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Public Air Law


Admission requirements

Admission to the full time and parttime Blended Learning 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 economic regulation of air services. It starts with a discussion of the constitution of international civil aviation, the Chicago Convention of 1944, which is based on sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction, and the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for promoting safety, security and protection of the environment.

The course moves on to economic regulation as laid down in the Chicago Convention, ICAO Assembly Resolutions and Council Decisions, air services agreements concluded between sovereign States and, in some cases, international organisations such as the EU. This is followed by a review of steps taken to liberalise air transport services, with special attention paid to European air law, including Regulation (EC) 1008/2008, and EU external relations. Other topics include slot allocation, airport charges and market liberalisation and deregulation in other parts of the world.

This course also addresses the regulatory regimes pertaining to air traffic management, the investigation of accidents, and global market-based measures (MBMs) developed to address the challenge of aviation-related emissions. Other recent developments are also considered, such as the increased use of drones, new cybersecurity risks, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the closure by States of airspace.

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 public air law.

  • Analyse legal issues pertaining to public air law matters and the most important case law to propose possible ways of addressing such issues.

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

  • Solve practical case studies.

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


Students can view the timetable in Brightspace. Participation in the online classes is optional for Blended Leaners.

Mode of Instruction

This course has been divided into several different modules, each of which that covers a certain specific theme. Each module provides students with theoretical knowledge through assigned reading materials and multimedia knowledge clips, and other suggested sources. Students are ultimately responsible for coming to classes prepared, which will in turn provides for elevated levels of discussion in the classroom sessions.

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

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

Assessment method

This course is assessed by means of:

  • a Written Exam (60%); and

  • an ICAO Simulation (group assignment). This consists of two Position Papers (comprising 40%) and Participation in a Diplomatic Conference simulated activity (pass/fail based on active participation).

Blended learning students will work on four assignments and one final paper, to be submitted via Brightspace.

The course is successfully passed if an average grade for the course is obtained of 6.0 or higher. Assessment components for which only a pass or fail can be obtained, must be successfully completed by the student to pass the course. 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.

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.

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 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 2021.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 after 1 September 2021, 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 2021 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board.