LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor: Dr Kimberley Trapp Other Teachers: N/A


This module surveys the regulation of the use of force in international law. It is structured in two parts, the first of which (056A) deals with recourse to force in international law, or the jus ad bellum. This first part covers the regulation of recourse to force between States, and focuses principally on the United Nations Charter and subsequent developments. We will begin with a broad strokes historical overview, and then consider self-defence, the ‘war on terror’, enforcement measures taken by the UN, unilateral recourses to force and their legality, as well as ‘humanitarian’ intervention.

The second part of the module (056B) deals with the law that is applicable during an armed conflict, or the jus in bello (often referred to as ‘International Humanitarian Law’). We will explore the distinction between international/non-international armed conflicts; combatants/civilians/‘unlawful combatants’; and military and civilian objectives; and consider the applicability/application of weapons regimes (for example the Non-Proliferation Treaty).


Part I (Jus ad Bellum)

  • From ‘Just War’ to the UN Charter Prohibition of the Use of Force (and back?)
  • Use of Force in Self-Defence I: The Armed Attack
  • Use of Force in Self-Defence II: Temporal Element
  • The ‘War on Terror’
  • Collective Action against Threats to the Peace I: Non-forcible Measures
  • Collective Action against Threats to the Peace II: Enforcement Action & Judging the Security Council
  • Humanitarian Intervention (and R2P)
  • State (and individual?) responsibility for violations of the jus ad bellum

Part II (Jus in Bello)

  • Introduction to the Law of Armed Conflict: General Concepts and History
  • Classification of Armed Conflicts and Commencement/Termination of Hostilities
  • Status Based Rules: Combatants and PoWs
  • Rules Governing Hostilities I: Military Objectives and the Principle of Distinction
  • Rules Governing Hostilities II: Civilians and the Principle of Proportionality
  • Non-International Armed Conflicts
  • Weaponry
  • Protection of cultural property in Armed Conflict

Background Reading (optional):

Students who have not taken any general module in Public International Law before are strongly advised to read a general textbook in advance of commencing the course. A concise and elegant textbook is Vaughan Lowe, International Law (Oxford UP 2007).

Other students who wish to read in advance can also consult Lowe, above, Chapters 3 and 8. A perusal of the Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, issued by the UK Ministry of Defence and published by Oxford UP (2004) is also highly interesting and will give students a flavour of the practice of the law of armed conflict.

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: Medium – 16-50 students
Who may enrol: LLM students
Prerequisities: None

Barred module combinations:

This module cannot be taken with its components:
War Law I: Recourse to Force in International Law - LAWSG056A
War Law II: International Law of Armed Conflict - LAWSG056B

Core Module for LLM specialism: International Law
Final Assessment: 3-hour unseen written examination
Practice Assessment: Students may write up past exam questions and submit them for feedback as a form of formative assessment / exam practice.

This page was last updated on 8 July, 2014


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.