LA0546 - Criminal Law [CPE FT, CPE DL,CPE EL]

SYNOPSIS OF MODULE

This is a core module on the Graduate Diploma in law.

The aim of the module is to familiarize students with key issues and topics in substantive criminal law. Students will consider the nature, scope and function of the criminal law and will then be introduced to fundamental concepts concerning the elements of criminal liability (actus reus and mens rea). They will then study key offences including homicide, offences against the person (non-fatal offences and sexual offences), property offences (including dishonesty offences and criminal damage offences). Key defences will also be introduced at appropriate points, including mistake, intoxication, automatism, duress, necessity, self-defence / prevention of crime and consent. Topics relevant to participation in crime and inchoate offences will also be covered.

Students will be introduced (where appropriate) to policy issues arising from the substantive law and will consider proposals for reform. Aspects of aspects of comparative law will also be discussed.

At the conclusion of the course, students should have an understanding of the fundamental principles of criminal law, knowledge of key offences and the ability to apply the law to the facts of given case scenarios.

The module will be taught by way of lectures and seminars. Students will be required to undertake independent learning in preparation for seminars. These will take the form of case studies in which students will begin to develop the ability to apply the law to the facts of a case. Students will also be required to explain and analyse the law in relation to given topics in the context of essay questions. They will participate in discussions about the theory of substantive criminal offences and defences.

Assessment will take the form of a three-hour, unseen examination.

INDICATIVE READING LIST OR OTHER LEARNING RESOURCES

Essential Reading
- McAlhone & Wortley, Criminal Law: The Fundamentals (latest edition), Sweet & Maxwell

Additional Reading
- Allen, Textbook on Criminal Law (latest edition), OUP
- Ormerod and Laird, Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law (latest edition) OUP
- Martin & Storey, Unlocking Criminal Law (latest edition) Hodder Arnold
- Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials (latest edition), OUP
Ormerod and Laird, Smith, Hogan and Ormerod: Text Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (latest edition) OUP

- Various articles from the Criminal Law Review, Journal of Criminal Law and other journals as directed.

OUTLINE SYLLABUS

1. Elements of criminal liability
- actus reus / external elements
- mens rea / mental element
- coincidence of actus reus and mens rea


2. Homicide
Murder
- actus reus elements: e.g. when does life begin / end; causation
- mens rea: e.g. meaning and proof of ‘malice aforethought’ and ‘intention’
Manslaughter
- voluntary manslaughter: emphasis on loss of control and diminished responsibility
- involuntary manslaughter: constructive manslaughter and killing by ‘gross negligence’ / recklessness


3. Liability in criminal law for omission to act


4. Criminal Damage
- consideration of simple and aggravated offences
- definition of terms such as ‘damage’, ‘property’ and ‘lawful excuse’


5. Non-fatal offences against the person
- assault and battery plus s.18, s.20 and s.47 Offences against the Person Act 1861: emphasis on the fault element and ‘unlawfulness’
- related defences: consent and self-defence / prevention of crime


6. Sexual offences
- nature and scope of offences including rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault and administering a substance with intent
- definition of central concepts such as ‘consent’ and ‘sexual
- evidential presumptions


7. Defences
- intoxication and automatism (in relation to which insanity will also be introduced) as ‘defences’ negating actus reus or mens rea
- duress and necessity as ‘general’ defences


8. Offences under the Theft Act 1968
- theft, robbery, and burglary


9. Accomplice liability
- the principles and rationale of accomplice liability with particular reference to the fault element in secondary liability and the law relating to ‘joint enterprise’


10. Inchoate offences
- liability for conspiracy and attempt

AIMS OF MODULE

The aims of the module are:

- to enable students to understand and appreciate the nature, scope and function of the criminal law;

- to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the modes of participation in crime;

- to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the fundamental elements of criminal offences;


- to enable students to recognise, define, apply and analyse key offences and defences;

- to encourage students to examine and critique fundamental concepts of the criminal law and principles of liability;

- to enable students to develop their ability to critically analyse the substantive criminal law;

- to encourage the students to use source materials effectively and to appreciate legal methodology.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

On completion of the criminal law module, students should be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles of criminal law;

- recognise and define key offences and defences;

- identify the legal issues arising in given case scenarios and apply relevant principles to the facts;

- be able to critically appraise developments in criminal law.

