Module code: SOC1041

Module Overview

This module introduces criminology students to criminal law in England and Wales. It explores the justifications for criminalisation and sets out general principles of criminal liability. It examines these principles in relation to specific types of criminal activity, focusing on homicide offences, selected non-fatal offences against the person, sexual offences, and property offences. Its purpose is to expose criminology students to criminal law. Effectively, the module is a criminal law module, not a criminology module. Students will learn how to analyse criminal matters from the point of view of a lawyer, not a social scientist. In this respect, it is very different from criminology modules. The students will also improve other skills, such as developing, expressing, and evaluating arguments.

Students will have an opportunity to request additional support, if needed, and they can speak to other members of the Law School as well as use library resources to seek extra information. The module leader will be able to advise on that.

Module provider


Module Leader

DZIEMBA-BIRDSEY Agnieszka (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: 50

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 50

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative topics include:

Principles of Criminal Law

Elements of Criminal Liability


  • Murder

  • Manslaughter

  • Relevant defences

Non-fatal offences against person:

  • Assault and battery

  • Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Criminal Damage

Sexual Offences

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework WORD COURSEWORK 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of concepts of criminal law

  • A grasp of methods used in liability analysis

  • The ability to engage in analysis of legal rules

  • An understanding of some criticisms of law in the relevant area

  The summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • coursework consisting of an essay-style question and a problem question

  Formative assessment

  • A problem question that ‘previews’ and ‘clarifies’ the nature of the questions asked in the coursework.

Feedback will be provided during class discussions in lectures and tutorials and in the written and/or oral feedback that students will receive for their formatives. The feedback will enhance the students’ resourcefulness and resilience. They will become self-aware of any limitations of their current ability to construct their own arguments and offer clear and careful explanations of abstract concepts and will improve in these crucial areas significantly.

Module aims

  • Appreciate the bases for criminalization, considering principles concerning harm, autonomy, and/or morality.
  • Analyze criminal liability in terms of a prohibited act and/or omission, the relevant mental state (mens rea), and the presence or absence of a defence.
  • Examine specific criminal offences.
  • Encourage critical reflection on the question of what role law should have in the society.
  • Evaluate proposals for criminal legal reform.
  • Practice problem solving skills by analysing potential areas of liability in problem scenarios
  • Improve time management by productively organizing study time
  • Improving communication skills while discussing relevant legal points
  • Practice problem solving skills by analysing potential areas of liability in problem scenarios
  • Improve time management by productively organizing study time
  • Improving communication skills while discussing relevant legal points

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Students will be able to recognise how criminal law differs from the law interpreted and developed in the civil courts of England and Wales.  KCT
002 Identify, analyze, and apply relevant statutory provisions and case law. KCT
003 Analyze legal problems involving criminal liability, including the availability of some defenses. KCT
004 Assess the effectiveness of the criminal law and evaluate proposals for reform. KCT
005 Understand, explain and critically engage in class discussions and assessments. KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Enable students independently to understand and reflect on the issues covered in the module and develop the ability to provide arguments in support of their views.

  • Enable students to defend their views by anticipating and preempting possible criticisms and possible objections from different backgrounds and perspectives during tutorial discussions.

  • Engage students with different learning backgrounds and perspectives and maximize their learning by critically drawing out their own views and perspectives in class discussions.

To achieve this, the following learning and teaching methods will be used: lectures and tutorials.

Lectures follow a broadly Socratic method and are supported by PowerPoint presentations. At various points during the lectures, questions will be posed to students in order to enable students to critically engage with the material, the views and arguments of their peers, and to develop their own independent views and arguments in response to them.

Tutorials serve to consolidate understanding of the material covered and discussed during the lectures. During the tutorials, students will be encouraged to explain and defend their views confidently and professionally, and to defend and/or critically engage with others in an informed and constructive way.  Such skills readily transfer to issues a student is likely to engage with during their employment.

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

Other information

Concepts of Criminal Law module is committed to developing students with strengths in Employability, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:


This module will advance students’ abilities and competence in critical thinking and critical engagement by encouraging (through class discussions) and requiring (through assessments) students to explain and critique criminal law concepts as well as carry out legal analysis of potential areas of liability. Students will be invited, during class discussions, to develop their own views in relation to the issues discussed in the module and construct informed arguments in support of them. Students will be encouraged to not only critically consider and engage with the material, but also with each other’s arguments. Through such exercises, students learn how to construct arguments and the ability to defend their arguments by anticipating and preempting potential criticisms and objections. Students will be able to engage in these exercises verbally during discussions in the lectures and the tutorials. Student will be able to transfer their critical thinking and engagement skills to more specific issues faced in their employment.

Global and Cultural Capabilities

Students will therefore be invited to bring in their own perspectives that are unique to their backgrounds to critically engage with the taught material. They will also be asked to engage with each other’s views critically but respectfully and to consider the limits of their own arguments, both during class discussions and in the assessment. This will enable students to appreciate and carefully consider the different perspectives that different people from different background and cultures take towards the same issues and how limited their own perspectives can be. Requiring students to anticipate and preempt possible objections and criticisms also train students to think in others’ shoes, especially those who disagree with them.

Resourcefulness and Resilience

Students will learn to be resourceful in their argumentation in this module. Through the critical engagement they will receive during class discussions, students will learn to be agile in their thinking and when constructing and defending their own arguments and clear and careful in their explanations of abstract concepts. They will learn to be reflective and self-aware of the limitations of their own perspectives through the critical discussions with others and by anticipating and preempting criticisms from others. To do well in this module, students must be proactive in engaging with the material. Finally, this module enables students to develop the resilience not only to argue for their view in an informed and sophisticated manner but also accept and properly respond to criticisms from those who disagree.

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 2023/4 academic year.