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Study information

Criminal Law

Module titleCriminal Law
Module codeLAW3003
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Lisa Cherkassky (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Crimes are the laws with the most serious consequences: commit a crime, and you could go to prison, even for the rest of your life. So pervasive is the criminal law that most people who have never studied law before are already aware of a range of crimes. In this module, we start by drawing upon your background awareness of criminal law, or at least your sense of right and wrong, and from there build a methodical knowledge and useable understanding of some of the major crimes found in the law of England and Wales. This module is an opportunity for you to explore the legal details and moral underpinnings of crimes such as murder, rape, theft and criminal damage, and the defences which may be available to those who commit them. You will be encouraged to adopt a critical attitude towards the criminal law, reflecting on why the law is written and implemented as it is, and what difficulties are encountered when the legal principles are applied in practice. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module you will cover the core elements of some of the major crimes in the law of England and Wales. The emphasis will be on understanding how the criminal law can be applied to real-life ‘problem’ scenarios. You will also be encouraged to reflect on whether or not the law could be improved, and even propose some creative new approaches. In particular, the module aims to enable you to:


(a)   Communicate knowledge and understanding of the major principles and controversies of the criminal law syllabus.


(b)   Identify the relevant issues from the criminal law syllabus which arise in a problem or essay question.


(c)   Analyse, evaluate and apply the criminal law syllabus in context to reach conclusions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate in-depth understanding of the general concepts and principles governing the criminal law, their derivation and the various theories that encapsulate and attempt to systematise them;
  • 2. demonstrate detailed knowledge of the law governing the offences and defences covered on the module, including areas of growth or areas in need of reform;
  • 3. demonstrate a critical understanding of the importance of non-legal/contextual materials, including academic commentaries, and be able to use them effectively to produce an academic argument.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of a range of legal rules, concepts, values and principles, and be able to explain and discuss the relationships among them;
  • 5. identify and apply the relevant law to make an informed judgement about the merits and relevance of particular information and make reasoned choices between alternative solutions or arguments;
  • 6. communicate technical legal information and argument effectively and concisely, in a manner appropriate to the discipline.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. take responsibility for your own learning and manage time efficiently in preparing for learning activities, and to work independently within a limited time frame to complete a specified task;
  • 8. identify, retrieve and use efficiently a range of resources with minimal guidance;
  • 9. work effectively with others within a group, meeting obligations to the other members of the group.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Homicide
  • Non-fatal offences
  • Sexual offences
  • Theft, Robbery and Burglary
  • Criminal damage
  • Defences
  • Inchoate Offences
  • Complicity

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 teaching and learning (synchronous)4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study (asynchronous)176Preparation for seminars
Guided independent study80Preparation of assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan500 words1-9Written 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
Essay301,000 words1-9Written feedback
Examination (take-home, open book)702 hours intended duration (within a 24-hour submission window)1-9Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (1,000 words)1-9August / September reassessment period
Examination (take-home, open book)Examination (take-home, open book; same as above)1-9August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading – latest editions of:


Herring, Criminal Law: Text Cases and Materials (Oxford University Press) 


For further reference:


Herring, Great Debates: Criminal Law (Palgrave)


Horder, Ashworth’s Principles of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press)


Ormerod (ed), Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law (Oxford University Press)


Simester et al, Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine (Hart)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Key words search

Law, crime, criminal

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date