Module code: LAW2087

Module Overview

International Humanitarian Law examines the historical development of the law of armed conflict and several of the most important legal issues surrounding the use of military force today. The course addresses the fundamental questions of what justifies using military force, why peacetime rules may not apply in war, and what limits should apply to how military force is used. The course examines the evolution of the law of armed conflict through the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, and the jurisprudence of domestic and international tribunals. Finally, the course explores the relation between international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly in the context of counterterrorism operations.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

ANDRESEN Joshua (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: M130

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

The Right to Go to War Before the UN Charter
The Development of Humanitarian Law in the 19th century
The UN Charter’s prohibition of aggressive war
The Gevena Conventions and Additional Protocols
Command Responsibility
State Responsibility in War
The Use of Nuclear Weapons
State Responsibility in Military Occupation
The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts
Using Military Force to Combat Terrorism
The Right to Life in War and Counterterrorism Operations
Judicial Review and War
The Right to Detain
The Use of Drones
Human Shields
Targeting War Sustaining Activities
Case Studies Include:

The Falklands War
Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua
The Gulf War of 1990-91
NATO’s Intervention in Kosovo
The Conflict against Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Associated Froces
The Iraq War
Targeted Killing Cases
The Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
Armed Activities in the Congo
The Al-Saadoon Case
The War Against ISIS

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination FINAL EXAM (2 HOURS) 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

Their skill and expertise in articulating and critically evaluating the application of law to the use of military force in a variety of contexts.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


A final summative exam of two hours duration.

Formative assessment

The formative assessment will be a one hour examination.


Students will receive:

Detailed individual written feedback on the formative assessment.
Oral feedback on discussion participation thorughout the semester
Individual, informal feedback as required.

Module aims

  • Provide students with a comprehensive overview of the law of armed conflict
  • Introduce students to contemporary challenges in the law of armed conflict
  • Enable students to apply the law to specific issues and cases of armed conflict
  • Develop students’ expertise in analysing domestic and international court cases
  • Develop students’ expertise in analysing the relationship between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law
  • Stimulate critical thinking about what justifies using military force
  • Stimulate critical thinking about how the use of military force should be regulated

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Apply the international humanitarian law to specific cases of armed conflict KCPT
002 Critically analyse domestic and international court cases KCPT
003 Critically evaluate the relative application of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to actual scenarios KCPT
004 Articulate the challenges and limits of applying international humanitarian law to counterterrorism operations KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 122

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 6

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to ensure that students have a rigorous baseline knowledge of the law of armed conflict and are able to critically evaluate the adequacy of the existing law to historical and contemporary challenges. Students will be equipped to critically evaluate the law in concrete circumstances, taking into account the political, operational, and moral demands that bear on the use of military force.

The learning and teaching methods include:

The module will be delivered by eleven 2 hour lectures and six 1 hour tutorials. The lectures will include opportunities for student discussion and debate as oral presentation and argument is a critical skill in the legal profession.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.