LAW 7171 - The Law of Weaponry

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

To examine the Domestic and International Law applicable to weapon acquisition and regulation. The course will canvass the application of Article 36 (API) weapons reviews, existing international weapon prohibitions (Including land-mines and cluster munitions), UN Sanctions against weapon importation, International Criminal responsibility for weapon use, State Responsibility for weapons supply, The Arms Trade Treaty, Non-lethal weapons, Cyber & space based weapons and the rise of autonomous weapons systems.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7171
    Course The Law of Weaponry
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Assessment A combination of two or more of the following: interim written assessment; in-class presentation; assessment of contribution to class discussion; examination (invigilated or take home); and/or research essay.
    Course Staff

    Dr William Boothby
    Associate Fellow, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

    Associate Professor Dale Stephens CSM (Course Coordinator)
    Room 2.17, Ligertwood Building
    Email: Phone: 08 8313 5937
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    International Security Law deals with the question of the use of force between States in accordance with international law.

    This course aims to enable students:
    1. to understand the nature of international law and the structure of the international legal system in relation to armed conflict;
    2. to understand the elements of the law applicable to the law of weaponry generally and with particular regard to specific applicable regimes;
    3. to understand and apply the Article 36 API weapons review process;
    4. to critically examine the Law of Weaponry with a focus on underpinning humanitarian strategies;
    5. to develop an understanding of the scope and application of the Certain Convention Weapons Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty as broader regimes of weapons control;
    6. to develop an understanding of the Constitutional and Commercial Legal Frameworks applicable to weapons acquisition within Australia;
    7. to successfully apply existing legal frameworks to emerging weapons technologies;
    8. to develop effective skills, both orally and in writing, in the construction of legal argument and analysis on issues of the law applicable to weaponry;
    9. to undertake self-directed international legal research at a high level, including through the use of online technologies.
    10. To analyse the characteristics of specific modern technologies by reference to a complex rules-based regime and to draw legally accurate conclusions.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 3,4,8,10
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 1,2,3,8,9
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 9
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 3,4,5,6,7,10
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1,2,4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    No required textbook. Students should consult with MyUni to access relevant materials that will be placed there.
    Recommended Resources
    William Boothby, Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2009)
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be used to post announcements, additional lecture materials (including slides, and where available, recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks. It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Profile and Course Materials. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Classes in this course will be held on Monday - Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm each day. There will be an hour’s break for lunch, and a shorter break each morning and afternoon

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Attending all seminars (unless otherwise excused), have read mandatory reading before class, prepared to contribute to class discussion.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Day 1: Welcome and Introduction; Weapons Law – Sources of the Law, Finding the Law, Relationship with Targeting, What are Weapons; Customary Principles I & II; Weapons Law and the Environment.

    Day 2: Poisons, Gases, Chemical and Biological Weapons; Firearms, Bullets and Cluster Munitions; The CCW Convention and Interaction with Specific Treaty Regimes ; Land Denial Weapons.

    Day 3: Naval Weapon Systems; Applying Weapons Law to Particular Technologies; Weapons in Space; International Criminal Law and Weapons Deployment; Cyber Weapons and NIAC.

    Day 4: Constitutional and Commercial Legal Aspects of Weapons Acquisition; Critical Perspectives on Weapons Law; The Arms Trade Treaty; Autonomous Weapons Developments; Compliance and the Legal Review of Weapons.

    Day 5: Weapons Review Preparation by Course Participants; Weapons Review Presentations and Debrief.
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no additional requirements for this course.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Item % of Final Mark Due Date
    Class Participation 10%


    In Class Presentation 30% 7/11
    Assignment (5,500 words) 60% 5/12


    Please Note: All written work in the Law school is required to comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation available at

    The class comprises law and non-law graduates. Although the assessment tasks are the same for all students in the course, students will be assessed according to whether they are law or non-law graduates respectively. This will be done by taking into account the extent to which some aspects of the task involve the exercise of skills that law graduates can be expected to have practiced or refined over a longer period or to a greater degree than their non-law counterparts, and therefore a higher standard of performance may legitimately be expected from the law graduates in the course.

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Written assignments must be typed on double-spaced A4 paper with a 10 or 12 point font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and should be printed double-sided where possible, for environmental reasons. The quality of English expression is considered to be integral part of the assessment process. Marks may be deducted in any class test because of poor hand-writing, and marks may be deducted in any written assessment because of spelling, grammar and presentation.
    Assessment Detail
    The assessment is designed to facilitate open and frank exchange of views and to motivate students to adopt and defend considered positions.

    Class participation accounts for 10% of the overall grade. The course will spend considerable time addressing technical legal issues associated with weapons development, acquisition and deployment, but will also promote more critical thinking relating to the role of law in regulating armed conflict. This necessarily requires that attention be paid to assessing broader social, political and moral commitments that underpin weapons use and deployment in armed conflict. Students will be encouraged to adopt an inter-disciplinary approach to tackling broader social, ethical, political and moral issues inherent in decision-making made in the context of armed conflict.

    Students will be required to provide a short (10 minute) presentation relating to a particular weapons review. Students will be taught the skills necessary to undertake this exercise. This will account for 25% of their overall grade. Students may use this short presentation to hone arguments that will be used in their long assessment paper or to use the opportunity to address a discrete area of interest that may not ultimately feature in their long paper.

    The majority of the course grade will come from a 5,500 word essay (long paper). While students will be free to design any relevant (and approved) topic they would like, selected possible topics will be presented cumulatively through the course for consideration and must be finalised by the last day of the course. Such developed topics/questions will follow the threads of discussion that have been led during the course.
    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    All assignments in this course are to be submitted electronically through By submitting your assignment electronically you are agreeing to the following:

    I declare that all material in this assessment is my own work except where there is clear acknowledgement and reference to the work of others. I have read the Policy on Cheating in Examinations and Related Forms of Assessment. I have also read the University's Plagiarism Policy.

    Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the assignment instructions.

    All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made via email to the course coordinator.

    Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not unexpected circumstances.


    1. Late Submission: Submission penalties of 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is one hour late, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 25 hours late, etc.

    2. Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.

    Turnaround time: The interim assignment for this course will be returned to students within 3 weeks of the submission date. Group feedback, together with written, individual feedback will be provided, from which students can learn from in the final assignment. The final assignment will be returned to students within 4 weeks of the submission date with written individual feedback. Students will be notified by email when assignments are ready for collection from the Law School Front Office.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    GS8 (Grading Scheme)




    Fail No Submission




    Non Graded Pass








    High Distinction


    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from:


    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level (see: )


    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide (


    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.