• Class Number 1733
  • Term Code 3020
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr William Boothby
    • Dr William Boothby
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2020
  • Class End Date 07/04/2020
  • Census Date 28/02/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 22/02/2020
SELT Survey Results

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

Additional Course Costs

This course is an intensive course taught at the ANU Acton Campus in Canberra. Students will need to cover costs associated with travel, accommodation, meals etc, if attending from out of state.

Required Resources

The prescribed texts for this course are:

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

A list of additional materials will be available on Wattle to provide students with a list of texts from which to choose their own preferred additional reading and to assist with research.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Task submission times refer to Canberra time (AEST/AEDT).

Extensions late submission and penalties: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/extensions-late-submission-and-penalties

Deferred examination: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/deferred-examinations

Special consideration: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Penalties for excess word length: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties

Further Information about the course: is available from the course WATTLE page. Students are required to access the WATTLE site regularly throughout the course for any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Placing targeting law and weapons law in the context of international law as a whole – part of law of armed conflict – treaty law and customary law - principles and rules, Principles of targeting law – API art. 35(1), distinction, Lawful targets – military objectives, combatants, directly participating civilians – customary law and the law under API, The idea of protection - Civilian objects, civilians and the doubt rules, Indiscriminate attacks, API, article 51(4) and (5), Precautions in attack and against the effects of attacks.
2 Prohibited methods of warfare, Persons and objects entitled to special protection, Targeting law applicable to NIACs, Targeting law and new technologies, Targeting law in novel environments, Targeting law and the natural environment, Targeting offences under international criminal law.
3 Distinguishing targeting law from weapons law, meaning of terms – means and methods, Superfluous injury and indiscriminate weapons principles, Environmental protection rules, Rules on bullets, Rules on poisons, chemical and biological weapons, Conventional Weapons Convention, Mines, booby-traps and other devices.
4 Cluster munitions and nuclear weapons, Maritime and outer space weapons, Unexploded and abandoned weapons, Weapons law in relation to a NIAC, Compliance with weapons law, Weapon reviews, End of course exercise.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Class Participation 10 % 25/02/2020 03/03/2020 1, 2, 3
Think Piece 20 % 25/02/2020 03/03/2020 1, 2, 3
Research essay 70 % 30/03/2020 06/04/2020 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


For all courses taught face-to-face in intensive mode, the ANU College of Law considers participation in the classes offered to be an important part of the educational experience of the graduate program and students are required to attend ALL classes (and all of each class).

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be granted permission by the Course Convenor, in consultation with the Stream Convenor or Director, LLM Program, to miss some classes, provided:

a.      it does not exceed a maximum of 25% of the classes;

b.      permission is requested in advance; and

c.       the request is supported, where appropriate, by adequate documentation.

Failure to comply with this policy may result in a student receiving the grade of NCN (non-complete fail). The normal pressures of work or planned personal trips do not constitute exceptional circumstances to justify an exemption from full compliance of this policy.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 25/02/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Class Participation

Format: Student presents in class the solution to a problem discussed in a work group. The preparation of speaking notes and the presentation of the solution to the problem requires the student to have understood the material presented during the lecture, to be able to apply that material in a practical way, and to be able to articulate the preferred solution and to justify that solution.

Assessment Criteria:

  • Ability to explain the solution clearly
  • Understanding of the problem; Understanding of the applicable law
  • Recognition of whether there are alternative approaches to the problem
  • Willingness to mention other solutions discussed within the group with which speaker may not agree.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/02/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Think Piece

Format: student produces a think-piece of no more than 1,200 words including footnotes addressing a topic in the course that particularly interested the student. The think-piece must be submitted on the final day of the course and is not intended to be a fully mature and researched piece. The task is compulsory and failure to complete it will result in a mark of 0 for the course.

Relationship between the Assessment Task and the Course Objectives: The think-piece demonstrates that the student has considered the material that has been taught, has developed a response on a specific issue and is able to articulate that response promptly.

Approval of Topic: The student chooses the topic.

Length: 1200 word maximum including footnotes

Due: 1600, Tuesday 25 February 2020. No extensions are permitted for this task.

Submission: Task must be submitted to both a Turnitin and Wattle link on the course Wattle site.

Assessment Criteria:

Ability to explain clearly the issue under targeting and/or weapons law that is being discussed, to discuss the issue briefly and to put forward clearly the student’s responses/thoughts about the issues raised.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 70 %
Due Date: 30/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 06/04/2020
Learning Outcomes: 4

Research essay

Relationship between the Assessment Task and the Course Objectives: The Research Essay gives the student the opportunity to address a specific topic in some depth, to show that he/she has absorbed the taught material relating to that topic, to show that he/she has researched a range of approaches to that topic and is able to discuss them, to show that he/she can analyse a problem effectively and reach sustainable solutions expressed with clarity.

Approval of Topic: choice from a listing that will be available on the first day of the course.

Length: 4200 words including footnotes

Due: 1600, Monday 30 March 2020. Students are encouraged to seek an extension if they are unexpectedly unable to submit on time. Late submission without an extension will be accepted but will attract penalties in accordance with ANU Law School policy.

Submission: Task must be submitted to both a Turnitin and Wattle link on the course Wattle site.

Assessment Criteria:

a.     Understanding of the Issues

  • addresses the question and covers the salient, relevant and important points;
  • evidence of close consideration of the question and the research materials drawn on;
  • issues raised by the topic are clearly and concisely identified;
  • material chosen relates clearly to the topic and is analysed not just summarised or quoted extensively;

 b.     Communication and Development of Argument

  • shows a clear theme or argument;
  • argument(s) logical and well-organised;
  • ideas/paragraphs linked coherently; 

 c.      Argument/Analysis

  • originality of ideas and critical analysis of the material;
  • complexity and insight in dealing with theory/ideas;
  • suggestions for change where appropriate;
  • interdisciplinary perspective where appropriate;
  • addressing opposing arguments;
  • well-reasoned conclusions;

 d.     Research

  • research covering primary and secondary materials;
  • good organisation of sources and ability to synthesise all the research materials used;
  • use of theoretical material where appropriate;
  • range of research sources;
  • integration of material from research resources into the essay.

 e.     Presentation, style and referencing

  • good use of structure, section headings and paragraphs;
  • clarity and conciseness of expression, content is interesting and engaging of reader;
  • use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling;
  • full and accurate footnotes together with a bibliography;
  • style according to Australian Guide to Legal Citation where appropriate;
  • adherence to word limit.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr William Boothby

Research Interests

Air Commodore Bill Boothby (Retd) served for 30 years in the Royal Air Force Legal Branch, retiring as Deputy Director of Legal Services in July 2011. In 2009 he took a Doctorate at the Europa Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany and published ‘Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict’ through OUP in the same year. His second book, ‘The Law of Targeting’, appeared with the same publisher in 2012. He has been a member of Groups of Experts that addressed Direct Participation in Hostilities, that produced the HPCR Manual of the Law of Air and Missile Warfare and that produced the Tallinn Manual on the Law of Cyber Warfare. His third book, addressing Conflict Law, was published in 2014; the second edition of Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict was published in March 2016. In 2018 he has published, with Professor W Heintschel von Heinegg, a Commentary on the US DoD Law of War Manual and has produced an edited volume on New Technologies and the Law in War and Peace. He teaches at the University of Southern Denmark and at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. He lectures and speaks widely on international law issues.

Dr William Boothby

By Appointment
Dr William Boothby
+61 2 6125 3483

Research Interests

Dr William Boothby

By Appointment

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