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ECSL Essay Competition

12/08/2014 12535 views 12 likes
ESA / About Us / ECSL European Centre for Space Law

One of the ECSL's core objectives is to promote knowledge of and interest in the law relating to space activities through the encouragement of research activities. In 2014 it was decided to inaugurate a Student Essay Competition. The competition challenges students to think critically about a particular topic in space law and policy and to present cogent arguments in support of a position.

2017/2018 competition - Announcement of winners:

The ECSL was very happy to note a good number of essays submitted to this years essay competition. In the end the selection committee selected the following essays as the winners:

  • 1st place: Anita Dhillon, Brunel University London
  • 2nd place: Colin Frank, Freie Universitat Berlin
  • 3rd place: Vinicius Aloia, University of Helsinki


Anita's essay is available in the right hand tool bar.

The ECSL wish to congratulate all the winners, and hope that we will see equal enthusiasm for future essay competitions.

More about the 2018 competition:

The topic for the 2017/2018 competition will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rescue and Return Agreement, and students are invited to contemplate upon the topic of – The Rescue and Return Agreement in times of non-governmental spaceflights.

The student competition will be open to all students up to and including PhD-students.

The prizes for the 2017/2018 essay competition will be as following:

  • First Prize: 
    • Reasonable costs of transport and accommodation (for a trip originating within Europe only) to attend the ECSL Practitioners’ Forum and Young Lawyer Symposium, which will take place at ESA HQ at 23-24th of March 2018.
    • An annual ECSL Membership
    • Publication on the ECSL website.
  • Second Prize:
    • An annual ECSL membership (free admission to the Practitioners’ Forum),
    • Second place certificate
    • Special mention at the Young Lawyer Symposium and on the website
  • Third Prize:
    • An annual ECSL membership for one year (free admission to the Practitioners’ Forum)
    • Third place certificate
    • Special mention at the Young Lawyer Symposium and on the website.


Overview: Registration and submission deadlines:

  • Register by:  15th of February 2018
  • Submission deadline: 9th of March 2018


Please complete the registration form in the right hand tool bar, and send with the requested information to by the 15th of February, in order to receive an anonymous candidate number.

Please send your submission with the requested information to by the 9th of March 2018. All submissions will receive a confirmation email that the essay has been received.
No late submissions will be accepted


1. Participation

(i) Eligibility
The Essay Competition is open to all students who are currently undertaking a university degree course up to (and including) a PhD degree, in any discipline, in an ESA Member or Cooperating State.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are enrolled students by sending a copy of their university enrolment certificate along with their registration form.

Candidates can enter the competition more than once.

(ii) Registration
Candidates must have their registrations confirmed by the ECSL in order to be eligible to participate in the competition.

To register, please complete the registration form available on the right hand toolbar, and send proof of your student status as is indicated in the form.

Once registered you will receive an anonymous candidate number.

2. Format

(i) Language
Essays must be written in English.

(ii) Anonymity
In order to protect anonymity and to ensure a fair process, neither the name of the applicant nor the name of his/her university must appear anywhere in the submitted essay; only the candidate number provided upon registration should be used.

(iii) Software
Essays should be written using Microsoft Word and sent in Microsoft Word format only.


(iv) Length
The body of the essay should not exceed 12 pages (including the footnotes) spaced 1.5, 'normal' 1" margins all around, in Times New Roman, size 12. A covering sheet and bibliography should be added separately (not included in the 12 page word count). All pages must be numbered.

(v) Plagiarism
Plagiarism is cause for immediate disqualification. You are free to take ideas from copyrighted works (e.g. use the same court decision paragraph for your own analysis), but please do not copy or paraphrase ideas expressed previously by others.

Be sure to provide proper references for any material you cite from other sources and for observations or conclusions derived from others’ work. The ECSL recommends the Bluebook Uniform System of Citation. A helpful guide can be found by following the link on the top right hand side of this page.

(vi) Independent Work
All essays submitted should be the sole work of the applicant. It is not permitted to co-author an essay or to show any draft to a Professor or other person for correction or review. All research should likewise be independent.

3. Deadline

Essays must be submitted by 9th of March 2018 via e-mail (Word format) to the ECSL Executive Secretary at

4. Assessment

  1. The Judging Panel
    The Judging Panel shall be composed of a distinguished panel of professors and practitioners in the field of space law and policy.
  2. Assessment Criteria
    Participants should seek to fulfil the following assessment criteria in their essays:

- A logical presentation of subject matter and issues presented
- A clear understanding of applicable legal rules
- Evidence of research
- Originality of arguments
- Writing style and grammar

(iii) No Appeals
The decision of the Judging Panel is final. No appeals will be entertained.

(iv) Announcement of Results
Results of the competition will be announced on the ESCL website. All participants who submitted essays will be informed via email.

(v) Feedback
Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide individual feedback for each of the essays submitted.

5. Further Terms and Conditions of Participation

The ECSL reserves the right to disqualify essays which do not comply with any of the rules above.

Participants accept all responsibility for late, lost, misdirected or illegible entries.

In consideration of the opportunity to enter the ECSL Essay Competition, participants agree to allow the ECSL to use their names and essays on the ECSL website.

By entering, participants agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the judges and ECSL.

6. Enquiries

For further information, please contact the ECSL Executive Secretary at


Previous themes and winners of the ECSL Essay Competitions:

2014 - What are the main legal issues raised by space mining?, Winner: Lucius Klobucnik of the University of Helsinki, Finland.

2015What is the current and what could be the prospective legal regime for non-orbital flights?, Winner: Isis de Moortel of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

2016-17 The 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty: How Would the Outer Space Treaty Be Different If Drafted in 2017?, Winner: Raphael Costa of the Institute of Space and Telecommunications Law (IDEST), part of the University of Paris-Saclay, France.

Essays from previous winners, can be viewed on the right-hand side of this page.



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