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LAW8706 International Humanitarian Law

Semester 3, 2020 Online
Short Description: International Humanitarian Law
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : Band 3
ASCED code : 090909 - International Law
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 4 December 2020


Examiner: Pauline Collins


Pre-requisite: (LAW5111 and LAW5112) or Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: LLBH or LLMC

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at


As the world faces an intense period of conflicts, both recent International and ongoing non-international, the Four Geneva Conventions (GC) and the two Additional Protocols (AP) have been made to work hard. IHL has three golden principles of proportionality, precaution and distinction and definitions such as combatants, civilians and so on that provide an excellent base for learning to reason in a legal manner and apply relevant rules. An added distinction is IHL is an area where the written rules of the GC and AP are unchanging such that the GC are now taken to be customary law. However, the daily circumstances to which they apply are fluid, regularly presenting new challenges in their application. Students will gain vital training in legal reasoning, choosing and developing well-reasoned and researched arguments with an ability to write at a higher order level in order to promote and persuade others in their reasoned arguments. The course will give students grounding in legal thinking and the application of legal mechanisms to one of the most contentious areas of human activity, namely war. It will enable students to undertake a significant piece of research as well as providing opportunities to explore the resolution of particular legal problems in the area of international law, and in particular International Humanitarian Law. The GC place an obligation on the High Contracting parties to ensure the dissemination of knowledge of the Conventions. This course achieves this.


It is important for those acquiring the skills of lawyers to understand that the law is part of the social fabric and reflects the views and values not only of the society in which it operates but the wider international community. This course is aimed to introduce students to international obligations and their application domestically in relation to armed conflicts. Consideration of core fundamental principles such as distinction, humanity, proportionality and military necessity will be addressed. A comparative element between Australia and other jurisdictions such as the US and UK will occur.

Students outcomes will deliver the skills necessary to discuss and debate through written communication the key legal concepts that relate to legal principles surrounding both `jus ad bellum': the legal constraints on going to war, and `jus in bello': the limits imposed by law once armed conflict exists. Students will achieve practical skills in producing research and a potential outcome will be delivery of a publishable journal article and a keen understanding of the research process.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. application of an emerging knowledge of:
    1. the underlying principles, concepts and broader contexts for and of the topics considered in this course by critically analysing the relevant law in its application to factual scenarios in written communication
    2. the law of IHL and apply critical legal reasoning and research skills in a creative and appropriate response to the topics considered in this course;
  2. legal thinking skills, understanding of legal mechanisms by identifying and articulating principles and issues; use of appropriate legal and other materials; application of legal reasoning to engage in critical analysis; and
  3. effective, appropriate and persuasive communication skills by producing a well researched publishable quality journal article.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Development, sources and objectives of international humanitarian law 20.00
2. Conduct of Hostilities (Jus ad bellum) and Means and Methods of War (Jus in bello) 30.00
3. Compliance and Enforcement 20.00
4. Special Issues 30.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Metzer, N, International Humanitarian Law a Comprehensive Introduction. The entire book can be downloaded as a PDF.
Sassòli, M, Bouvier, A, Quintin, A, How does law protect in war, vol 1. All three volumes of the case book can be downloaded as a PDF.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
These will be advised via the StudyDesk.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 53.00
Directed Study 12.00
Private Study 100.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE STUDY RESPONSE 35 35 14 Dec 2020
PEER REVIEW 15 15 01 Jan 2021
JOURNAL ARTICLE 50 50 18 Jan 2021

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Referencing in assignments:
    Students studying this course must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. For AGLC style guide enquiries, consult the AGLC manual from the USQ Library's referencing guide at, or contact the Law librarian.

Date printed 4 December 2020