LW7102 - 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. Seminars 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. During your seminars you will be provided with a number of opportunities to undertake research, to consider how to effectively reference legal sources, and to discuss the evolution of the regulation of space activity. You will undertake tasks both individually and in groups. During these seminars you will receive feedback from your tutors and from fellow students and you will be encouraged to reflect upon the feedback you receive and how that feedback can be used to improve your research, writing and understanding of the regulation of space. Your module is supported by a range of electronic materials, which are made available to all students via the eLearning platform (Blackboard Ultra). These include lecture recordings, written guidance, podcasts, YouTube videos, and self-test exercises. You will receive a module handbook which outlines the formal sessions (lectures and seminars) and provides details of independent study/learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The members of staff who teach on this module have significant research experience in respect of the law of outer space. As such, they will be the principle source of academic support in the module. 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 an online reading list. The reading list will provide you with links to key texts and information on their availability in the university library. The University is well-placed to support you in learning and research with an excellent library and teaching facilities, access to on-line legal databases and resources and appropriate software. This module has been designed and is managed by your designated Module Tutor who will be responsible for guiding you in your engagement and learning on the module. All relevant materials and instructions including notes for lectures and workshops will be accessible on-line through the Blackboard Ultra site. The site is maintained by your Module Tutor, who will also provide updates on issues of current legal/space significance as appropriate. In respect of support for your assessment, you will be provided with appropriate written or oral feedback (as appropriate), and, as part of your reflective development, such feedback can be utilised in the preparation of subsequent module assessments on the programme. At programme level you will be supported by the Programme Leader who will provide pastoral support throughout the module and the programme as a whole.

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:

1. You will be able to display and critically apply expert knowledge within the field of space law and policy.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. You will be able to analyse and communicate complex legal and policy issues relating to human space activity.

3. You will be able to critically evaluate source material, suggest alternative approaches to the law of outer space and its application in practice and reflect on the application of your knowledge and that of others within practical contexts

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

4. You will take responsibility for your own independent learning in the field of space law and policy, working independently to further enhance existing skills and develop new skills to a high level

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment will be achieved by self-test questions in module materials, group discussion, informal peer assessment and assessed and non-assessed exercises.

Summative Assessment will be undertaken on an individual basis by way of assignment, which constitutes 100% of the marks for this module. This assignment aims to encourage a deep and critical approach to learning, developing an ability to think widely about the issues of space governance presented within the module and to explore these in line with directed and independent learning.

The maximum word limit for the assessment is 3,000 words. The assessment will take the form of a problem-based scenario which will be designed to facilitate examination of specific aspects of relevant space law and related legal research and may include discussion of recent developments, where appropriate assessment criteria will be provided to enable you to understand what is expected of you and how you will be judged on your performance.





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 development of expertise in space applications, and the regulation of space activity is gaining increasing significant in a wide range of businesses and public sector organisations. Studying on this module will, therefore, significantly enhance your employability profile and give you skills and knowledge that are valued by a wide range of employers.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

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