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Public Air Law


Admission requirements

Admission to the fulltime face-to-face advanced LL.M. programme in Air and Space Law.


This course aims to provide students with knowledge of the governance of international civil aviation, including the economic regulation of air services. It starts with a discussion of the constitution of international civil aviation, namely, the Chicago Convention of 1944, which is based on sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction, the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for promoting safety, security and the protection of the environment.

Next, attention will be paid to economic regulation as laid down in the forementioned Chicago Convention, ICAO resolutions and air services agreements concluded between States, and, in some cases, international organisations such as the EU. This will be followed by liberalization of air transport services, with special attention to European air law, including EU Regulation 1008/2008, and EU external relations. Other topics include slot allocation, airport charges and regional liberalisation in other parts of the world.

This course also addresses the regulatory regime pertaining to air traffic management, the investigation of accidents, and global market base measures (MBM) in relation to aviation emissions. More recent developments, such as the use of drones, cybersecurity, the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU (GDPR) and the closure of airspace following public measures are also covered.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Define the fundamental principles of public international air law.

  • Explain the rules and their applicability for liability as addressed under pubic air law.

  • Identify the legal issues pertaining to public air law matters and the most important case law and come with analyses and possible ways of addressing these issues.

  • Apply public air law instruments and case law at the international and EU level.

  • Solve practical case studies.

  • Undertake an individual research project in the area of public air law.


Students can view the timetable in Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

This course has been divided in a number of modules that cover a certain theme. Each module provides students with theoretical knowledge through reading materials and knowledge clips, and other suggested sources. Students are ultimately responsible for coming to classes prepared, which will elevate the classroom session.

The lecturers make extensive use of interactive teaching, thus encouraging the students to exercise their comprehension and understanding and their verbal techniques. The level of interaction is high, and students are encouraged to reflect critically on the issues presented. Guest lecturers and practitioners are invited to highlight specific topics and themes from various perspectives.

Attendance at all lectures and excursions is mandatory: any absence must always be reported to the Programme Coordinator.

Assessment method

This course is assessed by means of a written exam (60%) and ICAO Simulation (group assignment), cosisting of two position papers (40%), and a Diplomatic Conference activity (active participation; pass/fail)

Only one retake may be granted to a student per course. No retake will be granted to a student who has obtained a weighted average grade for the course of 6.0 or higher, cf Article 12.2 Course and Examination Regulations. No retake will be allowed if a student has not taken the scheduled exam, or any other scheduled form of assessment, and handed in written proof of a conscientious effort to meet the deadline. This is without prejudice to justified reasons of health, family or any other force majeure that could prevent the student from attending class or from participating in the assessment, cf. Article 12.3. The grade obtained in the retake assessment will replace the grade of the failed assessment and will be included in the weighting of the grade for the course.

Assessment components for which only a pass or fail can be obtained, must be successfully completed by the student to pass the course. If a student fails an assessment component that is part of an activity that cannot be retaken, the form of the retake will be up to the discretion of the relevant lecturer, cf. Article 12.1.

Reading list

Introduction to Air Law by prof. Mendes de Leon (2017), articles and suggested reading materials.


Students will be registered automatically for the course in uSis and Brightspace.


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


Disclaimer: This course has been updated to the best of our knowledge at the current time of publishing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fluctuating changes in lockdown regulations, all information contained within this course description is subject to change up to 1 September 2020.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 after 1 September 2020, changes to the course description can only be made in the event of strict necessity and only in the circumstances where they do not impinge the interests of the students. Should there be a need for any change during the duration of the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis and will not be to the prejudice of students. Modifications after 1 September 2020 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board.