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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAW2004 Module Title: CRIMINAL LAW
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAW203
Level: HE2 Module Co-ordinator: BLAKE LW Mr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment

Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)

Coursework: Students will be required to submit one piece of coursework not exceeding 3000 words in the first week of the spring semester. Course work should demonstrate computer literacy, both in its presentation and content where familiarity with electronic databases should be shown. Copied or plagiarised course-work will be totally rejected and appropriate sanctions applied


Three-hour examination: The examination will cover not only those areas dealt with in lectures and tutorials but also those included in general and guided reading


A – Content
  1. Identification of Issues
    Students should demonstrate the ability to identify the legal issues raised by the title.
  2. Research
    Students should demonstrate that they have undertaken appropriate research of both primary (e.g. cases and statutes) and secondary sources (e.g. journal articles and texts). Recognition should be had to the significant contribution authoritative academic viewpoints make to the subject. All legal authorities and other source material should be properly cited and a bibliography included with coursework.
  3. Analysis of the Law and Application to the Question
    Students should demonstrate the ability to analyse the relevant law, recognising gaps and inconsistencies, and to apply it to the issues raised by the title.
  4. Evaluation and Synthesis
    The law should be subjected to critical analysis and, where appropriate, a consideration of its wider context.
  5. Conclusions
    Students should demonstrate the ability to reach appropriate conclusions drawn from their analysis of the law and of the issues raised by the question. Depending upon the nature of the question, such conclusions may appear in the course of analysis or in a concluding section.
B - Presentation
  1. Structure
  2. Clarity of expression
  3. Conciseness
  4. Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation
  5. Legibility
The assessment strategy is designed to discover whether the student has understood the central principles of criminal law, undertaken the required reading, and developed a critical awareness of the central tensions in the area.
Students are advised that persistent non-attendance at classes may affect performance in the assessments
Module Overview
This module analyses the general principles of English criminal law, and the substance of criminal offences. Understanding the nature of criminal liability is the primary objective of the module. The elements of crimes are examined, by reference to particular offences. General defences are critically considered. The liability of co-participants, accessories and other persons connected with the criminal conduct of others is analysed. The module considers the tension of the differing theories of criminalisation that influence the development of crimes and evaluation of their content.
Module Aims
The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the practical operation of criminal law and its sometimes contradictory underpinning theories.
Students address such questions as:
  • What are the components of a criminal act?
  • What constitutes a guilty mind?
  • What crimes can be committed against persons and how are they regulated?
  • What crimes can be committed against property and how are they regulated?
Learning Outcomes
At the end of this module, students are able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the nature and operation of English criminal law;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the doctrines and concepts which underpin English criminal law;
  3. Identify particular crimes against individuals and critically assess what constitutes guilt;
  4. Identify particular crimes against the property of individuals and critically assess what constitutes guilt;
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the concept of causation as an element of consequence crimes;
  6. Analyse the theories of inchoate offences and distinguish these crimes from the law relating to secondary liability to another person’s crime;
  7. Assess the probable and actual influence of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the development of the criminal law;
  8. Demonstrate a critical understanding of possible defences;
  9. Apply acquired knowledge to construct arguments in relation to problems scenarios;
  10. Apply criminal law theories and principles to substantive issues;
  11. Undertake directed legal research to locate relevant materials.
Module Content
  1. The sources of the criminal law (both common law and statutory);
  2. Theories and justifications of criminal liability;
  3. The identification and significance of offence elements;
  4. How criminal statutes are interpreted;
  5. Offences of strict liability;
  6. The fault requirement and the mental element of criminal liability;
  7. Criminal conduct – acts and omissions;
  8. Causation of consequences as an element of offence liability;
  9. The requirement of coincidence of the actus reus the mens rea of a crime;
  10. General defences: automatism, insanity, duress by threats, and duress of circumstances, necessity and self defence;
  11. The significance of consent or lack of consent as an aspect of criminal liability
  12. Factors varying criminal liability: intoxication and mistake
  13. Homicide: murder and manslaughter (including diminished responsibility);
  14. Principal offenders and accessories;
  15. Assisting offenders after a crime has been committed;
  16. Vicarious liability and the liability of corporations.
  17. Inchoate offences: incitement, conspiracy, and attempt;
  18. Non-fatal offences against the person;
  19. Theft Acts 1968 and 1978;
  20. Criminal Damage Act 1971.
Methods of Teaching/Learning
The method of teaching will be by lectures and tutorials and online discussions. However the students’ learning will come from other sources also (court visits and the information provided by the media). The lectures will introduce the students to the subject areas and provide an overview of the syllabus, thus enabling the students to understand the basic principles and where to find the first sources. Students will then conduct research to prepare for online and tutorial discussion. The online discussion will provide an environment for group work to prepare for focussed tutorial discussion. The questions used in online and tutorial discussion will consider detailed issues and topics and these media are more suitable than lectures for this method of learning. Tutorials and online discussions will emphasise the need for fact management, precision in the use of definitions, and will seek to develop the students' ability to solve problems and to construct arguments using law. The students will be expected to have consulted law reports, journals, textbooks, and statutory provisions and to apply the information thus gathered to specific discussion of questions and factual problems. Students will also be expected to visit the criminal courts (Magistrates’ Courts, Crown Court, and Court of Appeal) and to be aware of the issues arising in trials and appeals reported in the media. Proposals for law reform will also be addressed, as and when they become topical. Students will be expected to read quality newspapers and other periodicals.
Selected Texts/Journals
Expected Purchase
Herring,,  Criminal Law, Text, Cases and Materials (OUP, 2004)
Background Reading
Smith and Hogan, Criminal Law (Butterworths, 10th ed, 2002)
Allen, Criminal Law (OUP, 7th ed, 2003)
Ashworth, Principles of Criminal Law (OUP, 4th ed, 2003)
Card, Cross, Joans, Criminal Law (Butterworths, 15th ed, 2001)
Clarkson, Understanding Criminal Law (Sweet & Maxwell, 4th ed, 2004)
Heaton: Criminal Law (OUP, 2004)
Reed and Seago, Criminal Law (Sweet and Maxwell, 2nd ed, 2002)
Simester and Sullivan, Criminal Law – Theory and Doctrine (Hart, 2nd ed, 2003)
Reference Only
Archbold, Criminal Pleading, Evidence, and Practice (Sweet and Maxwell, 2005 edition)
Clarkson & Keating, Criminal Law, Text and Materials (Sweet & Maxwell, 5th ed, 2003)
Dennis (Ed.), Sweet and Maxwell's Criminal Law Statutes 2005/6 (Sweet and Maxwell, 7th ed)
Dine & Gobert, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (OUP, 4th ed, 2003)
Elliott & Wood, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (Sweet & Maxwell, 8th ed, 2001)
Glazebrook (Ed.), Blackstone's Statutes on Criminal Law (OUP, 2005)
Griew, The Theft Acts 1968-1978 (Sweet and Maxwell)
Lacey, Wells & Quick, Reconstructing Criminal Law, Text and Materials (Butterworths, 3rd ed, 2003)
Murphy, Peter and others: Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2004 (OUP, 2004)
Scanlon (Ed.), Butterworth's Students Statutes (OUP)
Smith, The Law of Theft (Butterworths, 8th ed, 1997)
Smith & Hogan, Criminal Law, Cases and Materials (Butterworths, 8th ed, 2002)
Stone, Richard: Offences Against the Person. Cavendish.
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