University of Surrey - Guildford

Registry > Module Catalogue
View Module List by A.O.U. and Level  Alphabetical Module Code List  Alphabetical Module Title List  Alphabetical Old Short Name List  View Menu 
2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAWM074 Module Title: LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAWM074
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: RAUXLOH RE Dr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)


Exam (3000 word assignment)






Qualifying Condition(s) 


Overall mark of 50%


Module Overview

This module is an advanced level course on the principles of public international law which regulate the use of force in international society. The course examines both the law relating to when it is permissible to use force (The Jus ad bellum) and the law governing the conduct of hostilities once the decision to resort to force has been taken (International Humanitarian Law).


Module Aims

The module encourages the development of a critical perspective on the matters relating to the customary and treaty laws which prohibit or authorize the use of force in international relations and to develop and analytical framework concerning the institutional structures which attempt to regulate both the initiation of armed conflict and the conduct of armed forces involved in military operations. 


Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module the student will be able:


·        to develop an understanding of the core principles of the international law on international intervention, the use of force, peace operations and international humanitarian law;


·        to understand the relationship of these rules to the general rules of public international law;


·        to be able to critically evaluate the rules, policies and principles on when it is permissible to use force and the laws governing the conduct of hostilities;


·        to understand the institutional structure regulating the use of force including international courts and tribunals;


·        to be able to identify and attempt to resolve legal problems relating to the use of force in international relations.


Module Content

The first half of the course is devoted to the law on resort to force.


1.      The Prohibition on the Use of Force in customary international law


2.      Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter


3.      Self-defence in international law


4.      Humanitarian Intervention as a justification for the use of force


5.      Other disputed unilateral uses of force: Rescue of nationals, intervention to promote democracy, reprisals and intervention in civil wars


6.      Collective Security: Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter



The second half of the course is concerned with the legal regulation of the conduct of hostilities.



7.      The concept of war and armed conflict


8.      The right to participate in armed hostilities.


9.      The law of weaponry


10.   The protection of civilians


11.    Belligerent occupation


12.    Naval Warfare


13.    Enforcement of the Laws of War 


Methods of Teaching/Learning
Teaching will follow a dual approach. In every session the lecturer will give some pointers highlighting the main issues that must be studied. This will be followed by a discussion with the students on the reading. Some questions will be given out by the lecturer to guide the discussion. Learning will be achieved not only by preparing the lectures but by some parallel activities that will foster the interest of the students for the topic. The students after the first couple of classes will give presentations on various topics in the law of armed conflict.
Selected Texts/Journals




Required texts:


C. Gray, International Law and the Use of Force 2nd edition (Oxford University Press, 2004)


Y. Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict ( Cambridge University Press, 2004)



Highly Recommended


Y. Dinstein, War, Aggression and Self-defence 4th edition, (Cambridge University Press, 2005)


Roberts and Guelff (eds), Documents on the Laws of War ( Oxford , 3rd ed., 2000). 



Recommended Monographs and Collected Editions:


S.A. Alexandrov, Self-defense against the use of force in international law (Kluwer International Law 1996)


S. Breau, Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations and Collective Responsibility, (Cameron May 2006)


S. Breau and E. Wilmshurst (eds), Perspectives on the ICRC Customary Law Study (Cambridge University Press, 2007)


A, Cassese ed., The Current Legal Regulation on the Use of Force, (Martinus Nijhoff, 1986)


D. Fleck (ed) The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict, (Oxford University Press, 1995 – new 2nd edition coming out 2008)


T. Franck, Recourse to Force: State Action Against Threats and Armed Attacks ( Cambridge University Press, 2002)


L. Green, The Contemporary Law of Armed Conflict, 2nd edition, (Manchester University Press, 1999)


C. Greenwood, Essays on War in International Law, (Cameron May 2007)


A. Rogers, Law on the Battlefield 2nd ed., ( Manchester University Press, 2004)


Ministry of Defence, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, ( Oxford University Press, 2004)



Reference texts:


ICRC. Customary International Humanitarian Law, 3 volumes, (Cambridge University Press, 2005)






Journal of Conflict and Security Law


International Review of the Red Cross


American Journal of International Law


European Journal of International Law


Last Updated