Module code: SOC1041

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 provider


Module Leader

TAGGART Christopher (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3000 WORD COURSEWORK 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

Methods of Teaching / Learning

Lecturers, seminars and reading 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC1041

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 2020/1 academic year.