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Master in Air and Space Law

College of Law
Study System
Thesis and Courses
Total Credit Hours
33 Cr.Hrs
2-4 Years
Fall & Spring
Sharjah Main Campus
Study Mode
Full Time and Part Time

Master in Air and Space Law

The United Arab Emirates' march towards globalization has created the need for professionally trained people to lead and manage the legal aspects of a global economy. The UAE is a contracting party to General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and one of the founding Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Commercial Agency Law (revised in June 2010) is based on the principle of free and open economy that encourages local and international investment from people of all nationalities. To foster international trading ties and to attract MNCs & TNCs to establish their affiliates in the country, the UAE has signed several free trade agreements (FTAs) with the EU, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and with all major economies of the world. Several new joint stock companies (both public & private) have been established in the UAE. The nation has a legal infrastructure to participate in the world economy.

On par with technologically advanced countries, the UAE has built world class air transport facilities and amenities to cater to the needs and demands of the global market. The GCAA is making excellent efforts to cater to the needs of passengers and cargo to and from various world destinations. The UAE's geographic location lends itself to making the country a world hub in air transport. The UAE created a Federal Emirati Space Agency to capitalize on the growing Middle East presence in the global space industry. The UAE is building and improving its strengths in air transportation and commercial space development, and is poised to take its place among the world leaders in these fields.

Air and space law is the emerging area of study that addresses the legal and regulatory aspects of these economic strengths. There is an urgent need to educate UAE students and legal professionals with accurate knowledge in these fields in order to prepare them to lead the nation in its growth and development. Since we are living in the age of specialization in both public and private legal environments, air travel and transport companies prefer to recruit individuals who have excellent legal skills, language proficiency, and relevant legal work experience.

"Emiratization" is a mandate under the UAE law, with a goal to educate and employ UAE nationals to lead in both public and private sectors. The majority of law firms in the UAE are equipped with foreign lawyers, most of whom are educated with specialized legal skills. Consequently, few Emirati lawyers are able to participate in international and global legal transactions because they are not well equipped with specialized training, including air and space law related areas. The College of Law at University of Sharjah recognizes the lack of sophisticated legal training in this field and established a Master Degree (MASL) in Air and Space Law to address this need.

Thus, this Program should significantly help "Emiratize" the practice of air and space law in the UAE. There is an urgent need to educate and train UAE students in air and space law to produce first class international lawyers.

To meet the growing demand and to face these challenges, a systematic and academically rigorous approach is needed to provide in-depth training in air and space law. There is a growing demand in the UAE for lawyers, especially with specialized training in the field of air and space law. This demand is even greater with the establishment of a space agency.

Program Objectives

Program Goals

Goals of the Master Program in Air and Space Law are:

  1. Provide students with the highest level of learning knowledge in air and space law.
  2. Enhance self, social, academic and personal development of students through preparing them to undertake leadership positions in their chosen professions.
  3. Enhance and enriching knowledge through exploration and scientific research in collaboration with various research institutions all over the world.
  4. Contribute to the cultural, social, economic development of society through positive response and cooperation with public and private institutions and organizations.
  5. Maintain and enhancing culture and both Islamic and Arabic heritage by supporting and developing academic and research programs in these areas as well as through liaising with other academic and cultural institutions in both the Arabic and Islamic world. 
  6. Enhance the quality and reputation of higher education in UAE by cooperating with other institutions of higher education.
  7. Contribute to the development of education and human resources in Sharjah and UAE through adapting academic and professional programs which reflect the future needs of work market, and by providing continuous educational and training programs to enhance the level of knowledge and qualifications for workforces.

Program Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate advanced and integrated knowledge of the key principles, rules and institutions relating to the international air and space law.
  2. Apply specialized knowledge of the key rules and legal policy issues relating to the international law regimes on civil aviation, aviation insurance, liability for aviation risks and criminal activity during international air travel.
  3. Analyze the key rules and policy issues relating to the space objects, commercial use of outer space and the use of outer space for military purposes.
  4. Critically evaluate the current status and effectiveness of the key treaties, rules and institutions of international air and space law.
  5. Compare between the different schools of legal systems, jurisprudence, and judicial approaches.
  6. Analyze different legal, jurisprudential and judicial opinions especially those related to the UAE legal system.
  7. Complete an analytical research paper in one of the space law subjects.

Conduct legal research using both traditional and electronic resources to answer legal questions and issues and to practice writing legal memoranda, briefs, and letters.

