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Study information

Criminal Law 1: Foundations

Module titleCriminal Law 1: Foundations
Module codeLAW1040C
Academic year2024/5
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 application of criminal law in principle and in practice. These considerations tap into much bigger questions about  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

This module aims to introduce you to the operation of the criminal law within its social and criminal justice context.   In this module you will  develop foundation skills in using current criminal law in response to real-life criminal events. You will develop foundational skills  in legal problem solving. These skills are practiced in class and assessed in assessment. You will  develop core skills in case and statute note taking, analysis and application. These skills also 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. use legal authority at a foundation level

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. create written notes usable for a given task
  • 6. Write precisely and concisely in the form appropriate to the given task

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  including policing, prosecuting crime and attrition rates
  • 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 (in both non-sexual and sexual non fatal offences)
    • (ii) harassment and stalking, coercive control and non-fatal aggravated offences
    • (iii) homicide offences, including murder, voluntary and non-voluntary manslaughter and assisting suicide.
    • (iv) a selection of other types of offences relating to people and property    
  • 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 activities1010 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities7.55 x 1.5 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study55 x 1 hour peer-led firm meetings
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2.5Skills and assessment lectures and workshops
Guided Independent Study62.5Preparation for scheduled learning and teaching sessions, including pre-reading and the completion of learning activities. Individual reading
Guided independent study62.5Assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Exam45 minutes1-2,4,6Self, 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
Exam1002 hours1-6Written tutor feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExamExam (2 hours)1-6Referral/Deferral 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 ( 11th edn,OUP, 2024)
  • S. R. Kyd, T. Elliott, M. A. Walters and D Bansal Clarkson and Keating : Criminal Law Text and Materials (11th edn,Sweet and Maxwell  2024)
  • 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).
  • J Child and D Ormerod Essentials of Criminal Law (5th edn, OUP 2023)
  • 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, criminal justice, law, Cornwall 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date