LW6036 - The Law of Outer Space

What will I learn on this module?

This module will provide you with a detailed understanding of the way in which space exploration is governed on a national and international level. The module will examine the governance of traditional space activity: the development of satellite communications, military activity in space, the use of interplanetary probes to gain scientific data and also human spaceflight. You will also evaluate legal responses to the challenges posed by new developments such as space tourism, space mining and the increased environmental strain on the space environment.

The issues that will be explored include:

• Introducing International Space Law; The Outer Space Treaty & follow up treaties
• Astropolitics, International Relations and Policy in Space
• The Institutions of Space Administration
• Environmental Space Law
• The Moon and Other Celestial Bodies
• Planetary Protection
• Astronauts and Space Travellers and Tourism
• Space Mining
• National Space Legislation
• Military Space Activity
You will be encouraged to immerse yourself in the space environment and formative assessment will be by means of preparing blog posts for the module tutor’s blog The Legal Spaceman. There are also external blogs which encourage student submissions. There will be guest lectures by experts in the field of space exploration. Study on this module is predicated on an interest in wider issues surrounding space exploration.

No prior knowledge of space law will be required. An awareness of international law will be useful but is not essential. This module complements other subjects offered at this stage in your programme, and will also provide you with policy and international relations perspectives.

How will I learn on this module?

The module will utilise lectures and workshops to initiate your practical thinking on the areas mentioned above. The lectures will cover the basic legal frameworks of the topics outlined above. Workshops will provide an opportunity to discuss the law in the context of the contemporary space environment thereby consolidating your understanding and emphasising the implications of the law. You will be assessed by way of a written piece of coursework based on a case study, which will take place in the Semester Two assessment period.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The members of staff who teach on this module have significant research experience in this area. As such, they will provide academic support where necessary. All lectures will be recorded and made available to students to aid in learning and understanding. You will be encouraged to use this resource to develop your appreciation of the interrelated nature of the disparate areas of law studied as part of the module.
The module will make use of the eLearning Portal where lecture materials, podcasts, recordings, and other learning support will be made available. The module site will also direct you to supplementary resources which you are encouraged to explore in addition to the material covered in lectures and workshops.

The module will make use of an online reading list. The reading list will provide you with links to key texts and information on their availability in the university library.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• Students will develop knowledge of the fundamental principles of both the national and international legal regulation of the exploration and exploitation of Outer Space (LO1)

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• Students will develop an understanding of the essential domestic and international elements of space law and be able to apply them in a specific factual context. (LO2)

• Students will be able to identify relevant policy considerations, to apply them to a given factual scenario and to draft appropriate advice. (LO3)

• Students will be able to understand the nature and implications of proposed changes in space activity and the global space industry and the social, cultural and political factors influencing international and national space law. (LO4)

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment

Students will be given regular feedback throughout the module in workshops and encouraged to engaged with the space law community through the use of social media and blog posts.

Summative Assessment

Students will be assessed by means of a 2500-word piece of work critically evaluating the space law issues taken from a case study of a small space start-up company.





Module abstract

This module will provide you with a detailed understanding of the way in which space exploration is governed on a national and international level. The module will examine the way in which traditional space activity is governed, such as satellite communications, military activity in space, interplanetary probes and also human spaceflight. You will also evaluate legal responses to new developments such as mining and tourism in space and managing environmental issues in space. You will look at the challenges to space governance posed by commercial activity of companies such as Space X and Blue Origin. You will also examine the threats posed by military activity in space. You will learn on this module through a combination of lectures and workshops. You will receive support, guidance and feedback from your tutors. The module is assessed through a written piece of coursework based on a case study.

Course info

UCAS Code M101

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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