Studying online

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Unit Overview


This unit explores the development and operation of international humanitarian law, which is the body of public international law that regulates conduct during armed conflict. The unit examines key issues relating to international humanitarian law and its application, enabling students to examine the historical and theoretical developments, sources, fundamental principles and objectives of the rules governing both international and internal armed conflicts. Topics include the constraints on means and methods of warfare; the protection of civilians and prisoners of war; means of enforcement of international humanitarian law, including criminal prosecution; and the relationship of the laws of armed conflict with international human rights law, and national law. The unit has a research focus, developing the independent research skills of students who explore a variety of primary and secondary materials in the field of international humanitarian law.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) demonstrate thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, its relationship with other branches of international law and its application in the real world; (2) critically engage with the theoretical debates underlying the principles of humanitarian law, use and critically examine theoretical material on international humanitarian law, and situate and critically evaluate political and cultural factors which influence the development and application of international humanitarian law; (3) develop and utilise a variety of primary and secondary sources and apply appropriate research methods to investigate research questions in international humanitarian law; (4) present orally and in writing well developed and critical arguments on issues relating to international humanitarian law and its application in the field; and (5) apply international humanitarian law to real world situations.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research essay; (2) film review; and (3) in-class participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Melanie O'Brien
Unit rules
Enrolment in
20810 Doctor of Juridical Science
Enrolment in
LAWS5220 International Humanitarian Law
Contact hours
Intensive period 2 - 9 August 2023. Refer to the timetable website for further information. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory and pre reading including recorded lectures must be completed before these dates.
Students must watch all the pre-recorded lecture videos and attend every day of the intensive face-to-face period.

Emily Crawford & Alison Perth, International Humanitarian Law (2nd edition, Cambridge, 2020).

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.