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Cyberspace Law


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Damian Bielicki
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module we look into the legal regime governing cyberspace and see how it copes with the breakdown of national barriers and the cross-border implications of the worldwide interlinking of computers. We will consider a critical approach involving the multidisciplinary nature of cyberspace, with studies including law, politics, history, science, philosophy, sociology, economy, ethics and international relations. Moreover, we will look into cyberspace law from a regional, national and international perspective.

You will have the opportunity to describe, analyse and evaluate different issues, and to look beneath the surface of laws and regulations, to see the 'bigger picture'. During the module we intend to foster pluralist ideas and opinions, therefore we will not only look for the most important aspects of cyberspace law but will question the information, ideas and arguments that we come across.

We will focus on how the recent technological developments (e.g. virtual money or artificial intelligence) influence the development of cyberspace law and policy. We will also address a whole host of cyberspace-related activities, such as e-commerce, intellectual property, cybercrime, international security, ethical and moral issues. We aim to look into the major rules and concepts governing space activities de lege lata and de lege ferenda (the law as it exists and what the law should be). We will also look into the implications of the use of information technology, and the intended and unintended consequences of regulating that use.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • explain how the internet works and what is the role of law and lawyers in cyberspace
  • critically evaluate ongoing developments in law relating to information technologies and recognise how these developments relate to one another
  • discuss how the information society and law function in terms of free speech, censorship, discriminatory behaviours (including cyber bullying and cyber racism)
  • recognise what is cybercrime and how to fight it and protect yourself against it
  • explain how electronic commerce works and what are the related issues, including contracting, electronic payments, taxation, intellectual property
  • introduce the national, regional and international approaches to cyber security, surveillance, cyber terrorism and cyber warfare
  • recognise what is artificial intelligence and what are the social, economic, political, technological, legal, ethical and philosophical issues related to AI
  • discuss the ethical and moral issues raised by cyberspace, including hacking, social networking, intercultural information ethics, plagiarism, online file sharing and whistleblowing
  • examine areas of doctrinal and political debate surrounding rules and theories and evaluate them in terms of internal coherence and practical outcomes.