• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Sarah Heathcote
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Autumn Session 2021
    See Future Offerings

The purpose of the course is to examine the far-reaching changes that have occurred since the nineteenth century to the body of law governing recourse to the use of force (jus ad bellum). In 1945 the United Nations Charter prohibited States from resolving their international disputes by the threat or use of force except, subject to certain conditions, in self-defence, and established a system of collective security whereby the Security Council would take action in the name of the international community to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Cold War obstructed the effective realisation of these provisions. As a result of Security Council paralysis and in order to protect perceived essential national interests, some States adopted expansive concepts of self-defence or other justifications for recourse to force of doubtful legality.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to a renewal of hopes that a system of collective security might function as originally intended. Those hopes have not been entirely fulfilled, but the concept of international peace and security has been expanded in the last few decades to embrace violations of human rights, denial of democracy, and urgent humanitarian needs, thus justifying collective action under Security Council mandates.

The course will not revisit in any great detail the normative content of self-defence, both individual and collective (in this regard students are encouraged to revise their LAWS8183 Advanced Principles of International Law materials), but will examine other contentious or sometimes overlooked issues: such as implied authorisations and intervention by invitation. More traditional topics, such as the doctrine of humanitarian intervention and the idea of a responsibility to protect (R2P) will also be considered.

Topics may include:

  • The history of the jus ad bellum: from the "Just War" theory to the United Nations Charter;
  • The scope of the prohibition: can it cover cybercrime? What is a threat? Who are the addressees of the prohibition?
  • Military intervention by invitation;
  • Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and so called implied 'authorisations' to use force;
  • The role of regional arrangements in the use of force;
  • Humanitarian intervention and the 'Responsibility to Protect'.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the legal principles and rules governing the resort to force, including in the more specialised and often overlooked aspects of the topic;
  2. Explain through structured, succinct and precise analysis of particular cases and situations how the law is applied or misapplied in practice, including regional practice;
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with the legal arguments and techniques used to stretch the limits of the law governing the use of force; and
  4. Plan and execute complex legal research with independence in order to produce original scholarship.

Indicative Assessment

  1. A quiz (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. A research essay (4,000 words) (60) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). 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. Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week.

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 (MLLM), Master of International Law and Diplomacy (MINLD), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP); OR Juris Doctor (MJD), have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2250/LAWS6250 International Law; 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

There is no prescribed text for this course however the purchase of the following textbook is highly recommended:

  • Olivier Corten The Law Against War, Hart Publishing, 2010;

Preliminary Reading

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

An e-brick will be available on the Wattle course site.

Assumed Knowledge

Principles of International Law LAWS8182 and Advanced Principles of International Law LAWS8183 is assumed knowledge.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2021 $4410
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3544 06 Apr 2021 06 Apr 2021 16 Apr 2021 21 May 2021 Online View

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