• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr William Boothby
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Summer Session 2023
    Winter Session 2023
    See Future Offerings

Anyone who thought that the end of the Cold War would bring about a period of global peace and stability has suffered a series of rude awakenings throughout the intervening period. There have been, and continue to be, wars between states, civil wars within states and terrorist outrages that have shaken the very foundations of the nation state. Modern conflict is characterised by new weapons, new technologies, new environments in which to fight and new kinds of participants in the hostilities. The emerging, increasingly fragmented and rapidly changing notion of conflict challenges, and is challenged by, a body of international law that seems to have difficulty in adapting to these new developments.


This course will tackle the most pressing and controversial contemporary issues by looking at the problems that are posed, by considering the legal arrangements that are currently in place and by assessing whether these arrangements are adequate. The topics have been selected to enable students to grapple with important matters of international concern that are currently challenging policy makers, jurists, academics and others at the highest levels. The aim is to introduce students to strategic level decision-making with all its complexities and ambiguities.


The course is structured into ten lectures, taking a distinct topic within each lecture. In the associated seminars, course members will work through practical problems in sub-groups thereafter presenting and discussing their proposed solutions in the plenary setting. Some background understanding of international law as it affects conflict would be a desirable advantage, but the course can and will be taught on the basis of no prior knowledge.


The intended learning outcomes include the ability to think, discuss and formulate solutions at the strategic level, an understanding of the challenges posed by conflict in all its forms, an appreciation of the interaction of not always consistent regimes of international law and a recognition of the issues that arise from emerging technologies and ways of pursuing conflict goals.


Students undertaking this course are unlikely to see the world in quite the same light as they did before doing so.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Investigate and critically assess the changing approach to the conduct of hostilities and how it affects, and is affected by, international law.
  2. Critically reflect on the implications of how technological developments are likely to contribute to changes in the way wars are fought and the legal arrangements that determine which of these technologies will, and will not, be legally acceptable.
  3. Examine and assess the changing role of people in modern conflict and evaluate how the law impacts on such developments.
  4. Review and reflect upon contemporary approaches to targeting law and assess the implications of these for adherence to, and the viability of, the principle of distinction.
  5. Explore and analyse how the developing media and the law impose constraints on the ability of Commanders to operate effectively in the modern battlespace.
  6. Research and evaluate contemporary issues through critical analysis and develop proposed solutions via law and policy.

Indicative Assessment

  1. IA-1 Two 750-word blog posts (1500 words) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  2. IA-2 End of course think piece (1500 words)
    (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  3. IA-3 Research essay (3000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  4. IA-4 Multiple choice test (90 minutes) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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 24 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.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a; Master of Laws (MLLM) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; or Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; or Graduate Certificate of New Technologies Law (CNTL); or Juris Doctor (MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; or Master of International Law & Diplomacy (MINLD) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions. 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 code.

Prescribed Texts

W H Boothby, Conflict Law, 2014, TMC Asser Press ISBN 978-94-6265-001-5; 978-94-6265-002-2 (eBook).

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.  

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
2023 $4860
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $6180
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.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1553 23 Jan 2023 24 Jan 2023 03 Feb 2023 09 Mar 2023 Online View

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4569 18 Sep 2023 19 Sep 2023 29 Sep 2023 02 Nov 2023 Online View

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