BASS Social Anthropology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Criminal Law (Criminology)

Unit code LAWS10082
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Law
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will examine general principles underpining criminal law as well as some of the core criminal offences (eg. murder, manslaughter, sexual offences, theft) and defences (eg loss of control, self defence, insanity).



This course unit aims to equip you with the ability to analyse the core criminal offences and defences of England and Wales, and to understand the role of criminal law within its wider social, political and moral context. It aims to enable you to develop a critical understanding of the general aims, values and principles of criminal law and to understand the content of selected specific criminal laws and to apply it to practical situations.

Learning outcomes




Teaching and learning methods

20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars.

Intellectual skills

- An ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the core criminal offences and defences.

- An ability to think critically about the values and principles that inform the criminal law.

- An ability to understand the role, and basis, of judicial law making in criminal law.

- A capacity to identify, analyse, evaluate and interpret significant legal, social, political and ethical issues pertaining to criminal law.

- A capacity to relate criminal law ‘in books’ to criminal law ‘in action’.

Practical skills

 - A capacity to provide reasoned and critical analysis of criminal law.

- A capacity to appraise historical, philosophical, social, and political arguments concerning the role of criminal law and its relationship to society.

- An ability to carry out independent library-based and electronic research.

- An ability to present argument coherently and fluently.

- An ability to structure argument and analysis.

- An ability to work in groups.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- An ability to engage in structured oral discussion.

- An ability to collect information from the sources available, including electronic resources.

- An ability to manage one’s own study-time and meet deadlines.

- An ability to discern between the merits or otherwise of competing arguments.

- An ability to present material orally in front of a small group.

Assessment methods

Formative: One 1,500 word essay or problem question from a choice of 4. 

Summative Assessment will be by way of one examination 100% (2 hour and 30 min). Students will answer 3 from a choice of 7 questions. 

Examination at the end of the semester.

Feedback methods

Feedback is provided in a number of ways:

- you will receive written and oral feedback on your formative assessment.

- feedback will be provided in seminars.

- past examination, an outline of issues, giving guidance on appropriate content for examination and answers will be provided.

Recommended reading

The current text is: N. Padfield 'Criminal Law' 10th Ed 2016 OUP

The following text is also highly recommended: J. Herring Criminal Law: Texts, Cases and Materials 6th edition (Oxford, 2014).

There are a number of other, good, textbooks on criminal law which you may choose to use. Please check the course outline before purchasing a textbook for this course.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2.3
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Geoff Pearson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Closed book examination.

Restricted to: BA (Criminology) for which this subject is compulsory;  BA (Econ) students (all pathways), BA Social Sciences (BASS). Other students may be accepted at the discretion of the course unit director.

This course is available to incoming study abroad students.

See Law School Timetable.

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