- use legal source materials effectively.

PREREQUISITES

Not Applicable.

COREQUISITE(S)

n/a

DISTANCE LEARNING DELIVERY

The module is offered by distance learning. Students who take the distance learning route are provided with a workbook, study schedule and a variety of other materials through the e-learning portal. They also attend the University for study days during the course of the academic year, during which they receive lectures and seminars. They will outline the fundamental principles applicable to each subject and will place these principles in context by examining cases and giving examples.

Lectures will introduce students to topics. Seminars will enable students to consolidate their learning by requiring students to participate in discussions of set questions. These take the form of either problem style questions, which require students to apply the law to a given factual scenario, or essay type questions, which provide a forum for discussion and critical analysis.

Students on the distance learning route will be expected to carry out a significant amount of independent learning. Their study schedule sets out the topics they will be expected to cover each week and refers them to the relevant chapters of the workbook. The workbook is available via the e-learning portal and contains hyperlinks to relevant cases and other material. It also refers students to the relevant chapters in the module textbook. There are three pieces of written work, which are a mixture of problem and essay type questions, for students to submit for feedback. These give students opportunities to check their understanding and knowledge of topics. Detailed feedback is provided to enable students to develop their understanding further.

LEARNING and TEACHING STRATEGY

The module will be delivered through lectures, seminars and independent learning.

Lectures:

These will be delivered to all students on the module and will be used to introduce students to each topic. They will outline the fundamental principles applicable to each subject and will place these principles in context by examining cases and giving examples. Lectures will address matters of current topical interest where applicable. Where relevant, students will be introduced to reform proposals, primarily in the form of Law Commission papers and reports, and comparative law.

Seminars

Seminars will expand on the material covered in lectures. Students will be expected to engage in discussion of set questions. They will emphasise the importance of research and will enable students to apply the law to given factual scenarios. They will also provide a forum for critical analysis of legal rules, substantive law, policy considerations and reform proposals.

Independent learning

Students will also be expected to carry out independent learning to expand on the materials covered in the large group sessions and to prepare for seminars. Examples of independent learning include locating and reading relevant legal source material.



Students will receive written feedback on their timed test papers. Part of a lecture is devoted to giving general feedback on the timed test and an answer guide is available on the e-learning portal. Any further optional work that is submitted will be returned with written feedback. A general guide to answering questions in criminal law is also available on the e-learning portal, along with model answers to specific questions.

ASSESSMENT AND FEEDBACK STRATEGY

a Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

In the final semester there is a 3 hour written examination, which accounts for 100% of the marks.
Part A – worth 35% of the marks – comprises a compulsory extended problem question.
Part B – worth 35% of the marks – comprises two essay questions, from which students must select one question.
Part C – worth 30% of the marks – comprises 20 compulsory problem-based multiple choice questions.

b. Additional formative assessment - detail of process and rationale

A timed test is set in during the first term. The test will require students to answer a problem type question. Additionally, there are two set questions that students have the option of submitting. Students are also able to submit formal answers to their seminar questions to their tutor. Past papers are available on the e-learning portal.

A selection of problem-based based multiple choice questions will be used in teaching.

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

Full time students will receive written feedback on their timed test papers. Part of a lecture is devoted to giving general feedback on the timed test and an answer guide is available on the e-learning portal. Distance learning students have the opportunity to submit three pieces of written work and will receive written feedback on these. Answer guides are available on the e-learning portal. A general guide to answering questions in criminal law is also available on the e-learning portal, along with model answers to specific questions.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CHOICE

N/A

Course info

Credits 15

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.

 

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