LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT - 2025/6

Module code: LAW2099

Module Overview

Law 2099 examines the development of the law governing armed conflict and several of the most important legal issues surrounding the use of military force today. Through interactive seminars and workshop discussions, we will address 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 module examines the development and application of the law of armed conflict through the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, jurisprudence of international tribunals, and practice of states. Among the central questions we will consider are: When should international human rights law govern the use of military force? What particular legal issues arise in non-international armed conflicts? What law should govern counterterrorism operations? Law 2099 builds directly off of many Level 4 topics, including those addressed in Public Law 1, Criminal Law, and Tort Law, and also prepares students for further study in international law, human rights law, and law and technology.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

ANDRESEN Joshua (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 6

Independent Learning Hours: 50

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 50

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

Indicative topics and their more specific issues include:

Jus ad bellum (the law of going to war):


  • The historical right to go to war

  • The illegality of war and the UN Charter

  • The Security Council and international peace & security

  • The right of self-defence



Jus in bello (the regulation of military force in war):


  • The principles of necessity and humanity

  • Civilian Protections and the rules of:

    • Distinction

    • Proportionality

    • Precaution in Attack



  • Combatant privilege & loss of civilian protections

  • Prohibited weapons



Challenges and Contemporary Developments:


  • Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect (“R2P”)

  • Protecting Cultural Objects over Civilians?

  • The Syria Conflict

  • Applying International Human Rights Law to the uses of military force

  • Targeted Killing & Military Force in Counterterrorism Operations

  • Human Shield

  • War Crimes and Command Responsibility


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online 4 HOUR ONLINE EXAM 100

Alternative Assessment

None

Assessment Strategy

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


  • Knowledge of the law of armed conflict and and human rights law applicable in armed conflict

  • The ability to apply the law of armed conflict to specific cases of armed conflict

  • The ability to critically analyse domestic and international court cases

  • The ability to critically evaluate the relative application of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to actual scenarios

  • The ability to articulate the challenges and limits of applying international humanitarian law to counterterrorism operations

  • The ability to understand, explain, and critically engage key challenges to going to war and how to regulate military force once war has begun



 

  The summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • A 4 hour, 2500 word exam consisting of two parts. The first part is a response to a problem question in which students identify legal issues, apply the law to the facts, evaluate legal outcomes and reflect on any legal or moral shortcomings in the law as it stands today. The problem question mimics the legal questions and situations students will face in future legal employment and thus is great preparation for future employability, as well as global and cultural capabilities, sustainability, and resourcefulness and resilience given the topics the students are addressing and the need to do so on their own, with an understanding of diverse perspectives, and will an eye toward the law’s contribution to future peace and security.  The second part is a critical essay on a fundamental challenge in the law of armed conflict today. As with the problem question, the critical essay also prepares students in line with the four pillars just mentioned. For lawyers do not merely recite the law, but must also develop the skills to give legal advice to clients (whether public or private). Good advice requires an understanding of how the law is formed, what issues it is responding to, and what future directions it is, or should be, moving in.



  Formative assessment


  • The formative exam is modelled precisely on the summative so that students can “preview” the summative, better understand the nature of the assessment and what is expected of them, and practice the writing, analytic, and critical skills required for the formative. The formative thus also addresses the four pillars discussed above in the same way as the summative.



Additionally, students receive extensive feedback on their formatives both during class discussions in seminars and workshops, as well as in the written and oral feedback that students receive on a 1-to-1 basis. The feedback is designed to enable students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and maximize their resourcefulness and resilience to improve for the summative.

  

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
005 Understand, explain, and critically engage key challenges to going to war and how to regulate military force once war has begun KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Enable students to build a strong foundational understanding of the law of armed conflict and how to apply and analyse it in a range of contexts, including real life scenarios and domestic and international court cases.

  • Enable students independently to understand and reflect on the issues covered in the module and develop the ability to provide arguments in support of their considered views.

  • Enable students to defend their considered views by anticipating and preempting possible criticisms and possible objections from different backgrounds and perspectives during class discussions.

  • Engage students with different learning backgrounds and perspectives and maximize their learning by critically drawing out their own views and perspectives in class discussions.

  • Enable students to build on, develop links across, and critically engage material learned in the first-year of the curriculum, particularly from Public Law 1, Criminal Law, and Tort Law.



