LWMWEA-Technologies and Weaponry

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof James Green

Email: J.A.Green@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Modern weaponry and technologies have the potential to cause large-scale disasters (both environmental and human). This module explores the implications of the use of particular types of weaponry or emerging technologies for the security of states and the people who live within them, as well as to the natural environment. The module examines the legal restrictions on the use of certain weapons and the extent to which international law can effectively prevent disasters caused by the use of weapons (especially weapons of mass destruction) and/or dangerous new technologies, as a form of disaster risk reduction in terms of preventing or mitigating the potential effects of, as well as disaster management following, their eventual deployment. The general international legal restrictions on the acceptable means and methods of warfare are explored, but beyond these general restrictions the module engages in depth with the specific legal regulation of key weapons and technologies, such as: nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, semi-automated weapons (including drones) and attacks in cyberspace.

The module examines the international law governing potentially devastating weaponry and technology through abstract assessment of the law itself, but also through detailed assessment of real world examples that highlight the law (including its inadequacies) in practice, As such, in assessing and applying the law, students will engage with actual disasters caused by the use of particular weapons. The aim is for students to gain a detailed substantive understanding of the relevant legal provisions, but also to understand both its value and limitations in practice, including from a disaster risk reduction and disaster management perspective.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

• Draw upon a body of detailed substantive knowledge of international law gained through both class participation and self-study, and apply this to examples (actual and/or hypothetical) of the use of weaponry by either states or non-state actors.
• Debate the relative legal merits of claims made by states in the context of weapons and technologies that have the potential to cause large-scale disasters.
• Demonstrate an ability to set the substantive law content of the module in a wider context, both legal and non-legal.

Additional outcomes:
Given the fact that the module is orientated towards small group teaching and independent study, it will encourage autonomy with regard to critical analysis of the legal topics examined, as well as high-level oral communication skills. The module will also require students to prepare a succinct case study on an international incident relating to the use (or threatened use) of a particular weapon/technology, draw legal conclusions with regard to the incident (both in terms of its lawfulness and any long term normative impact) and present this orally.

These outcomes are in addition to those listed in the School's ‘core skills statement’.

Outline content:
The module will cover topics such as:

•General restrictions on weaponry
•The use of nuclear weapons
•The testing of nuclear weapons
•Biological and chemical weapons
•(Semi-)automated weapons

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to provide students with a range of resources on which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:

• A list of required and recommended readings, with notes and questions that will be used to guide class discussion and reflection.
• Six seminar classes of 2 hours each.
• Students will prepare a 10 - 15 minute ‘case-study’ presentation on an international incident where a state has used force, and present this in class. Formative feedback will be provided following this presentation.

Where there are specialist programme lectures or events, or other University seminars, relevant to these issues, students in the module will be encouraged to attend and be given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academic presenters.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 12
Guided independent study 88
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
An assessed essay of 8 pages (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules).

Formative assessment methods:
One compulsory non-assessed presentation of 10-15 minutes (during a seminar), on which the students will receive written feedback.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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