Faculty of Law

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

print version

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedClayton Second semester 2014 (Day)


The unit will provide an introduction to the international laws of armed conflict (LOAC), known also as International Humanitarian Law. It will cover the historical development and sources of LOAC, the moral dilemma created by the regulation of armed conflict and how armed conflict has come to be regulated: e.g. the fundamental principles applicable to the conduct of armed conflict, the permissible methods and means of armed conflict, the protection regime under the Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols and the developing body of customary international law, the distinction between combatants and civilians, treatment of prisoners of war (particularly in light of recent events at Guantanamo Bay). It will also cover the imbalance of protection between international and non-international armed conflict.


Upon completion of this unit, students should:

  1. have developed a strong understanding of the sources of the LOAC, rooted in international law;
  2. to understand the law of jus ad bellum, that is when the use of force itself (or war) is lawful and when it is unlawful in international law;
  3. understand the important historical roots of war and the LOAC and how it impacts upon the modern protection regime;
  4. be able to critically discuss the moral dilemmas underpinning the regulation of war in the human rights era and assess the relative roles of the LOAC and human rights;
  5. be able to critically assess the complex protection regime relating to civilians, combatants, prisoners of war and others in the conduct of armed conflict;
  6. be able to critically assess the differences in the regulatory regime between international and non-international armed conflict;
  7. be able to critically assess the way LOAC is enforced, including through international 'war crimes' tribunals and the permanent International Criminal Court;
  8. be able to understand, evaluate and apply policy arguments for and against reform of the legal protection afforded during international and non-international armed conflicts;
  9. appreciate of current challenges to and debates surrounding LOAC;
  10. be able to identify or find the relevant principles, laws and precedents and apply them to resolve issues relating to LOAC.


Final exam 2.5 hours (plus 30 minutes reading and noting time): 100% OR optional essay 2000 words: 40% AND final exam 2 hours (plus 30 minutes reading and noting time): 60%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

Three hours of lectures per week


LAW1100 or LAW1101 and LAW1102 or LAW1104