LAW42020 Law of Armed Conflict

Academic Year 2023/2024

It is an unfortunate fact of our contemporary reality that armed conflicts continue in many countries around the world, claiming a considerable number of direct and indirect victims. This module examines the branch of public international law that protects those victims whilst respecting (limited) military interests of the parties to armed conflicts: the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), also known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). In addition, the module analyses the operation of the LOAC in past and on-going armed conflicts.

After introducing the LOAC, its origin, purpose, limits and main principles, the module sheds light on the separation between the LOAC and the ius ad bellum; its sources; its scope of application encompassing international and non-international armed conflicts; the operation of the principle of distinction between civilians, combatants and persons directly participating in hostilities; the conduct of hostilities; the protection of the wounded and sick and medical facilities; the evolving relationship between the LOAC and human rights law; the application of the LOAC to non-state armed groups; as well as the implementation and enforcement of the LOAC.

Throughout, the module seeks to critically examine, explain and address the gap between the well-developed rules of the LOAC and the contemporary practice of warring parties to recent armed conflicts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module students should be able to:
• Explain the origin, relevance, realism and modes of operation of the LOAC in past and contemporary armed conflicts, as well as the challenges it meets;
• Demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental principles, treaty provisions and customary rules of the LOAC, including the need to draw a legal distinction between the various categories of armed conflicts, persons and objects to which different regimes of the LOAC apply;
• Examine the relationship between the LOAC and human rights law, and apply both bodies of law concurrently;
• Explain the implementation mechanisms of the LOAC; and
• Relate and apply LOAC concepts and rules to real-life events and critically evaluate legal arguments brought forward by various actors involved in armed conflicts.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The teaching format is 12x2 hour seminars. Seminars comprise introductions by the coordinator, discussions based on requested reading, and the study and discussion of cases and materials relating to past and on-going armed conflicts.

Students will also be asked to make short small-group presentations analysing legal aspects of case studies and answering questions in subsequent discussions. This allows students to develop their skills to relate the law, its concepts and theory to practice, and to critically evaluate the broader consequences of adopting different interpretations of LOAC rules.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: 15-20 minute small group (2-3 students) presentation on legal aspects of a case study, guided by questions provided in advance. Discussion of case study in class. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 4000 word essay. Students will be able to choose from essay questions on a number of topics covered by the module.
Essays are due for submission in week 14.
Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 14:00 - 15:50