Program Structure & Requirements

Requirement Credit Hours
Compulsory Courses 18
Elective Courses 6
Dissertation 9
Total Credit Hours 33
Degree Completion Requirements

The Masters in Air and Space Law program consists of nine courses; (Total 33 credits). Students are required to complete all Compulsory courses (Total of 18 credit hours), and selected 2 Elective courses according to the study plan.

Course Description

1-        Introduction to Law 
 This course is designed for those with no formal knowledge of law. The course introduces students to a range of introductory legal issues concerning the sources, institutions, and underpinnings of the law. Students will gain an understanding and appreciation of basic legal issues through: the practical application of statutory interpretation; role of courts in applying legislation; and use of precedents. The course will address various legal subjects including contract law, tort law, product liability law, litigation law and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The course will also identify both civil law and common law legal systems.

2-        Public International Law
This course provides an introduction to international law. It covers the major areas of general international law and is not over-specialized. The lectures cover the core tutorial topics on the nature and sources of international law, the law of treaties, international legal personality, jurisdiction and immunities, state responsibility, the use of force and the procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes, and international organizations. In addition, the course focuses on some areas such the law of the sea, international humanitarian law, and international environmental law.

3-         Private Air law: Treaties and cases
The aim of this course is examine the impact of air cargo law developments on the airline business, and understand the different approaches and solutions to the complex air cargo law issues. It will review the international conventions on air law in relation to cargo liability, namely Warsaw 1929 and Montreal 1999 conventions for the Unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air. Both conventions attempts to re-establish uniformity and predictability of rules relating to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo. The course examines the core provisions which have served the international air transport community for several decades. In addition to that, related national, European and U.S. measures and rules are going to be discussed in details. Moreover, the course will address the third party liability, passenger protection, ATC liability, and aviation product liability. This is to also evaluate the national rules and to explore the difference between agent and forwarder liability.

4-         Public International Air law: Treaties and Institutions
This course covers the Chicago Convention system regarding international civil aviation, including its drafting history, bilateral air service agreements, criminal law treaties and arrangements, criminal air law and aviation security, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, and other public and private organizations, both world-wide and regional, such as ACAC, AFCAC, LACAC, ECAC, ICC, OECD, UNCTAD and WTO. Moreover, the course focuses on some contemporary topics, such as the regulation of unmanned aerial, or air, vehicle (UAVs), global MBMs for emissions, noise regulation, airport charges, slot allocation and ground handling. Inter-airline co-operation, especially alliances, is also covered under this course.

5-         International Space law and communication
This course discusses the genesis, substance and future of the corpus juris spatialis - consisting of the Outer Space Treaty, including its drafting history, the Rescue and Return Agreement, the Liability Convention, the Registration Convention and the Moon Agreement. The course also covers more recent conventions including the UN international legal instruments at the level of so-called principles, and the institutional legislative process in relation to law-making for outer space activities, with particular emphasis on law-making in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Also, the course addresses the legal and policy aspects of current and future outer space activities, both space and earth-oriented, such as research and development programs, remote sensing, commercial exploitation of natural resources, military uses, and telecommunications. Furthermore, the various specialized institutions and intergovernmental organizations (e.g. ETISALAT, ESA, INTELSAT, INMARSAT, EUTELSAT and EUMETSAT) will be addressed, including the process of privatization which some have undergone in recent years. Also, the implementation of the international rules at the domestic level by means of national space legislation will be covered in terms of existing and future regimes.

6- Comparative Space law and Regulation
This course surveys the national regulatory frameworks governing space activities, with a particular focus on the legal frameworks that govern private and governmental entities engaged in space activities.  Activities addressed at the national or regional level include discussions on national space authorities, supranational bodies, and licensing schemes and operation requirements for launching, remote sensing and telecommunications. The course provides students with a thorough knowledge of the myriad legal issues involved in space activities, including state obligations under the UN treaties, international law, private international law, and national space laws, regulations and policies.

7- Civil Aviation Law and Policy: UAE Specific
This course focuses on the federal government air transport regulations and various provisions relating to safety and security and certificate of financial fitness, air transport services, non-essential airport related services, airports, consumer protection, labor, air Navigation and communication, and environment. The role of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in policy making and their implementation- with a special reference to the standards recommended by the ICAO, which are compiled with by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency- will be an integral part of this course.

