Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Mutually Exclusive

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours. Four one hour seminars each semester
Lecture 40 Hours. Three one hour lectures per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: Assessed essay of 2000 words (required in Week 10 of Semester 2)  33%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   67%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Resit: By retaking the failed element (ie written assignment or examination or both, as applicable) 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Find, understand and apply the relevant law in order to solve problems. Evaluate and criticise the law and to be aware of the scope for reform.

Brief description

Criminal Law is a foundation subject, and must be studied and passed for the purpose of obtaining exemption from the first stage of professional law examinations. The study of the general principles underlying the criminal law forms an important part of any proper legal education. The course will not attempt to deal with all or even most of the specific offences known to English law. There are too many such offences. The emphasis is on the underlying principles. Can criminal liability be incurred without proof of fault or of criminal intent? Will a person be deemed to "intend" a consequence where he knew it to be an inevitable side effect of his intended behaviour? Can ignorance of the law ever amount to a defence? What if a person sets out to commit a certain crime, but abandons the idea before completing it? Although the emphasis is on general principles, these cannot be taught or understood without reference to specific offences, and a significant number of these offences will be studied in depth. Criminal law exposes students to complex problems of statutory interpretation, and requires the study of a great deal of case law, much of it contradictory and unsound. Students must be prepared to question and criticise the law, whilst at the same time attempting to understand it.


The aim of this module is to provide students with a proper understanding of the basic principles and objectives of English criminal law, and a working knowledge of a reasonably wide range of specific offences and defences.


1. The Nature of Criminal Law
  • The meaning and scope of crime
  • The role of Criminal Law in society
  • Fundamental principles of criminal law
2. Elements of a Criminal Offence
2.1 Actus Reus
  • Commission and omission
  • State of affairs offences
  • Conduct and result crimes
  • Causation
  • Voluntariness and automatism
  • 2.2 Mens Rea
  • Different forms of mens rea
  • Intention
  • Knowledge or belief
  • Maliciousness `
  • Recklessness (Cunningham and Caldwell distinguished)
  • Wilfulness
  • Mistakes and mens rea
  • 2.3 Crimes of Strict Liability
3. Homicide
  • Varieties of unlawful homicide
  • Murder
  • Killing under provocation
  • Killing due to diminished responsibility
  • Constructive manslaughter
  • Reckless manslaughter
  • Causing death by dangerous driving
4. Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person
  • Assault and battery
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
  • Wounding and grievous bodily harm
  • Other violent offences
5. Sexual Offences
  • Rape
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Incest
  • Homosexual offences
  • Indecent assault
6. Theft and Offences Against Property
  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Blackmail
  • Handling stolen goods
  • Taking conveyance without consent
  • False accounting
  • Making off without payment
  • Obtaining property by deception
  • Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception
  • Obtaining services by deception
  • Other fraud offences
  • Criminal damage
7. Inchoate Offences
  • Incitement
  • Common law and statutory conspiracies
  • Attempt
8. Participation in Crime
  • Vicarious and corporate liability
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring
  • Mens rea of participants
  • Withdrawal from participation
  • Victims as accessories
  • Joint enterprise
9. Capacity and Defences
  • Infancy
  • Mental illness/insanity
  • Intoxication
  • Self defence
  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Mistake

Reading List

Recommended Text
Card, Richard. (c2006.) Card, Cross, and Jones criminal law. Primo search Herring, Jonathan. (2006.) Criminal law :text, cases, and materials /Jonathan Herring. Primo search Ormerod, David (2005) Smith and Hogan Criminal Law: Cases and Materials 9th edition OUP Primo search Ormerod, David. (2005.) Smith and Hogan criminal law /David Ormerod. Primo search Statutes on Criminal Law Edition required for current year. Blackstone Press Primo search
Supplementary Text
Allen, M. J. (2005.) Textbook on criminal law /Michael J. Allen. Primo search Jefferson, Michael (2006) Criminal Law 7th edition Longman Primo search Simester and Sullivan (2004) Criminal Law Theory and Doctrine 2nd revised Hart Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6