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: 10

Independent Learning Hours: 166

Lecture Hours: 44

Tutorial Hours: 12

Guided Learning: 24

Captured Content: 44

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) Group Video Project 20
Examination Online Exam - 90 mins 20
Coursework Coursework 60

Alternative Assessment

The alternative assessment to the group video project is a piece of evaluative coursework.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of key principles, policies and theories of criminal law as well as developing their skills in legal analysis by means of application of the law to a series of factual situations.

Summative Assessment:

The first part of the summative assessment focuses on theories of criminal law and aims to ensure that students are able to make connections between the theories of criminalisation and the law in operation. It is a group work project in which students work together to create a short video. Students will have an opportunity to receive formative feedback on their ideas for the video in workshops.

The second part of the summative assessment is a 90-minute online exam based upon the case files that students will have been working on in tutorials in the first semester. This approach requires students to engage with a range of sources of information such as video conferences with a client, witness statements and police reports in order to make an evaluation of the client’s likely liability at trial. Formative feedback is provided on the case files in tutorials and the assessment is supported by a Q&A session and a dedicated online discussion forum.

The final stage of the assessment is a 3000-word mixed issue problem question due at the end of the module. Students will complete a shorter formative problem question early in Semester 2 and will receive verbal feedback by means of a one-to-one discussion with their tutorial leader or another member of the teaching team. The analytical skills at the heart of the assessment are essential for progression in legal education and are core legal skills necessary for students planning to enter legal practice.

Formative Assessment and feedback:

Students will be given formative feedback over the course of the module.

Such feedback will be delivered during the tutorial/workshop sessions, following specific assessments (both formative and summative) and through appointment.

Module aims

  • Outline 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.
  • Equip students with the skills to carry out a methodical and legalistic evaluation of criminal liability.
  • Introduce the theoretical foundations of criminal law and encourage engagement with ideas about the nature, purpose and scope of the criminal law.

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:

  • Lectures in which core information and ideas will be disseminated.

  • Tutorials in which facilitate the exploration of ideas and concepts in greater depth.

  • 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.

The methods of teaching and learning are designed to promote students’ resourcefulness and digital capabilities whilst promoting sustainable thinking 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

The School of Law is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, 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:


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 with International Relations 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 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 (Law, Environment and Sustainability Pathway) 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 2025/6 academic year.