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Study information

Criminal Law 1: Foundations

Module titleCriminal Law 1: Foundations
Module codeLAW1040C
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Caroline Keenan (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is designed as a practical introduction to law and to the field of criminal law in particular, enabling you to understand key legal concepts and their application to real life situations. The syllabus is structured around the questions of what ‘crime’ is and when criminal law can and should be used. These considerations tap into much bigger questions about what is just and fair and what role we think criminal law and the criminal justice system does, can, and should play in society.


This module is one of the seven foundations of legal knowledge required by the Bar Standards Board and it is therefore compulsory for all who wish to progress onto the vocational stage of training to become a barrister. Students interested in becoming solicitors under the Solicitors Qualifying Examination route should also take this module.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to make you fully conversant with the construction of criminal law operation of the criminal law within its social and criminal justice context    In this module you will also develop core skills in using current criminal law in response to potential real-life criminal events. You will develop foundational skills in thinking and writing like a lawyer and in legal problem solving . These skills are practiced in class and assessed in assessment. You will also work to develop core skills in case and statute reading and application which support legal research, enabling you to complete your own research project in ‘Criminal Law 2 – Companies & Organisations’. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. explain and apply specific criminal offences and defences.
  • 2. analyse the law in operation, in relation to criminal liability.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. use the IRAC method in legal writing at a foundation level
  • 4. read and apply case and statute at a foundation level

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. demonstrate understanding and use of feedback in written work

Syllabus plan

Please note:  this module syllabus (LAW1040C) is exclusively available to students on the Cornwall Campuses and differs materially from the criminal law syllabus of the Streatham Campus (LAW1003).

In this module we explore the foundations of criminal liability and the construction and application of criminal offences. Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover at least some of the following topics:   

  • The operation of the criminal justice system.
  • How crimes are defined in a common law legal system: (i)  the actus reus – criminal conduct (ii) mens rea – the requisite criminal mental state for liability and (ii) the absence of defence  
  • The application of criminal offences including (i) how non-fatal offences are constructed and questions of consent (ii)  homicide offences (iii) a selection of other types of offences relating to people and property as   
  • specific and general defences.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1510 x 1.5 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1510 x 1.5 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study1010 x 1 hour peer-led firm meetings
Guided Independent Study45Independent seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study65Assessment preparation and writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Weeks 2-6 Learning Portfolio 800 words1, 3-4Written tutor feedback
Group Problem scenario500 words1-4Oral and written self, peer and tutor feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Learning Portfolio1002,450 words1-5Written tutor feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Learning PortfolioLearning Portfolio 2,450 words1-5July reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


J. Loveless, M.Allen,C. Derry, Complete Criminal Law, (8th edn., OUP, 2023).

A P Simester, J R Spencer, F Stark, G R Sullivan, G J VirgoCriminal Law: Theory and Doctrine, (8th edn. Hart Publications, 2023)

J. Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 9th edn,OUP, 2020)

S. R. Kyd, T. Elliott and M. A. Walters Clarkson and Keating : Criminal Law (10th edn,Sweet and Maxwell  2020)

J. Horder, Ashworth’s Principles of Criminal Law, (10th edn, OUP, 2022)

D Ormerod and K Laird Smith, Hogan, & Ormerod's Criminal Law  16th ed. (OUP, 2021)

N. Monaghan, Criminal Law Directions, (7th edn. OUP, 2021).

P Joyce and W Laverick Criminal Justice - An Introduction (4th edn Routledge, 2023)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

You are expected to keep up to date with topical events. This is best done by reading newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian or The Independent. You may also find recent and current editions of specialist journals, in particular the Criminal Law Review and the Journal of Criminal Law are particularly useful.

Key words search

Criminal law, crime, law, Cornwall 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date