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Crime and Law


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a presentation (25%) and 2000-word workbook (75%)

Module description

Criminology and criminal justice are both distinct from criminal law, but at the same time they are intimately connected. The law plays a critical role in defining and constructing the subject and objects of concern within criminological studies. It also acts as a gatekeeper and regulator of the criminal justice system.

Consequently, an understanding of the foundations, principles and terminology of criminal law and being able to read and understand criminal law cases are essential tools for anyone interested in the theory and practice of the governance of crime. In this module we demystify the law and help you to not only understand it but also make informed opinions about it. You will gain an understanding of the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to the study of law and of the process of criminal law reform.

The first part of the module introduces key legal concept and principles; the second part enables you to explore a number of criminal law topics/case studies in depth.

Indicative syllabus

Introduction to the study of criminal law

  • Why study law?
  • Key concepts: actus reus and mens rea
  • Crimes against the person
  • Property offences
  • Defences

Case studies

  • Criminalising parents
  • Joint enterprise
  • Protest
  • Terrorism

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a comprehensive grounding in the major concepts and principles of the criminal law
  • place criminal law - and in particular the judicial and statutory process of criminalising and decriminalising - in a historical, ethical, social, political, cultural and economic context
  • appreciate the significance of legal doctrinal principles - and the limits to their coherency
  • understand the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to the study of law
  • understand the process of criminal law reform
  • explain, understand and reflect on the law’s response to various aspects of crime and criminal behaviour
  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding, and reflect critically on, at least one area of criminal law and criminal behaviour
  • understand and reflect critically on relevant criminal case law.