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Some argue that war, of all human activity, is no place for law; any notion that law might regulate military conduct is naive and deluded. Although egregious violations of the law are common, international criminal courts and tribunals hold some of those most responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to account. This has led to a surge in awareness of International Humanitarian Law and, some would argue, increased respect for this body of law. This unit explores the development and operation of two dynamic and interacting bodies of international law - international criminal and international humanitarian law.

International Humanitarian Law (also known as the Law of War or the Law of Armed Conflict) is the body of international law which regulates the conduct of military hostilities - distinguishing between combatants and civilians, imposing limits on the targeting of military objectives, prohibiting the use of particular weapons and establishing minimum standards of treatment for prisoners of war and civilians affected by armed conflict.

You will consider the historical development of International Humanitarian Law, its substantive rules, and its efficacy as a tempering influence on human suffering in armed conflict. You will also explore the contribution that International Criminal Law is making to increased awareness of and respect for the law, particularly through the conduct of war crimes trials.

Summary 2021

Unit name Law of Armed Conflict and International Criminal Law
Unit code LAW277
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Law
Discipline Law

Professor Tim McCormack

Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and explain the core features of the broad topic areas of International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law and how those two bodies of international law intersect.
  2. Identify, conceptualise and research International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law problems and issues.
  3. Contexutalise International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law in the broader policy, diplomatic, military and political contexts in which these bodies of law operate.
  4. Evaluate the efficacy of existing International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law, identify major challenges to both legal regimes, and assess options for law reform,




50 credit points of Introductory units.

It is recommended you have completed LAW102.

Mutual Exclusions

You cannot enrol in this unit as well as the following:

LAW623 and LAW677


Teaching Pattern

Lecture (3 hours x 10 times)


Task 1: Take home Exam: Individual Examination, (formative & summative), 2500 words (50%)

Task 2: Group Work Written Critique, 750 words (20%)

Task 3: Individual Research essay, 2000 words (30%)

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



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