applicable chapters from the reader.

The lecturers make extensive use of interactive teaching, thus encouraging the students to exercise their comprehension and understanding and their verbal techniques. The course practical requires students to research and prepare presentations. This encourages them to make extensive use of the libraries of Leiden University and other law libraries as well as online research tools.

Course materials
Reader and handouts


  • For face-to-face students, the course is assessed by means of an oral presentation (20%), a written paper (20%) and a written open book exam (60%).

  • Blended learning students will follow the first two weeks of the course and will then work on assignments to be submitted via internet, which count for 80% towards the final grade. During the May session blended learning students are required to give a presentation on a space law topic, which counts for 20% towards the final grade No exam is required if a weighted average of 6 is obtained.

Course requirements
Master degree in law