nl en

European and Commercial Perspectives of Space Law


Admission requirements

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


The course aims to provide students with knowledge of the various commercial space applications and issues surrounding the regulation of commercial and ‘NewSpace’ activities, which are not clearly addressed in international space law. Some of the topics discussed are space resource utilization, satellite constellations, Earth Observation, human spaceflight and innovative applications of space technology. The associated legal issues are examined from the perspective of international, regional and national laws, as well as through practitioners’ and industrial practice, illustrated by examples and case studies. Contemporary developments, such as privacy and cybersecurity in space activities are also discussed.

The course focuses on steps undertaken by the United Nations and the international community to address these gaps, while several national space laws are analysed. The course also adresses topics of special relevance for Europe, such as the role and activities of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU), and the European programs for satellite navigation and Earth Observation, Galileo and Copernicus.

Course objectives

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

  • Give examples of commercial and ‘NewSpace’ activities and indicate the legal issues they raise.

  • Describe the efforts undertaken on national and international level to solve the issues raised by those activities.

  • List the main features of national space legislation and at the European level.

  • Explain the roles of ESA and the EU, and Europe’s role the space sector.

  • Apply the relevant space laws and policies and solve practical case studies.

  • Undertake an individual research project in the field of space 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 an oral presentation (50%) and a written paper (50%).

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.

Reading list

Introduction to Space Law, T. Masson-Zwaan and M. Hofmann, Kluwer 2019 and handouts.


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.