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International Law of Armed Conflict (Level 6)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Ali Raiss-Tousi
  • Assessment: an essay portfolio of 4000 words (100%)

Module description

The Law of Armed Conflict (also known as International Humanitarian Law) governs the way in which states conduct warfare. It comprises a set of rules that seek to:

  • protect persons (and objects) that are affected by war
  • limit the rights of conflicting parties to use the methods of warfare of their choice.

In this module we introduce you to the legal rules surrounding armed conflict through the relevant international treaties. We will demonstrate the practical problems of applying and enforcing humanitarian law by evaluating recent armed conflicts.

The emphasis throughout this module is practical. Examples are taken from real conflict situations, and since the law reflects political and military necessities as well as humanitarian concerns, we will examine how respect for the rules could be improved.

Indicative syllabus

  • Historical development of the law of armed conflict
  • The contemporary legal basis and fundamental principles of the law of armed conflict
  • Types of armed conflict
  • Individual status in armed conflict - combatants, non-combatants and prisoners of war
  • Protection of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked
  • The law of belligerent occupation and protection of civilians
  • Targeting
  • Means and methods of warfare
  • Implementation, enforcement and accountability

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to engage in a critical appraisal of the current state of the law of armed conflict.