LW7143 - International Law and Armed Conflict

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about international law as a response to armed conflict – meaning both the law governing the use of force (the jus ad bellum) and concerning the conduct of hostilities (the jus in bello or international humanitarian law (IHL)). This will inform your understanding of what is meant by a ‘war crime’, and how individual criminal responsibility can arise during armed conflict and cases of belligerent occupation. The module will also provide you with an introduction to the practice of modern international humanitarian law and its procedural elements.

Outline of seminar topics:
1. International Law and Armed Conflict: Key Themes
2. The Use of Force (I): Self-defence
3. The Use of Force (II): the Security Council
4. The Use of Force (III): Humanitarian intervention and the ‘responsibility to protect’
5. The Use of Force (IV): The crime of aggression
6. IHL and international armed conflict
7. IHL and non-international armed conflict
8. Combatant status
9. The law of belligerent occupation
10. IHL and the law of targeting
11. IHL and International Criminal Law
12. Rights and obligations of non-state actors under IHL

How will I learn on this module?

You will receive a mixture of lectures and seminars. Lectures introduce core principles and themes, and elucidate particular areas of difficulty or confusion. Seminars provide the opportunity to discuss the principles and themes in context, and to gain insights from the tutor and other students. Lectures and seminars are linked, so that each lecture functions as an initial presentation of key concepts which are then developed more fully in seminar reading and discussion. You will also learn through independent study and reading, guided by readings lists and material on the eLP.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

As is always the case, the primary method of support for your learning is the knowledge of the staff who teach on the module, all of whom have extensive academic and practical experience in the field of international law and have published on the topic in the most important law journals in the world, and all of whom are available to help you with difficulties in understanding. In addition to this, a number of supplementary measures are also available. All lectures will be recorded and made available online to you to aid for repeated listening. The module will also make use of the eLearning site (Blackboard Ultra), where lecture materials, online reading lists, podcasts, and other learning support materials will be made available. The module site will also direct you to supplementary resources which you are encouraged to explore in addition to the material covered in lectures and workshops. There are also regular opportunities for you to receive feedback on your work in order to improve.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the module you should be able to:

You will know the key principles and expert knowledge of the law relating to international law and its response to armed conflict

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• You will be able to analyse and apply your knowledge to complex legal and policy issues relating to international law (both criminal and humanitarian) and armed conflice.

• You will be able to critically evaluate source material, suggest alternative approaches to armed conflict protections and its application in practice and reflect on the application of your knowledge and that of others within practical real-world contexts.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• You will enhance your global awareness and develop an ability to conduct rigorous legal research relevant to global examples of armed conflict.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment
There will be opportunities to practice problem scenario technique in most of the seminars.

Summative assessment
A 3000-word analysis of a scenario in which you will provide a ‘brief’.

Assessment Criteria and Grade-Related Criteria will be made available to you to support you in completing assessments. Grade-Related Descriptors are descriptions of the level of skills, knowledge and/or attributes that you need to demonstrate in order achieve a certain grade or mark in an assessment, providing a mechanism by which the quality of an assessment can be measured and placed within the overall set of marks.





Module abstract

This module concerns the role of law in decisions to make war, and in the conduct of hostilities. As such, it surveys the international law concerning both the use of force (meaning when it is lawful to resort to armed conflict) and international humanitarian law (meaning what is lawful to do once armed conflict begins). Its emphasis is on modern practical examples and case studies, such as the 2018 missile strikes against Syria, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the occupation of Palestine, the Donbass War, and the ‘War on Terror’, with the aim being to allow you to understand how key concepts (such as self-defence, proportionality, and combatant status) are utilised in practice. Ultimately, you will gain an understanding of how international law attempts to prevent armed conflict, to ensure that conflict is carried out with the minimum level of harm to civilian life, and to attribute responsibility for breach.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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