LL401E      Half Unit
The Law of Armed Conflict

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stephen Humphreys NAB5.12


This course is available on the Executive LLM. This course is not available as an outside option.

Available to Executive LLM students only. This course will be offered on the Executive LLM during the four year degree period. The Department of Law will not offer all Executive LLM courses every year, although some of the more popular courses may be offered in each year, or more than once each year. Please note that whilst it is the Department of Law's intention to offer all Executive LLM courses, its ability to do so will depend on the availability of the staff member in question. For more information please refer to the Department of Law website.

Course content

This course covers the international law governing the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello, also known as the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law)--as distinct from the law on the resort to force (jus ad bellum), which is a separate course. The course will take a critical approach to the international regulation and facilitation of armed conflict. As well as the laws governing the means and methods of war (‘Hague’ law), the ‘protected’ groups hors de combat (‘Geneva’ law), and the distinction between international and non-international armed conflict, the course will cover ‘lawfare’ more generally: the recourse to law as a means of waging war. It will examine the application of the laws of war, including occupation law, in recent conflicts, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the 'war on terror', and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Students can expect to have a thorough grasp of the principles and regulations governing the conduct of hostilities, the context and efficacy of enforcement mechanisms, and a critical understanding of the normative and political stakes of international law in this area. 


24-26 hours of contact time.

Formative coursework

Students will have the option of producing a formative exam question of 2000 words to be delivered one month from the end of the module’s teaching session by email.

Indicative reading

It is worthwhile acquiring the following books: Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (Cambridge UP, 2nd ed., 2010, or 3rd ed., 2016), Roberts and Guelff, Documents on the Laws of War (Oxford UP, 2000); Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (Basic books, 4th ed. 2006) . Other useful books include: David Kennedy, Of Law and War (Princeton UP, 2006): Geoffrey Best, War and Law Since 1945 (Oxford UP, 1997). Detailed readings for each seminar will be made available on Moodle. 


Either a take-home examination or 8,000 word assessed essay (100%).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills