Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM712: International Law of Cyber Operations

This module descriptor refers to the 2014/5 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (0 weeks), term 2 (11 weeks) and term 3 (0 weeks)

Academic staff

Professor Mike Schmitt (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


This course surveys the international law applicable to cyber operations involving States.  It begins with an introduction to the technology involved in such activities, including internet structure, defensive and offensive cyber operations and anonymization.  Additionally, the introductory phase examines the place of cyber operations in the contemporary geopolitical environment.  Following the introduction, the course turns to the law governing cyber operations during peace time.    Topics include sovereignty, jurisdiction, the law of State responsibility, and the UN Charter and customary international law regimes governing cyber operations that rise to the level of a 'use of force'.  This section concludes with a practical exercise designed to permit you to apply the principles to a hypothetical, albeit realistic, situation.  The second major section of the course addresses the application of international humanitarian law to cyber operations taking place during an armed conflict.  Accordingly, it examines when cyber activities amount to an armed conflict that is either non-international or national in conflict, the law of neutrality as applied to cyber operations, cyber weapons law, and the international humanitarian law that limits the conduct of hostilities.  It too concludes with a practical exercise designed to allow you to experience practical application of these legal principles and rules.  The course is unique in that other attendees will include State legal advisers who are responsible for providing legal advice on cyber matters.


Please note the following points carefully. The instruction on this module will take place abroad. Participation in this module therefore entails additional expenses. Meeting these expenses is the responsibility of the participating students. Enrolment on this module may be subject to additional conditions. For further details and information about this module, please contact Dr Aurel Sari ( ) or Professor Michael N Schmitt (

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