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
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 20 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students
Prerequisites: 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 specialism: International Law
Practice Assessment: Students may write up tutorial questions and submit them for feedback as a form of formative assessment / exam practice.
Assessment method for LLM students: 3-hour unseen written examination
Module Overview

Module summary

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).

Module syllabus

1. Introduction to the course—1 hour seminar (repeated)

Part I (Jus ad Bellum)

2. From ‘Just War’ to the UN Charter Prohibition of the Use of Force (and back?)
3. Use of Force in Self‐Defence I: The Armed Attack
4. Use of Force in Self‐Defence II: Temporal Element
5. The ‘War on Terror’
6. Collective Action against Threats to the Peace I: Non‐forcible Measures
7. Collective Action against Threats to the Peace II: Enforcement Action & Judging the Security Council
8. Humanitarian Intervention (and R2P)
9. State (and individual?) responsibility for violations of the jus ad bellum
10. Revision

Part II (Jus in Bello)

11. Introduction to the Law of Armed Conflict: General Concepts and History
12. Classification of Armed Conflicts and Commencement/Termination of Hostilities
13. Status Based Rules: Combatants and PoWs
14. Rules Governing Hostilities I: Military Objectives and the Principle of Distinction
15. Rules Governing Hostilities II: Civilians and the Principle of Proportionality
16. Rules Governing Hostilities Cont’d
17. Non‐International Armed Conflicts
18. Weaponry
19. Individual Criminal Responsibility in War
20. Revision

Recommended materials

Because this module has two distinct parts, there are recommended materials for each part. The first textbook on the list for each part is preferred, but students remain free to choose.

PART I – The jus ad bellum

• Christine D Gray, International Law and the Use of Force (3d ed Oxford UP 2008)
• Yoram Dinstein, War, Aggression and Self-Defence (4th ed Cambridge UP 2005)
• Thomas M Franck, Recourse to Force in International Law (Cambridge UP 2002)

PART II – The jus in bello

• Robert Kolb and Richard Hyde, An Introduction to the International Law of Armed Conflicts (Oxford Hart 2008)
• Dieter Fleck (ed), The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (2d ed Oxford UP 2008)
• Leslie C Green, The Contemporary Law of Armed Conflict (3d ed Manchester UP 2008)
• Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (2d ed Cambridge UP 2010)

Students should also have to hand the UN Charter, and the useful collections of materials in Malcolm D Evans (ed) Blackstone’s International Law Documents (9th ed Oxford UP 2009) and, if they wish, Adam Roberts and Robert Guelff (eds) Documents on the Laws of War (3d ed Oxford UP 2000)

Preliminary reading

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, and are also advised to peruse some of the recommended materials and read the introductory chapters. 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.

Other information: N/A
Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now open.

Please refer to the How to apply section for information on the application process.