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LAW2160 : Criminal Law

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Ms Samantha Ryan
  • Lecturer: Dr Nikki Godden-Rasul, Dr Kevin Crosby
  • Teaching Assistant: Mr Elliot Winter, Mr Andrew Beetham
  • Other Staff: Mrs Beverley Smith
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1. To acquire knowledge and understanding of the criminal law
2. To further develop critical, legal analytical and problem-solving skills

The study of criminal law concerns itself with the rules that are applied to establish criminal liability. It is thus different to civil law, such as the law of contract, in that the aim of civil law is compensation whereas the aim of criminal law is primarily punishment. The objectives of the course are designed to develop a knowledge of the criminal justice system and the basic principles of criminal liability; a knowledge of the most important criminal offences; an ability to identify and analyse criminal law issues in factual situations; an ability to identify and discuss moral and philosophical issues associated with the imposition of criminal liability; and a development of research, writing and oral skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

The General Part

Introduction: the concept of crime; the function of the criminal law; the process of Criminalisation; elements of crime.

Actus Reus: definition; voluntariness; omissions; causation;

Mens Rea: definition of terms (intention, recklessness, negligence)

The Substantive Part

Homicide: murder; voluntary manslaughter; involuntary manslaughter

Non-fatal violent offences, assault and battery; aggravated assaults; malicious wounding and wounding with intent.

Sexual offences: rape and sexual assault.

Defences: Public/Private Defence, Insanity Automatism.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The principal teaching method is lectures. Students develop their knowledge base and their analytical and critical skills through preparation for the lecture. Preparation is guided and supported by detailed handouts in advance of the lectures. Within the lectures questions and answers are built on by further exposition by the lecturer. The seminars provide the opportunity to develop oral, analytical, critical and problem-solving skills. Discussion is structured to consider questions focusing on key principles and problem scenarios. Private study takes the form of directed study in advance of lectures, consolidation following lectures, and preparation for seminars and the coursework exercises.

'Drop-in/surgery' contact time is provided in this module as part of the Law School assessment and feedback policy such that markers and/or module leaders will offer the opportunity for one-to-one oral feedback on students' written work, in addition to written feedback on coursework front sheets and generic class feedback. The time given above is merely indicative and more time may be scheduled if necessary to meet the demand for individual feedback.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A67Students will be required to answer two questions from a choice of four.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M332000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The primary means of assessment is an unseen examination. This provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a broad range of topics within the syllabus. It also provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate their critical, analytical, evaluative and problem-solving skills and their ability to write with care and precision and to structure their argument and analysis. The secondary means of assessment is coursework involving an individual essay. The essay provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate in depth their knowledge and understanding of a discrete topic based on their research of primary and secondary sources. In writing the essay they will also have the opportunity to demonstrate their written skills and the cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis, critical judgement and evaluation.

Reading Lists