Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Criminal Law
Academic Year
Semester 2
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Reading List

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  (Unseen)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Exam  (Unseen)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Recognize and explain the fundamental principles which underlie the criminal law in a detailed manner, and analyse critically their relevance and application to specific criminal offences and defences.

2. Identify and analyse critically the elements which form the basis of criminal liability, namely the conduct and the mental elements, and the exceptions to these.

3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of each relevant constituent element of major offences and defences - both in legislation and in the common law - and apply them to factual situations in order to solve problems.

4. Evaluate critically the scope of the criminal law, its current problems, and options for reform proposed in particular by the Law Commission.

5. Construct convincing, cogent and detailed arguments on the basis of relevant law and evidence, in order to develop skills in reading, understanding and applying the relevant legal texts (be it cases or legislation) to legal problems, and to interpret and critically analyse legal rules and texts pertaining to the criminal law.

Brief description

The module aims to provide students with the opportunity to understand and examine critically the evidence, concepts, debates, and controversies associated with the study of criminal law. It will inform students of the principles of criminal law upon which most offences are based, and of the key criteria in identifying the most serious of criminal offences, such as homicide and sexual offences. They will also be informed of the key cases, and legislation which govern the criminal law. . As a core module for professional exemption purposes, the module will introduce students to the key foundational principles which underlie the criminal law at an early stage in their studies, emphasizing the role these principles play in everyday life. The module will then build upon these principles by focusing on the most serious criminal offences. It will create an environment where students are motivated to learn more out of curiosity. Students will be encouraged to review what is known, to identify what additional information is needed to solve substantive issues in criminal law, and to continue the search to find and critically examine new solutions to old problems. Learning goals for students will include the following: to be critical consumers of information emanating from legislation or a judicial authority and to be able to create, present and rebut arguments within the existing doctrinal framework.


The module sets out general principles relating to the mens rea (mental element) and the actus reus (conduct element) of criminal offences, before proceeding to look at the substantive offences of murder; manslaughter; partial defences; sexual offences; participation in crime; non-fatal offences against the person; property offences; inchoate offences: defences of incapacity and mental conditions and general defences.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication The module will develop students’ written communication skills by way of the examination. In addition, student will develop their oral communication skills through individual and group responses to set work on the seminars.
Improving own Learning and Performance Seminar participation and exam preparation develop different aspects of academic research, from understanding and referencing sources through the dissemination of ideas to others orally, and developing written communication skills.
Information Technology Library and research skills are fundamental to preparation for seminars and assessed work.
Personal Development and Career planning Recommended topic for any considering working in criminal practice/criminal justice system.
Problem solving The module will develop students’ problem-solving skills in a number of ways. Students will be required to analyse a range of sources and texts in order to answer problem-solving questions in the seminars; and in their examination.
Research skills Students are expected to research and synthesize a range of academic source material in preparing for their seminars and for their examination.
Subject Specific Skills Legal research: use of legal databases as a resource for statute and case law. Reading primary sources in the way of cases and legislation. Problem solving exercises in seminars will assist in examination problem-solving style questions, and, more widely, in the legal profession.
Team work The seminars will include problem-solving and group discussions which will provide opportunities for students to develop team-working skills and discuss their thoughts with the rest of the class.


This module is at CQFW Level 6