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School of Law

LAW5005 Criminal Law

Criminal law is a fascinating area of law with profound consequences for all of us. Its focus—and what distinguishes it from related topics like criminal procedure, evidence, and sentencing—is establishing the circumstances in which a defendant will be held criminally liable, and for what offence(s). This module therefore explores the question of when the law holds (or should hold) individuals criminally responsible and subject to public censure, control, and punishment as a consequence. These issues are often controversial, and criminal law gives rise to interesting and challenging moral, political, and philosophical questions. About half of the module will focus on what is often called the “general part” of the criminal law: the concepts, principles, and rules that apply more generally to different criminal offences. This will include topics related to conduct elements (the “actus reus”) and mental or fault elements of offences (the “mens rea”), defences that exclude liability, and different ways of participating in criminal offences. We will also cover specific criminal offences—for instance, murder, assault, and theft—and explore the unique elements that define each of these and distinguish them from similar offences. We will approach all of this critically, and explore the debates, values, and assumptions that underpin the law.

Method of assessment

  • 25% Essay
  • 75% Exam

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