Law of Armed Conflict - LAWS8610

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Yutaka Arai checkmark-circle


The following topics may be covered:
• Introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL)
• Distinction between international armed conflict and non-international armed conflict;
• Legal criteria for assessing combatant and prisoners of war status, and 'unlawful combatants';
• Definition of civilians and the concept of direct participation in hostilities;
• Law of occupation;
• Rules on Means and Methods of Warfare;
• Protection of Environment during armed conflict;
• Protection of cultural property during armed conflict;
• Applicability of IHL to UN peacekeeping operations;
• The relationship between IHL and international human rights law.



Autumn Term

Method of assessment

An essay of 4000 -5000 words

Indicative reading

D. Fleck et al. (eds.), Handbook of International Humanitarian Law, 3rd ed., (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013) (paperback);
Other recommended textbooks:
R. Kolb and R. Hyde (eds), An Introduction to the International Law of Armed Conflicts, (Oxford: Hart, 2008).
G.D. Solis, The Law of Armed Conflict – International Humanitarian Law in War, (CUP, 2010).
D. Thürer, International Humanitarian Law: Theory, Practice, Context, Hague Academy of International Law, 2011, (Maubeuge, France, 2011).
Eric David, Principes de Droit des Conflits Armés, 5eme ed., (Brussels : Bruylant, 2012).
Robert Kolb, Ius in Bello – Le droit international des conflits armés, Précis, 2eme edition, (Basel/Brussels: Helbing Lichtenhahn/Bruylant, 2009).
Other books:
David Kennedy, Of War and Law, Princeton Univ. Press, (2006).
O. Ben-Naftali (ed), International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law– Pas de Deux, (OUP, 2011);
Alexander Gillespie, A History of Laws of War, (Oxford: Hart, 2011), Vols 1-3;
J.-M., Henckaerts & L. Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, Vols I-III, (CUP/ICRC, 2005)

Principal journals:
American Journal of International Law;
Criminal Law Forum;
European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
European Journal of International Law;
International Criminal Law Review;
International Review of the Red Cross;
Journal of Conflict and Security Law;
Journal of International Criminal Justice;
Military Law and Law of War Revue;
Military Law Review
Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law;

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes
- To demonstrate a critical understanding of the key concepts, principles and doctrines of international humanitarian law (IHL);
- To examine IHL in the context of evolving doctrinal and theoretical discourse;
- To apply critically the principles and theories of IHL to specific cases of contemporary concern or to controversial issues;
- To carry out independent research in diverse areas of IHL and to construct reasoned and critical arguments based on the concepts, principles and doctrines of IHL;

The intended generic learning outcomes
- To ascertain critically the operation of IHL in diverse situations of armed conflict (international or non-international) and occupation;
- To develop the techniques of legal reasoning in order to reach a considered judgment as to the correct legal outcome where the law is unclear or there are differences of interpretation;
- To inculcate a curious and questioning mind in regard to legal issues;
- To engage in critical legal reasoning and argument;
- To synthesize arguments derived from diverse sources and present a coherent explanatory framework.


Students are required to submit an essay of 4-5000 words that meet the outcomes.
The essay will evidence the students' level of appreciation and understanding of the principles, doctrines and theories of IHL.
Assessment of the essay is carried out in conformity to the assessment criteria of KLS. In this respect, above all, the essay will demonstrate the capacity of students to engage in critical and evaluative skills.
The module convenor will set a list of essay topics from which the students can choose or s/he may give them the opportunity to set their own essay topic after consultation and agreement with the module convenor. This provides students with an opportunity to cultivate their critical thinking, and to develop their independent research skills through their effort to identify and ascertain a specific research question that needs to be critically analysed.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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