To achieve the above, the following learning and teaching methods will be used: seminars and workshops.

Seminars follow a broadly Socratic method, with visual aids where appropriate to break down the concepts being taught. Throughout the seminars, questions are posed to students in order to enable students to critically engage with the material, the views and arguments of their peers, and to develop their own independent views and arguments in response to them. Students will be practising many of the key skills that will boost their employability (through learning and practising clear and critical oral presentation and communication), global and cultural capabilities (through engaging with students with different backgrounds and perspectives and learning about and critically reflecting on the international engagements of western militaries around the world), sustainability (through reflective and critical analysis of how the law should be shaped today to assure a more peaceful future), and resourcefulness and resilience (through being challenged and nurtured to develop their own independent creative and critical perspective on many of the key challenges in international peace and security facing the world today).

Workshops will also follow a broadly Socratic method and serve to consolidate understanding of the material covered and discussed during the seminars. During the workshops, students will be encouraged to explain and defend their views confidently and professionally, and to defend and/or critically engage with others in an informed and constructive way. They will thus be given further opportunities to practice and consolidate the skills mentioned above

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

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW2099

Other information

As one of the level 5 optional modules for the law programs, the Law of Armed Conflict is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas

Employability

One of the hallmarks of being a good lawyer is the ability to make rigorous legally-informed arguments and to defend them both verbally and in writing. Building on the legal and critical skills that students began developing in Public Law 1, Criminal Law, and Tort Law, this module will further advance students’ abilities and competence in critical thinking and critical engagement by encouraging (though class discussions) and requiring (through assessments) students to explain clearly and critically evaluate a range of international legal materials and cases. Students will thereby practice and demonstrate the key legal professional skill: the ability to apply the law to the facts at hand in an accurate, rigorous, and critical manner. By the end of the module, student will be in the position to readily transfer their critical thinking and engagement skills both to other legal issues, as well as to non-legal issues that they may encounter during their employment.

Digital Capabilities

As with all modules, students are expected to engage with material online through effective navigation of the Surreylearn VLE and online legal databases provided by the University library. Students will use digital technology to prepare and submit their assessment and may use digital technology in aiding their preparations and presentations during the workshop sessions.

Global and Cultural Capabilities

The issues that are covered in this module will be explored from a variety of different perspectives during the lectures. We have a rather diverse background within our student body. Students will therefore be invited to bring in their own perspectives that are unique to their backgrounds to critically engage with the taught material. They will also be asked to engage with each other’s views critically but respectfully and to consider the limits of their own arguments, both during class discussions and in the assessment. Students will also be directly reflecting on and engaging the lived experience of people affected by armed conflict around the world (in Europe, as well as Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa). This will enable students to appreciate and carefully consider the different perspectives that different people from different background and cultures take towards the same issues and how limited their own perspectives can be. Requiring students to anticipate and preempt possible objections and criticisms also train students to think in others’ shoes, especially those who disagree with them.

Sustainability

This module is focused not only on the peace and security issues facing the world today, but challenges students to think about how to meet those needs in a way that will help assure peace and security also for future generations. We do this by looking at how the law has developed in the past and how the law can generate unintended consequences, particularly through short-sightedness of how states will interpret and apply the law moving forward. Students are thus challenged to reflect on and critically analyse today’s legal issues to assure a more peaceful future.

Resourcefulness and Resilience

There is no single obviously correct answer to many of the legal and security challenges covered in this module. While a strong foundation in the law is essential, the ultimate quality of one’s answer will depend as much or more on the quality of one’s arguments and defense. In that way, it is very similar to legal litigation in real life, where there are always at least two opposed sides arguing the opposite point on key legal questions. Students will learn to be resourceful in their argumentation in this module. Through critical engagement they will receive during class discussions, students will learn to be agile in their thinking and when constructing and defending their own arguments and clear and careful in their explanations of abstract concepts. They will learn to be reflective and self-aware of the limitations of their own perspectives through the critical discussions with others and by anticipating and preempting criticisms from others. To do well in this module, students must be proactive in engaging with the material on their own. Given the diverse opinions and views that can be brought to bear on the issues covered in this module, students will also learn how to regulate themselves properly during debates about contentious issues.  Finally, this module enables students to develop the resilience not only to argue for their view in an informed and sophisticated manner but also accept and properly respond to criticisms from those who disagree.

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 2025/6 academic year.