Module Identifier LA15930  
Module Title CRIMINAL LAW  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Stephen J Skinner  
Semester Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)  
Other staff Mr Neil Kibble, Dr Olaoluwa Olusanya, Stephan Swann, Mrs Glenys N Williams, Miss Nerys Ann Llewelyn Jones  
Mutually Exclusive LA35930  
Course delivery Lecture   40 Hours. Three one hour lectures per week  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours. Four one hour seminars each semester  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Semester 1: Mock exam question, self-assessed by students: does not count towards final mark67%
Semester Assessment Essay: Assessed essay of 2000 words (required in Week 10 of Semester 2)  33%
Supplementary Assessment2 Hours Resit: By retaking the failed element (ie written assignment or examination or both, as applicable)   
Professional Exemptions Required for Professional Purposes  

Learning outcomes

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

1. evaluate and analyse critically the scope and purpose of the criminal law, with reference to historical development, current problems and the possibilities for reform;
2. identify and explain the fundamental principles of criminal law and critically analyse their relevance and application;
3. identify and analyse the elements forming the basis of criminal liability, namely the conduct element and the mental element;
4. identify and explain the relevant constitutive elements of major offences and defences and be able to apply them to factual situations in order to solve problems;
5. construct convincing and cogent arguments on the basis of relevant law and available evidence.
In so doing students will develop the following skills:
1. reading and comprehension of cases and other legal texts;
2. written and oral expression;
3. critical and contextual analysis;
4. interpretation and application of legal rules.

Brief description

Criminal Law is a foundation subject, which must be studied and passed for the purpose of obtaining exemption from the first stage of professional law examinations. Criminal law is just one of the many branches of the law that may be studied by students, but it is arguably the largest and the most pervasive. In other words, the criminal law impinges on almost every other sphere of English law: it intrudes into commercial law, revenue law, family law, environmental law and many others. For example The Companies Act 1985 creates over 150 different criminal offences. You will even encounter criminal law when studying public international law. It follows that the study of the general principles underlying the criminal law forms an important part of any proper legal education. We must emphasise that 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. Homicide, for example, can be used to illustrate and explain a wide range of principles. Killings may be lawful or unlawful; deliberate or accidental; pre-meditated or the result of sudden provocation. The killer may be drunk or sober or insane; the victim may die at once, or may die later as the result of medical negligence. There is another reason for studying a fairly wide range of offences. A criminal lawyer needs to be aware of the fact that, where one offence cannot be made out on the evidence available, it is possible that another, slightly different offence can be made out. A charge of aggravated burglary might succeed where one of robbery would fail. Criminal law is often the subject that new law students most want to study and we trust that they will not be disappointed with it. It is vivid and shocking in places, and strong in human interest. It is not, however, an easy subject. It 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 the criminal law of England and Wales, together with a working knowledge of a reasonably wide range of specific offences and defences. The module also aims to develop skills as outlined above, especially in relation to the use of legal texts and the interpretation and understanding of legal rules.


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
voluntariness and automatism
2.2 Mens Rea
different forms of mens rea
knowledge or belief
maliciousness `
recklessness (Cunningham and Caldwell distinguished)
mistakes and mens rea
2.3 Crimes of Strict Liability

3. Homicide
varieties of unlawful homicide
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
unlawful sexual intercourse
homosexual offences
indecent assault

6. Theft and Offences Against Property
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
common law and statutory conspiracies

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
mental illness/insanity
self defence

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
(2006.) Blackstone's statutes on criminal law 2006-2007 /edited by Peter Glazebrook. 0199288151
** Recommended Text
Card, Richard. (c2006.) Card, Cross, and Jones criminal law. 0199286669
Herring, Jonathan. (2006.) Criminal law :text, cases, and materials /Jonathan Herring. 0199289352
Ormerod, David (2005) Smith and Hogan Criminal Law: Cases and Materials 9th edition. OUP
Smith, J. C. (2005.) Smith & Hogan criminal law. 9780406977304
** Supplementary Text
Allen, Michael (2005) Textbook on Ciminal Law 8th edition. OUP
Ashworth, Andrew. (c2006.) Principles of criminal law /Andrew Ashworth. 0199281149
Jefferson, Michael (2006) Criminal Law 7th edition. Longman
Simester, A. P. (2003 (revised 2) Criminal law :theory and doctrine /A.P. Simester and G.R. Sullivan. 1841133647


This module is at CQFW Level 4