Module Catalogue

LAW2260 : Criminal Law

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Available for Study Abroad and Exchange students, subject to proof of pre-requisite knowledge.
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Bethany Simpson
  • Lecturer: Ms Samantha Ryan
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of the course are as follows:

1.       To introduce students to the substantive criminal law of England & Wales through the study of basic principles/elements of criminal liability, key offences and some partial and general defences;

2.       To encourage students to consider the above in a critical and evaluative way by analysing key legal decisions and statutory law and by engaging with wider academic commentary and law reform proposals;

3.       To promote deeper thinking and critical analysis of the criminal law by highlighting thematic frameworks within which to consider the law being studied. The use of overarching themes such as objective versus subjective approaches to liability, law and gender, law and emotion, law and autonomy and heteronormativity provide a means of conceptualizing topics, seeing connections between topics as well as identifying underlying motivations for, or consequences of, specific criminal laws;

4.       To enable students to apply their knowledge in a clear, logical and critical manner to factual scenarios and to write about criminal law issues in an informed, precise and critical manner both independently and as a part of a group

5.       To encourage independent thought and an enquiring mind so that students can draw upon a range of relevant sources in ways that make it possible for them to articulate their own view on the law being studied or on possible reform

6.       To provide a sufficient knowledge and understanding of key elements of criminal law so that students will be able to engage with new or unfamiliar criminal offences in the future

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will introduce students to the basic elements of criminal liability:

*       Introduction – What is a crime?

*       Actus Reus – Acts, Omissions, and Causation

*       Mens Rea – Intention, Recklessness, and Transferred Malice

The module will then cover a range of offences and defences from the list below – note not all topics listed below will be covered in a given year. The precise topics to be covered will be listed in the module handbook for the relevant academic year

*       Murder

*       Manslaughter (Voluntary Manslaughter – loss of control and diminished responsibility and Involuntary Manslaughter – Unlawful and Dangerous Act Manslaughter and Gross Negligence Manslaughter).

*       Non-Fatal Offences against the Person and Consent – Offences against the Person (assault, battery, ABH and GBH), and Consent
*       Sexual Offences (Rape)

*       General Defences – Self-Defence, Duress
*       Capacity – Intoxication, Insanity and Automatism

*       Theft and Robbery

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Preparation for written assessment and exam
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:00Combination of short recordings and text made available via Canvas to support lecture content
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture251:0025:001 hour in person lectures – on a twice weekly basis. With 3 additional lectures at various points in the semester to cover introduction to the module and coursework feedforward and feedback
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:005 x 1 hour seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1106:00106:00Combination of own reading, seminar preparation and revision.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures: There will be 25 one-hour lectures delivered in person. The majority of the lectures will deliver the substantive content of the module setting out and explaining the essential content, highlighting issues of controversy and where further reading and research is necessary. The aim of the lectures is to help students achieve the intended knowledge outcomes set out above and providing the foundational basis for the intended skills outcomes set out above. In addition a number of lectures focused on assessment will be provided aimed at ensuring students are aware of what the focus and purpose of assessment is, what is expected and how to prepare and do well.

Small group teaching: There will be 5 one-hour small group classes. The seminars will provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge to problem based questions and obtain feedback on their approach. The seminars also provide students with the opportunity to discuss key cases, wider reading, learn from each other and to clarify any issues. The seminars help deliver the skills outcomes outlined above and help students prepare for the assessment.

Structured Guided Learning: combination of pre-recorded material and text to supplement lectures and MCQs to test knowledge and understanding of substantive content.

Independent Study: There are 106 hours allocated to independent guided study and 60 hours to coursework preparation and writing and exam revision and preparation. Students are supported with reading lists and hot topics on the substantive topics studied but also have freedom to pursue their own further reading on specific topics.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination14401A7524 hour take home paper. Students must answer 2 questions from a choice of 4. Each question has a word limit of 1500 words (+/- 10%). Students expected to complete exam within 4 hours.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M25Groups will be assigned by the teaching team and will be based on seminar groups (with 2 groups per seminar). The written exercise – a Group Case Report and Analysis will consist of a case summary, a brief literature review and a case analysis. 1500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exercise- The Group Case Report and Analysis provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their written, research and analytical skills and to demonstrate intended learning knowledge and skills outcomes.

The 24 hour take home paper enables students to demonstrate essential knowledge, understanding and skills. In particular, it tests knowledge and understanding across the wider curriculum content, it enables students to demonstrate problem solving skills, analytical skills, and written communications skills.

Reading Lists