Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module LAWNEW: Law and Conflict (E2)

Department: Law

LAW42415: Law and Conflict (E2)

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the multiple interactions of law and conflict, before, during and after hostilities.
  • To broaden the study of conflict by identifying the legal issues presented by it, and the common critiques associated with those issues.
  • To deepen the study of conflict by analysing the extent to which law not only responds to but also shapes conflict - including the routes into, through, and out of it.
  • To study the dynamics of law and legal regulation through the lenses of defence, development and diplomacy as they apply to conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction.
  • To introduce the building blocks of public international law including treaties, custom, and the law of international institutions.
  • To identify and study the content of and relationship between different (international) legal regimes, including for example the jus ad bellum, the jus in bello, international human rights law, international refugee law, and national security and intelligence law.


  • This module aims to introduce students to the multiple interactions of law and conflict, before, during and after hostilities. Students will learn how to identify the applicable legal regimes, and to identify the legal issues arising from conflict. Indicative topics include the foundations of public international law; the law of international institutions; national security and intelligence law; the law governing the initiation of hostilities (the jus ad bellum); international humanitarian law (also known as the law of armed conflict (LOAC) or the jus in bello); international human rights law; and international refugee law.
  • Within these topics student will learn to identify associated critique within and beyond mainstream legal studies, including regarding the application of key principles such as the rule of law, the right to democracy, and transitional justice.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To identify the parameters of the overlapping legal regimes applicable to conflict;
  • To understand key legal principles pertaining to conflict, and contested areas within them;
  • To identify and explain, demonstrating interdisciplinary awareness, key approaches to studying law and conflict, from black-letter to socio-legal studies;
  • To situate law and legal studies within the wider context of conflict and conflict studies, and to look at law and legal regulation through the lenses of defence, development and diplomacy perspectives in the phases of conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction;
  • To apply a selection of conceptual and methodological tools acquired through the theoretical inputs and study of cases to practical situations.
  • To understand the methodologies used in law and legal studies in the context of conflict and their relationship to methodologies employed by other social sciences.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To locate and interpret key primary legal materials;
  • To identify, analyse and evaluate different academic approaches to law and conflict within the legal regimes identified;
  • To apply key legal principles to the evaluation of current and hypothetical local and global situations;
  • To engage in research projects at MA level in the subject of law and conflcit.
Key Skills:
  • To construct and synthesise arguments critically for both oral and written presentation from different sources of material, including material delivered orally and in reports and essays.
  • To demonstrate an independent approach to learning, thinking (self-)critically and creatively, and problem-solving;
  • To use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources;
  • To participate in and reflect on collaborative group work;
  • To formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English in an effective way, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing and written to high academic standards;
  • To demonstrate effective time management

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be delivered as a block in workshop format over a period of an evening and two full consecutive days, and will involve a mixture of lectures, short presentations, discussion and small group work, and a role play or oral presentation based on real or constructed cases.
  • Summative assessment will include a pre-workshop article review or role briefing, and a post-workshop module essay, report or policy document. Which pre- and in-workshop assessments are chosen is dependent on the module convener, so as to maximise flexibility for the interdisciplinary team delivering the programme. Which post-workshop assessment is selected is in the hands of students (in consultation with the module convener), so as to maximise flexibility with a view to the wide range of professional backgrounds and needs students attending the course are expected to have. The post-workshop assignment has to be directly linked to one of the themes discussed during the workshop. The pre-workshop assignment is designed to provide students with a focused task to prepare them, through self-guided learning, for the workshop’s discussions and/or role play, the knowledge, analytical pointers and literature advice for which will be provided through a virtual induction.
  • Formative assessment is intended to develop students' oral communication and academic writing skills, as well as effective time management. Students will receive continuing formative feedback in seminar and group discussions. They will receive formal formative feedback on their role play or oral presentation in a debriefing session after the event, in which students’ performances will be discussed in view of the learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 1 Term 1 or 2 2 days 18
Preparation and reading Term 1 or 2 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Role Brief or Article Review 1000 words 30%
Report or Module Essay or Policy Document 2500 words 70%

Formative Assessment:

Role play or oral presentations; continuing feedback in seminar and group discussions.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University