Module code: SOC1041

Module provider


Module Leader

FINCH E Dr (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits


ECTS Credits



FHEQ Level 4

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3000 WORD COURSEWORK 100

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module is intended to introduce students to the study of English Criminal Law as an academic discipline. It aims to help them identify the general principles of the common law, to become familiar with statutory interpretation,  and to examine specific criminal offences in the light of the general principles of English criminal law (and the European Convention on Human Rights)

Module aims

To analyse the general principles of criminal law in England and Wales.

To appreciate the basis for criminalisation, taking into account principles such as harm, paternalism, autonomy and morality.

To address the composition of criminal offences in terms of a prohibited act/omission, the relevant mental state and the presence of any defence.

To examine specific criminal offences such as manslaughter, non-fatal offences against the person, sexual offences and property offences

Evaluate proposals for law reform

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Students will be able to recognise how criminal law differs from the law interpreted and developed in the civil courts of England and Wales.  They will be able to analyse legal problems involving the construction of criminal liability.   They will be able to identify the underlying general principles of the common law and statute, where appropriate.  They will also be able to identify relevant general defences and to evaluate them.  They will be able to evaluate proposals for law reform and to keep up to date with new legislation and new case law.  They will be able to understand how legislation is interpreted in criminal cases and how the burden and standard of proof applies, particularly with defences.

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

The sources of English criminal law (both common law and statutory).

Concepts of ‘mens rea’ and ‘actus reus’ and their conjunction in legal definitions of an act as criminal

The elements of criminal liability: conduct, omission, mental state and excusatory and justificatory defences.

Offences of strict liability.

Causation (in fact and in law) and circumstances that ‘break the chain of causation’.

Non-fatal offences against the person contrary to the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and common assault and battery.

Sexual offences: rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault and age-related offences.

Property offences: theft, burglary, robbery, fraud and making off without payment.

Methods of Teaching / Learning

Lecturers, seminars and reading 

Assessment Strategy

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.