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Space Law, Governance & Planetary Protection - LAW00082H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Scott Steele
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The module will consider the area of space law, governance and planetary protection in a broad view to develop critical ideas for exploration in outer space. The module will seek to understand international and domestic space law and what the future holds for space governance and planetary protection in a world of private actors.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • To understand and be able to understand international and domestic space law.
  • To be able to critically examine the different approaches of international space law and the UK space law/ regulations.
  • To be able to build on global governance concepts with application to international space governance.
  • Be able to understand COSPARs planetary protection policy while understanding the limitations of the group and the legal application within international cooperation.
  • To understand the key aspects of the Outer Space Treaty, Liability Convention, Rescue Agreement, Moon Agreement and Registration Convention.
  • To gain a firm understanding of space governance in a broad international context.
  • To develop an understanding of COSPAR and the rationale of planetary protection policy.
  • Formative: To understand what the future of outer space may look like through international and domestic law.

Module learning outcomes

  • Explain, apply, discuss and critically evaluate well-established international law concepts, principles, theories and perspectives
  • Discuss and critique the development and purpose of international law and its interrelationship with society and other disciplines
  • Develop individual opinions and arguments on international law issues and propositions supported by appropriately critiqued academic evidence
  • Apply and evaluate critical problem-solving strategies to develop and propose solutions to academic and practical legal problems
  • Plan, implement, evaluate research methodologies and strategies, and locate relevant and reliable sources and authorities.
  • Communicate the outputs of the above in a variety of written and oral formats and contexts to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Demonstrate understanding of norms of scholarly and professional legal practice
  • To demonstrate the understand and key critiques in the fields of international law, governance and none binding international relationships.

Module content

You'll cover the following:

  • The Outer Space Treaty
  • Other Space Law
  • Space Governance
  • Domestic Law & the European Space Agency
  • COSPAR and Planetary Protection
  • Space Debris & Issues
  • The ISS and geopolitical considerations
  • Space mining and appropriation


Task Length % of module mark
Legal Opinion 2000 words
N/A 80
Poster Presentation
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Legal Opinion 2000 words
N/A 80
Poster Presentation
N/A 20

Module feedback

Students will receive informal feedback in lectures and seminars.

Individualised written and oral feedback on the essay will be provided within in semester 2.

Indicative reading

Dunk F von der., Tronchetti, Fabio and Edward Elgar Publishing, Handbook of Space Law [electronic Resource] / Edited by Frans von Der Dunk with Fabio Tronchetti. (Edward Elgar Pub Ltd 2015)

Hobe S, Pioneers of Space Law (BRILL 2013)

Lyall F and Larsen, Paul B. editor, Space Law: a Treatise / Edited by Francis Lyall, Paul B. Larsen. (Second edition, London: Routledge 2018)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.