LAWSG056A Use of Force in International Law

Credit value: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS, 150 learning hours)
Convenor: Chris O’Meara
Other Teachers: None
Teaching Delivery: 10 x 2-hour weekly lectures, Term One
Who may enrol: LLM students only
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in International Law
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Students may submit an answer to a past exam question to obtain feedback
Final Assessment: One 2-hour unseen written examination (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

This module surveys the regulation of the use of force in international law (the jus ad bellum). It covers the regulation of recourse to force between States, and focuses principally on the United Nations Charter and subsequent developments. We will begin with a broad strokes historical overview, and then consider self-defence, the ‘war on terror’, enforcement measures taken by the UN, unilateral recourses to force and their legality, as well as ‘humanitarian’ intervention.

Module syllabus:

  • From ‘Just War’ to the UN Charter Prohibition of the Use of Force (and back?)
  • Use of Force in Self‐Defence I: The Armed Attack
  • Use of Force in Self‐Defence II: Temporal Element
  • The ‘War on Terror’
  • Collective Action against Threats to the Peace I: Non‐forcible Measures
  • Collective Action against Threats to the Peace II: Enforcement Action & Judging the Security Council
  • Humanitarian Intervention (and R2P)
Recommended materials:

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading:

Students who have not taken any general module in Public International Law before are strongly advised to read a general textbook in advance of commencing the course. A concise and elegant textbook is Vaughan Lowe, International Law (Oxford UP 2007).

Other students may wish to a look at relevant entries in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford UP, available online [subscription or institutional access required] at