Module code: LAW1056

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of criminal liability and to the social, political and economic context in which they operate. It covers a range of fatal, non-fatal, sexual and property offences as well as a selection of defences that may be available to allow a defendant either to reduce their liability or to avoid liability altogether. Interwoven throughout the module are theoretical debates about the nature and purpose of criminal law and its role in society thus providing students with an accessible introduction to complex concepts such as paternalism, liberalism and autonomy using real-world illustrations from the news media and fiction. Students are encouraged to look at their world around them and see the criminal law ¿in action¿ and think about the role that it plays in shaping behaviour in society. The emphasis is on developing a critical approach to the criminal law whilst ensuring that students have a firm understanding of core legal principles and their operation. The module is designed around three themes to encourage students to look at the criminal law in an evaluative way: (1) the relationship between objectivity and subjectivity and the consequences of a shift from one to the other; (2) the conflict between principle and policy and (3) the shifting boundaries of criminal liability.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

FINCH Emily (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 16

Independent Learning Hours: 210

Lecture Hours: 44

Tutorial Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The module will cover a range of topics from amongst the following:

¿ The theoretical foundations of criminal law.
¿ The structure of criminal liability and core concepts of criminal law.
¿ Fatal offences including murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and corporate manslaughter.
¿ Non-fatal offences against the person ranging from assault to s18 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and covering physical and psychological harm.
¿ Sexual offences against adults and age-related sexual offences.
¿ Offences against property including theft, burglary, robbery and fraud offences.
¿ Defences such as self-defence, automatism, insanity and duress.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) Reflective exercise 20
Examination Exam - 1 hour 20
Coursework 4000 word coursework 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of key criminal law principles and policies as well as their understanding of the practical operation of the criminal law by means of the application of the law to a series of factual issues. The structure of the assessment aims to support students in the development of problem-solving skills by encouraging critical reflection upon their own formative work. It also facilitates the development of skills of legal analysis.

The formative assessment takes place early in the module and takes the form of a short and simple problem question. Formative feedback is an important component of the module. There are two formative feedback opportunities: firstly, a group session in which the answer to the formative question is explained that takes place immediately after the submission deadline to promote engagement with the formative assessment by the provision of (near) instant feedback and, secondly, individual verbal feedback on individual performance from the tutorial leaders.

The first part of the summative assessment builds upon the formative assessment as it requires students to engage in reflective evaluation of their formative answer, either working in a group to create a short video submission (no more than five minutes) or working individually to complete a skills evaluation form. This assessment makes direct use of the formative work and requires students to identified and demonstrate understanding of the skills involved in problem solving. The requirement for self-reflection promotes resourcefulness and resilience. It will also be an essential aspect of professional development in legal practice.

The second part of the summative assessment reinforces the learning at the heart of the earlier formative and summative assessments as it presents students with a further short problem question to demonstrate their legal analysis skills (one-hour, in-person examination in Semester 1).

The final stage of the summative assessment involves a longer piece of coursework (4000 words) which comprises of a mixed-issue problem question (2000 words) and an evaluative essay (2000 words) which is due for submission at the end of Semester 2. The skills examined are essential for progression in legal education and employment.

Students will have a further formative opportunity in Semester 2 which focuses on the skills involved in creating and development a legal argument in preparation for the essay-based element of the final summative assessment. Formative feedback will be provided in two stages: firstly, a large-group session immediately after submission which explores the different arguments that could have been created in response to the question and, secondly, a tutorial activity in which students use a marking scheme to evaluate each other¿s work (anonymously) to familiarize them with the characteristics of an effective essay and promote discussion of the skills involved in legal argument and essay writing.

Module aims

  • Introduce and define specific criminal offences and defences and to identify their elements and explore their operation.
  • Identify deficiencies with the existing law and to evaluate proposals for reform in the context of the relevant theoretical frameworks.
  • Promote an understanding of the context within which the criminal law operates and to instill an awareness of the social factors that are relevant to the criminal law.
  • Encourage a methodical and legalistic evaluation of criminal liability.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify, explain and apply the legislative provisions that regulate the offences covered in the module CKPT
002 Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and policies of the areas of criminal law covered CKPT
003 Engage in critical discussion of the effectiveness of the current law and identify and evaluate proposals for reform CKPT
004 Adopt a reflective approach towards legal analysis and argument and evolve an effective approach to problem solving in criminal law CKPT
005 Carry out independent research and demonstrate core legal skills in research, writing, evaluation, analysis and synthesis PT
006 To provide students with an opportunity to develop group working skills PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy encourages students to engage with principles and policies of criminal law and to appreciate the real-world impact of the criminal law.

The learning and teaching methods will include:
¿ two-hour interactive lectures in which core information and ideas will be disseminated.
¿ one-hour tutorials in which facilitate the exploration of ideas and concepts in greater depth.
¿ two-hour interactive workshops in which students have the opportunity to work collaboratively on activities that will strengthen their skills in critical analysis and liability analysis on a range of core criminal law topics.
Mentimeter and Kahoot will be used to promote interaction and engagement during lectures.
Timetabled sessions will be supplemented by a range of activities to support student learning such as a crime news reporter challenge in which students are encouraged to find crime stories in the media and create their own news reports to share with other students. The best of these will be shared in the Beechwood Bugle ¿ a (fictitious) local news website created to support the module ( The Beechwood Bugle will offer a range of other activities that will support the module. There will also be a criminal case ¿book club¿ each week which will give students the opportunity to unpick and analyse a case from the lecture in greater detail. The methods of teaching and learning are designed to promote students¿ resourcefulness and digital capabilities, while promoting sustainable thinking with strong cultural awareness and relevant employability skills.

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: LAW1056

Other information

Employability: This module prepares students with essential knowledge of criminal law and the criminal justice system that will be directly applicable to areas of professional practice and vocational training. Digital Capabilities: Students¿ digital capabilities will be developed through use of resources such as the fictional online news website, their use of online content to support their learning, researching and accessing legal sources online and their engagement with University online learning platforms. Global and Cultural Capabilities: The study of criminal law exposes students to diverse social and moral issues that are encountered across different cultures and communities. Sustainability: Students will develop a critical understanding of criminal law to identify areas for reform for future generations. Resourcefulness and Resilience: The requirement for research and reflection in this module will develop students¿ confidence and ability to develop as autonomous learners and to take ownership of their study.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law LLB (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law and Technology Pathway) LLB (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Philosophy, Politics and Law Pathway) LLB (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology LLB (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long 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 2023/4 academic year.