MA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


Bousfield, Dan


Killer robots are no longer a facet of science fiction, but rather an imminent reality. The development of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) has been something states and military operations have been working towards to build their arsenal and change the landscape of conflict. With this changing landscape, these AWS fit within public international law in a unique way, existing somewhere in between a weapon and a combatant. With increased autonomy and diminished human control over their behaviour, AWS present an interesting dilemma to existing international legal structures, as they are typically written in a fashion designed to be adhered by humans, not machines. In order to better understand and solidify the place of AWS within these structures, this paper will analyze legal scholars’ works regarding AWS in armed conflict. Within the defined boundaries set forth in the international regulatory legal structures, this paper will provide analysis situated in context in order to provide a more grounded interpretation of AWS within these structures. literature review seeks to draw conclusions from these authors and their work, and how they contribute to finding a place for AWS within the existing international legal structures.