LEGAL444-21A (HAM)

Critical Issues in Space Law

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
Te Piringa - Faculty of Law


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Paper Description

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New Zealand has recently embarked on the development of a safe, responsible and secure space industry. This paper will provide students with an understanding of the key space law issues confronting New Zealand and prepare them for practice in this rapidly growing area of law. Issues will include legal developments in public manned spaceflight and space station operations, satellite communications and space resource utilisation.

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Paper Structure

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This paper will run for one semester only. There is one teaching component in this paper: lectures. All lectures will be delivered by Dr Anna Marie Brennan. The whole class must attend lectures.

This course is FLEXI and the lectures will also be available via Zoom. The only exception to this are classes timetabled in rooms without recording functionality.

Learning and Teaching Strategy

Critical Issues in Space Law implements the 'Teach Smart' strategy for learning and teaching. This strategy places a particular emphasis on enhancing analytical skills, increasing the opportunities for feedback and self-reflection, and fostering independent learning skills in students. The aims of the teaching and learning strategy in Critical Issues in Space Law are:

· To help you structure your independent learning time in the paper by giving both pre-and post-seminar activities to complete;

· To give you the opportunity to develop and refine your communication skills which are demanded by every prospective employer;

· To increase the use of IT support materials to facilitate your learning, such as podcasts published on Moodle following each seminar;

· To create a learning and teaching environment where you can become a more effective learner through self-reflection and giving you the opportunity to consider your own areas of strength and weakness;

· To increase the opportunity for timely and effective feedback throughout the paper.

Teaching Delivery

1. Pre-Lecture Reading and Materials

You will be provided with a reading list and brief handbooks which cover the basic principles of the area of Law under investigation. The reading list and each handbook is designed to be read before attending the corresponding lecture and provides a structure through which you can start your learning around a topic. Each brief handbook contains various short-form questions so that you can test your knowledge and understanding of the core principles. The handbooks are cross-referenced with your reading list so that you can consult the textbooks/articles/cases etc in order to gain further knowledge of the area before attending the lecture.

2. Lectures

These are designed to offer a critical analysis of the more complex areas of the syllabus and will examine the basic principles of the law as they relate to the substantive legal topics on the syllabus. The basic principles will also be understood through the pre-lecture work completed under 1 above. Lectures will also offer an opportunity to understand the development and content of space in a practical context through the use of real-world examples and hypothetical scenarios. Lectures will not only focus upon the fundamental principles of the area but will be driven by applying those principles and authorities to complex factual situations and developing higher-level skills of analysis and critique. Lectures are designed to further test and refine your knowledge and understanding and also to develop other key skills, including but not limited to, problem solving, assessment technique and treaty interpretation. The handbooks for each lecture will be available one week on Moodle.

If you cannot attend a lecture, please email the paper convenor, Dr Anna Marie Brennan, directly to let her know. Her email address is:

3. Drop-In Session (Optional)

The Drop-In Session is optional and designed to consolidate learning from lectures. It also enables students to receive timely clarification of any areas where they consider their knowledge and understanding to be weak. Students will be invited to attend on an individual basis during a particular time-slot. This session will have a structured exercise which you must consider prior to attending – this exercise is designed to facilitate personal reflection on your level of performance. The work-sheet for the Drop-In Session will be available on Moodle. Note that whilst attendance at this drop-in session is optional, it is expected that the work for the drop-in session will be completed.

4. Post-Lecture Feedback

After every lecture, Dr Anna Marie Brennan will release a brief summary, available through Moodle. The aim of this summary is to offer you feedback on student understanding and performance and clarify any areas of particular difficulty across the cohort. The summary will be released following each lecture and will be based on my own reflections. Your learning around a topic does not stop once the lecture is over. You should use the summary as a diagnostic tool which allows you to reflect critically on your understanding and help identify areas of uncertainty or misunderstanding whilst reinforcing those areas in which you are confident and guiding further work accordingly. They should be used in collaboration with the drop-in session materials which allow you to further test, develop and refine your understanding around a topic.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • 1. Demonstrate a critical knowledge and understanding of the key areas of space law, including its development and political and institutional aspects;

    2. Demonstrate the ability to effectively critique the provisions of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty;

    3. Demonstrate enhanced understanding generally of the specific workings of international law, especially treaties, customary international law and methods of dispute resolution;

    4. Demonstrate an appreciation of the some of the key space law issues confronting New Zealand;

    5. Demonstrate the ability to effectively critique existing arguments, and to develop new arguments about a range of legal issues relating to space law including but not limited to military uses in outer space; environmental protections; public manned spaceflight and space station operations; space tourism; space resource utilisation.

    Linked to the following assessments:
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This paper will be assessed by means of an online test and coursework, which will include a research proposal of 1,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) and a research essay of 3,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography). Students will be given a range of options from which they must choose one question.

The research proposal is the start of the research process and assists with getting you started on topic identification and topic refinement for your research essay. Please note that the topic of your research proposal must be the same as your research essay. An optional drop-in session will be scheduled in the second half of the module to provide guidance to students on the completion of the coursework.

Further guidance on the completion of assessments will provided in lectures and on Moodle.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Research Proposal
24 Mar 2021
12:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Research Essay
14 Jun 2021
12:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Take-Home Test
5 May 2021
12:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. In-Class Participation and Analysis
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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All law students are required to purchase a copy of the New Zealand Law Style Guide (3rd edition).

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Recommended Readings

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The following textbooks would be recommended for further study:

1. Ram S. Jakhu and Paul S. Dempsey, Routledge Handbook of Space Law (Routledge, Oxford, 2017);

2. Isabella H. P. Diederiks-Verschoor, An Introduction to Space Law (Kluwer International Law, The Netherlands, 2008);

3. Francis Lyall and Paul Larsen, Space Law: A Treatise (Routledge, Oxford, 2009);

4. Fabio Tronchetti, Fundamental of Space Law and Policy (Springer, New York, 2013);

5. Gerardine M. Goh, Dispute Settlement in Interntional Space Law: A Multi-Door Courthouse (Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden, 2007);

6. H. L. van Traa-Engelman, Commerical Utilization of Outer Space (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 1993);

7. Bin Cheng, Studies in International Space Law (Oxford University Press, Oxford,1997);

8. Frans von Der Dunk and Fabio Tronchetti, eds, Handbook of Space Law (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2015)

Please note that many of these textbooks are available online through the University of Waikato Library website. Please do not purchase any books on this list.

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Other Resources

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Useful Websites

Journals and other Publications on Space Law and Policy

  • Air and Space Law (Kluwer)
  • Annals of Air and Space Law (McGill University)
  • Journal of Air Law and Commerce
  • Journal of Space Law
  • Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL)
  • Revue Française de Droit Aérien et Spatial (RFDAS, Pédone) (in French)
  • Space Policy (Elsevier)
  • Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht (ZLW) in German (with selected articles in English and French)
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Online Support

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Online support for this paper is provided via Moodle. If you require assistance with Moodle, or encounter any problems, please contact the Help Desk. You can send a message to Help Desk by using the instant message service in your paper (from the participants list within the People block). Alternatively, you can email them directly at or call 838 4008.
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Students should expect to spend 150 hours in total on this paper. Significant time will need to be spent on background and complementary reading. Students should allow for periods of more­ focused research time in the preparation of assignments.
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