• Offered by ANU College of Law
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr William Boothby
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Summer Session 2020
    See Future Offerings

When normal peacetime relations between States break down and they resort to the use of force, it is the law of armed conflict that determines which acts of hostility are lawful. The idea that law should regulate what is done in war may seem strange, but it is nowadays well accepted. Accordingly, the law determines which targets may be attacked and which classes of person and object must be protected. Some persons and objects are specially protected, and it is vitally important that all involved understand what these rules provide.

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that hostilities undertaken by members of the Australian Defence Force are conducted in accordance with applicable legal rules. Participants who have completed this course will be able to form an informed view of whether events, involving ADF personnel and otherwise, accord with the relevant law.

The other topic of similar importance comprises the principles and rules that determine which weapons and methods of warfare can lawfully be used during an armed conflict. Weapons law places important obligations on States, and the course will show how these can be complied with. The course will, in connection with targeting and weaponry, unpack and explain the principles on which these two elements of the law are based, and will then show how specific rules of conduct are based on those principles. 

The course will consist of a series of lectures that collectively cover the relevant topics. At suitable intervals during the course, the participants will go into workgroups in order to discuss and solve pre-set problems linked to the substance of the preceding lecture. The solutions of each work group are then presented in plenary and are discussed. The purpose of this approach is to reinforce understanding of each topic in turn.

An internationally renowned international humanitarian law and weapons law scholar who has written authoritative monographs on both subjects, Dr Bill Boothby, has kindly agreed to visit Australia to teach this course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Interpret and evaluate various international law rules that regulate the conduct of hostilities and that determine which weapons may lawfully be used in an armed conflict
  2. Critically analyse a range of hypothetical targeting and weapons law scenarios
  3. Critically analyse and evaluate international law issues arising from the conduct of hostilities and from the possession and use of weapons
  4. Plan and execute complex legal research in order to produce original scholarship exploring legal issues arising in the targeting and weapons law contexts

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. 1200 Word think piece (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Research essay 4,200 words maximum including footnotes (70) [LO 4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching, usually taught as an intensive. The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours.  

Click here for the LLM Masters Program timetable

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws in Migration (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses or five 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL). Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

Y Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict, Third Edition (2016) CUP


W H Boothby, Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict, Second Edition (2016) OUP

These texts are available at the Co-op Bookshop on campus. Contact the Co-op Bookshop by telephone (02 6249 6244) or on-line at http://www.coop-bookshop.com.au/.

Preliminary Reading

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1595 17 Feb 2020 17 Feb 2020 28 Feb 2020 02 Apr 2020 In Person View
1733 22 Feb 2020 22 Feb 2020 28 Feb 2020 07 Apr 2020 In Person View

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