Course Syllabus


Semester & Location:

Summer 2021, Session 2 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

International Relations, Political Science, Pre-Law, Legal Studies



Faculty Members:

Alexander Hviid,

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo, 

Time & Place:

10.00am-14.00pm in V10-A32

Course description

This course provides students with a general understanding of the international legal regulation of armed conflict – including humanitarian law, human rights law and international criminal law. The aim of the course is to enable students to understand the legal challenges of current and future armed conflicts, as well as enable them to critically analyze and evaluate concrete cases using both legal and political analysis. This is achieved by applying knowledge from readings and classes to both historical, contemporary and hypothetical future case studies of armed conflict.



Alexander Hviid

MSc (International Security & Law, University of Southern Denmark), M.A. (Social Science, University of Copenhagen). Research interests include public international law, specifically international criminal law and international humanitarian law as well as Arctic security and Danish-Greenlandic relations. Work experience with the Institute for Strategy at the Royal Danish Defense College and the Royal Danish Naval College. With DIS since 2016.


Course objectives

Through selected readings, class discussions, study tours and various assignments, the objectives of this course are for the students to:

  • Understand the historical development and nature of international humanitarian law.
  • Understand the main principles of international humanitarian law.
  • Be able to apply the rules of humanitarian law to concrete cases.
  • Be able to identify and distinguish between legal aspects and politics aspects of concrete cases.
  • Understand the interplay between humanitarian law, human rights law and international criminal law in conflict scenarios.
  • Gain an understanding of the reality and practical concerns affecting the implementation of obligations under international law;
  • Identify and discuss the main issues related to international accountability for war crimes.
  • Learn of Danish history and culture - notably the transformation of Denmark from a neutral to a warring nation.
  • Increase their ability to write analytical papers using legal argumentation supported by political considerations where appropriate.


Course requirements

  • Active participation (preparation for class, active participation during discussions in class with inputs based on facts, law, analysis and reflection)
  • Two tests on applying law to a real world case.
  • Final written assignment applying legal analysis to a conflict of own choice. 


Main themes

This course is divided into a number of modules reflecting the main themes that are treated throughout the course.

1. Intro – why war?

2. An overview of the law on the use of armed force in international relations – the so-called jus ad bellum.

3. New Wars - and Danish Wars of Choice vs. Wars of Necessity

- study tour - 

4. Humanitarian law – so-called jus in bello regulating the means and methods of warfare.

5. Controversial issues in current and future conflicts – cyberwar and autonomous weapon systems.




  • Emily Crawford and Alison Pert, International Humanitarian Law, Cambridge University Press, 2015 [textbook].
  • Selected readings from academic journals, Security Council resolutions, court cases, legal opinions and textbooks relevant to the individual topics and international treaties and conventions (all to be made available on Canvas).

Study questions are assigned for each class. They are meant as a guide while reading the assigned texts – thus enabling students to focus on the essential issues that will be covered in each class.

Note: Some of the readings might be subject to change during the course, but students will receive any new readings in due time to prepare for class.



Late arrival to class: 

All students are expected to come to class on time. Repeated late arrivals will result in a meeting with the instructor.

Policy on late hand-in of papers:

Papers handed in late will not be accepted.

 Use of laptops or phones in class:

The use of laptops is allowed only for taking notes. The use of mobile phones in class is not allowed.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


Course Summary:

Date Details Due