LAW 7190 - Commercial Space Law

North Terrace Campus - Quadmester 4 - 2020

This course provides a survey of the legal and policy issues associated with the domestic and international legal regimes regulating commercial activities in, to and from space. It will provide an overview of the UN Space Treaties and the requirements imposed on States to implement and comply with international law with respect to all national space activities. It will examine domestic Australian space law and compare that to regimes in US, UK, New Zealand and other jurisdictions. It will also provide an overview of relevant commercial law issues such as technology transfer, non-disclosure agreements and contracts. It will address key issues of insurance and liability.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7190
    Course Commercial Space Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Quadmester 4
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 36 hours
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Assessment Class participation, short issues paper and research essay
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Melissa de Zwart

    Mr Joel Lisk
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Undertake legal research at a high level of complexity.
    2. Effectively structure and articulate written legal arguments.
    3. Deploy advanced skills in statutory and treaty interpretation to resolve complex legal problems arising in relation to domestic and international laws affecting the commercial space industry.
    4. Analyse complex factual scenarios and identify the relevant legal issues arising in relation to Commercial Space Law.
    5. Articulate complex legal arguments orally.
    6. Identify and evaluate relevant domestic and international legal regimes affecting the space environment, including the legal and ethical relationship between civilian and military space operations and dual use technologies.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course readings will be provided via MyUni prior to the course.
    Recommended Resources
    Course readings will be provided via MyUni prior to the course.
    Online Learning
    Classes will be conducted either face to face or via Zoom. Materials for study will be provided via MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Classes will be taught in an interactive, intensive mode over one week. Students are expected to have undertaken the reading provided and to come to class ready to discuss that material. Some expert commentary will be provided via live or pre-recorded video conferencing.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours of private study in addition to your regular class.
    Learning Activities Summary
    All students will be expected to undertake pre-reading prior to the course which will be provided in advance of the week of classes.

    Day 1:
    • International Space Law
    o Cover the five main international space treaties and their application to States and private actors.
    o Identification and exploration of the operative and key provisions for commercial space activities.
    o Processes and interpretation for the purposes of implementation into domestic law.
    • Domestic space legislation
    o Basis.
    o General practices and provisions given binding force.

    Day 2:
    • Australian Space Law
    o History
    o Development
    o Current form
    o Run through from Launch to Return

    Day 3:
    • Foreign Space Laws
    o United States
    o United Kingdom
    o New Zealand
    o Japan
    o Luxembourg
    • Liability
    o International Liability
    o Manifestation through domestic law
    o Cross-waivers, contracts and insurance

    Day 4:
    • Operations
    o Commercial contracting
    o Non-disclosure/ intellectual property
    o Finance and Security
    • National Security and Military Cross Overs
    • Telecommunications & Spectrum

    Day 5:
    • Trade Law
    • Specific Activities
    o International Launch
    o Private Spaceflight
    o Mining
    o Colonisation
    • Law Reform
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment Task Task Type (Group or Individual)
    Due Weighting Length Redeemable Course Learning Outcome
    Class participation Individual


    10% N/A No 1,3,4.5,6
    Short Issues paper Individual 30 November 2020 2pm 30% 2000 words No 1,2,3,4,6
    Research Essay Individual  4 January 2021 2pm 60% 4000 words No 1,2,3,4,6
    Assessment Detail
    Class Participation: Students will have ample opportunity to participate in class discussion.  In addition, there will be at least one in class exercise where students will have the opportunity to present their considered analysis.  Numerous legal, ethical and policy issues will be presented throughout the course and students will have ample opportunity to develop their own perspectives and to articulate those perspectives.  Please note that this mark will be principally based on quality of engagement not frequency of engagement. 

    Short Issues Paper: The scope of this topic is large and there will be numerous legal, ethical and policy issues encountered through the course.  Students will be required to identify a particular issue that has resonance with them and to write a 2000 word paper examining that particular issue.  

    Research Essay: While students will be free to design any relevant (and approved) topic they would like, selected possible topics will be presented progressively through the course for consideration.  These proposed topics will be mostly based on the themes that attract particular student engagement during the week.  All topics must be approved by the Course Coordinator by the last day of the course. 
    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    The essay and short issues paper must be submitted in accordance with the specific directions contained in the essay instructions which will be made available on MYUni.

    Extentions: Requests for extensions must be made electronically, according to law school policy.

    Extensions  will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy.  Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements for example are not unexpected circumstances.

    Late submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part therof that it is late, including a day on a weekend.   For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%.  An essay that is two days late will receive a penalty of 10%, three days late a penalty of 15% etc.

    Word length - 5% penalty for every 100 words that exceed the word limit.  Applied to the total mark as illustrated in the formula above.   

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.