Skip to main content

Study information

International Law of Armed Conflict

Module titleInternational Law of Armed Conflict
Module codeLAWM097
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Aurel Sari (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will study the rules of international law governing the conduct of armed conflict. Warfare has been a constant feature of human history. In an attempt to limit its adverse effects on society, international law has developed a set of rules to regulate the conduct of hostilities during times of war. This area of the law is known as the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law.


This module will provide you with a detailed understanding of the core principles, concepts and rules of the law of armed conflict, focusing in particular on the rules governing land warfare. Although many of these rules are long-standing, recent developments in military technology and tactics—such as the emergence of cyber warfare, the practice of targeted killings or the use of unmanned weapons systems—have given rise to challenging questions concerning their applicability on contemporary battlefields, making this a particularly exciting time to study the subject.


Prior exposure to public international law is recommended, but is not essential to study this module. Students who have not studied public international law in the past are advised to undertake additional introductory reading and will be offered specific guidance.


Students enrolled on this module are members of the Exeter Centre for International Law and are expected to participate in relevant events of the Centre as part of this module.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this course is to provide you with a detailed understanding of the core concepts, principles and rules of the law of armed conflict, in particular those governing land warfare, and to introduce you to some of its contemporary challenges. In doing so, the course attempts to shed light on how the law of armed conflict seeks to balance considerations of military necessity and the inevitability of war on the one hand with humanitarian values and the need to limit human suffering on the other hand.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate detailed knowledge of the core concepts, principles and rules of the law of armed conflict with a particular emphasis on the rules applicable to land warfare;
  • 2. demonstrate critical understanding of the practical and conceptual challenges arising in the implementation of the law of armed conflict;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. demonstrate flexible and innovative ability to develop, apply and critically assess international legal arguments, using a wide range of appropriate primary materials and advanced scholarship;
  • 4. select, integrate, evaluate and present relevant law and complex legal arguments, clearly, autonomously and competently;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. manage relevant learning resources and complex information confidently and independently, and to develop own arguments and opinions at a very high level;
  • 6. communicate and engage in debate effectively and accurately;
  • 7. work independently, within a limited time frame, to complete a specified task.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover all or some of the following topics:


  • overview of the sources and development of the law of armed conflict
  • material, geographical and temporal scope of application
  • battlefield status and protection of persons
  • military objectives
  • means and methods of warfare
  • precautions in attack
  • detention during armed conflict.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity33Weekly seminars (11 x 3 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity3Attendance at relevant events organised by the Exeter Centre for International Law
Guided Independent Study194Assigned reading
Guided Independent Study 20Preparation of formative essay
Guided Independent Study 40Preparation of summative essay
Guided Independent Study 10Preparation of seminar presentation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1,000 words 1-7Individual feedback from the module convenor
Individual seminar presentation15 minutes1-7Individual and collective oral feedback from the module convenor and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502,000 words 1-7Written with percentage grade
Examination502 hours1-7Written with percentage grade

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayWritten essay (2,000 words)1-7August/September re-assessment period
ExaminationExamination (2 hours)1-7August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

D. Fleck (ed), The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts (3rd edn, 2013)

Y. Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (3rd edn, 2016)

E. Crawford and A. Pert, International Humanitarian Law (2nd edn, 2020)

G. D. Solis, The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law in War (2nd, 2016);

R. Kolb and R. Hyde, An Introduction to the International Law of Armed Conflicts (2008)

UK Ministry of Defence, The Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict (2004, OUP)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

International Committee of the Red Cross:

International Review of the Red Cross:

International Law Department, US Naval War College:

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia:

United Nations War Crimes Commission Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals (LRTWC):

Key words search

Law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, law of war, armed conflict, war, public international law

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date