Course Syllabus International Operational Law on Hybrid Warfare and Terrorism

Course Code:
Valid from Semester:
Education Cycle:
Advanced level
7.5 Higher education credit
Grading Scale:
Fail, Pass, Pass with Distinction
Main Field of Study:
International and Operational Law
Department of Political Science and Law
International and Operational Law
Language of Instruction:
The education is partially in English
Decided by:
The Research and Education Board’s Course Syllabus Committee at the Swedish Defence University
Decision date:

Entry Requirements

Degree of Master of Laws or Degree of Bachelor of Science in Law with Specialisation in International Law or equivalent plus English B or English 6.

Course Content and Structure

The overall aim of the course is to give students a deeper understanding of challenges for international operational law that arise from the phenomena known as hybrid warfare and terrorism.
The term hybrid warfare refers to strategies that combine different types of means and methods to defeat or otherwise influence an adversary – often in the borderline areas between peace and war. Hybrid warfare is characterised by measures that include a combination of conventional and non-conventional means and methods, those that may be difficult to attribute to a particular actor, or those that do not amount to open combat. The term includes, among other things, influence within the cognitive domain, such as deception and influence operations, as well as acts that fall under the term “lawfare”. The term terrorism can be described as a threat or use of force to cause intimidation or panic, especially for the purpose of influencing political actions.
The course provides an in-depth study of operational law that is applicable when identifying and addressing hybrid warfare and terrorism. The legal challenges and opportunities that arise will be analysed and discussed. The course focuses on both the applicability and scope of relevant international law, particularly demarcation issues that may arise within and between different areas of law, as well as the regulation of responsibility for hybrid warfare and terrorism under international law.

Course structure:
1. Introduction to the phenomena of hybrid threats and terrorism from an operational law perspective.
2. Hybrid threats and operational law
3. Terrorism and operational law
4. International responsibility for hybrid warfare and terrorism
5. Examination
During course components 1–4, lesson-based instruction takes place mainly in the form of group work.
The course focuses in particular on current research and development related to operational legal aspects of hybrid warfare and terrorism.
The course begins with lectures interspersed with self-study. The course then alternates between self-studies, group work and seminars, which together give the students a foundation for the course’s final written take-home examination.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After having completed course the student should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding
  • demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of international operational law that is applicable to hybrid warfare and terrorism, and of how the specific nature of these phenomena affects the law's interpretation and application.

Competence and skills
  • independently and together with others, identify, analyse, solve, and, both verbally and in writing, explain and argue in relation to complex operational legal issues that arise due to hybrid warfare and terrorism.

Judgement and approach
  • demonstrate the ability to assess and evaluate opportunities and limitations in jurisprudence methods, and demonstrate the ability to identify and fulfil their need for additional knowledge.


Scope: 7.5 Higher education credit


Grades are set according to a three-grade scale: Pass with Distinction (PwD), Pass (P) and Fail (F). Grading criteria are specified by no later than the start of the course.
To earn the grade Pass (P), the student must actively participate in mandatory seminars and earn a grade of Pass (P) on the written take-home examination.
To earn the grade Pass with Distinction (PwD) in the course, the student must meet the requirements for Pass (P) and earn a grade of Pass with Distinction (PwD) on the written take-home examination.

Restrictions in Number of Examinations

The number of examinations is not limited.

Restrictions Concerning Degree

The course cannot be included in a degree with another course whose content fully or partially corresponds to the content of this course.

Transitional Provisions

When the course is no longer given or when the course content has changed substantially, the student has the right to be examined once per semester during a three-term period in accordance with this syllabus.


The course is given within the Swedish Defence University’s Master’s Programme in International Operational Law, and may also be given as a freestanding course.
If a student has a decision from the Swedish Defence University regarding special educational support due to a disability, the examiner may decide on alternative forms of examination for the student.
On completion of the course, an evaluation will be conducted under the auspices of the course director and will serve as the basis for any changes to the course.