8- Aviation Safety and Security: Issues in Air Traffic Management
This course is designed to give a comprehensive understanding of the elements and functions involved in compliant ICAO Safety Management Systems (SMS). Understanding the context and drivers of a Safety Management System in addition to differentiate existing safety management organization and new elements of a SMS are going to be discussed in details in this course. During this course, candidates will identify related civil aviation safety and security risks, learn how to manage security risks and incidents, and analyze various emergency planning response options. This is to increase their understanding of the legal framework in which aviation security operates, identify key practices for securing civil aviation and understand how to implement them in different regimes. Learn how aviation security is integrated within the aviation industry, and evaluate how business decisions are being affected by threats and risks. Learn how to balance security with cost effectiveness, and develop effective communication techniques to deal with airlines, authorities, and other entities.

9- Air transport competition law and policy
The aim of this course is to introduce legal concepts and details with regard to competition and antitrust law in both international best practices and national law. It will analyze the fundamental provisions of competition law according to European, American, and Emirates legal systems including the rules regarding: abuse of dominant position, horizontal and vertical agreements, merger control rules and policies. The course will take a comparative law perspective and will provide examples from cases in different legal systems in order to evaluate the efficiency of national rules to deal with the non- competitive behaviors of undertakings in aviation sector.

10- Liberalization of Air Transport: UAE Government Regulations
This course covers various international and UAE air laws and policies, rules and regulations on liberalization and privatization of international air transport. The course will have a special focus on the UAE civil aviation authorities and their policies on the subject as well as the practice of negotiating air transport market access agreements, and the changes adopted by the UAE federal government to its air law; considering the European and the U.S. standards as a benchmark. The bilateral, multilateral, and regional treaties and agreements, negotiated by the UAE federal government with other nations, will be analyzed as a part of this course.

11- Aircraft Financing and Leasing
This course provides coverage of the key aspects of the aviation leasing and finance industry. It provides analysis of the legal and practical issues in relation to what parties encounter in aircraft leasing and finance transactions, including national rules and international best practices. The course covers key legal, financial and technical issues, as well as an understanding of the broader regulation, tax, and insurance aspects relevant to aircraft leasing and finance. It also gives students knowledge about operations, along with the portfolio of expertise and skills they need to manage the financial risk, monetary policies, economic strategies used by commercial firms and regulators in the global air transportation industry, and leasing conditions, requirements and measures in terms of national legal system.   

12- Aviation and Airspace Risk, Liability, Insurance and Dispute Resolution
The course focuses on various types of insurance policies, their terms and conditions, the protection and coverage they offer in both of aviation and space law. The student will also learn the procedural aspects such as interpretation of clauses in the policy, investigation and procedure to make a claim from the insurance agencies. The students will be trained in dealing with the disputes of claims from passengers and cargo-owners, and various methods of resolution including arbitration, conciliation, mediation, and negotiation. This course would also cover main subjects that are recognized in Liability Convention for damage caused by space objects, such as: distinction between liability and responsibility, issue of direct and indirect damage in outer space, defining problems with terms "Damage", "Space object" and "Launching state", concept of Launching state, difference between absolute liability and fault based liability, dispute settlement in outer space. Issues of Space Insurance will be covered as well. The working procedure of some internationally recognized Institutional Arbitral Tribunals, dealing with such disputes in the UAE, would be evaluated in this course.

13- Legal Research and Legal Writing
This course offers the opportunity to gain in-depth working knowledge of legal research and legal writing resources and methods. The course is intended to develop a mastery of legal research beyond the level of the standard undergrad curriculum. The course will cover several major areas of legal research, legal writing and internship, including, but not limited to, extensive coverage of primary and secondary sources, practice and specialized topical resources. The student will be assigned a series of writing, research, and advocacy projects to engage the students in the process of legal reasoning. The course instructs the student in basic methods of legal analysis, effective written and oral communication of your analysis, and essential legal research tools and methodologies. 

14- Internship
Internship is a structured academic opportunity that allows students to apply academic skills and knowledge at the workplace. Students learn in an entirely different way from what they ever could have experienced in the classroom. This internship provides the ability for the students to work in aviation industry. These can mainly include the following: airports, UAE Civil Aviation Authority offices, and UAE Space Agency.

The internship is supervised by an internal instructor from the staff of the master program. The internal instructor organizes a set of visits to the students at his/her placement during the internship. Students are required to write weekly, reflective journal entries that are signed by the external instructor and submitted to the internal instructor. A final report will be submitted to the instructor by the end of the internship.

Special Admission Requirements
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