Year 1: Criminal Law



Credit value: 1.0 (30 credits, 15 ECTS)
Convenor: Jonathan Rogers, Mark Dsouza
Other Teachers:  
Teaching Delivery: 1 lecture per week (entire cohort), 1 tutorial every two weeks (max. 8 per tutorial)
Who may enrol: All first year students enrolled on a UCL LLB programme
Prerequisites: N/A
Must not be taken with: N/A
Qualifying module for: LLB
Introductory video N/A
Practice Assessment: 2 x formative essays, 1 mid-sessional exam
Final Assessment: 100% examination
Module Overview
Module summary:

This course is concerned with the substantive criminal law of England and Wales. We shall focus upon the definitions of the more serious crimes and the defences which can be raised to deny liability. Note that this excludes the study of why some people commit crimes, and how they should be sentenced (this would be criminology) and also the details of how the prosecution can “prove” their case (this will be pursued in the optional third year course of evidence). Nor will we say much about criminal procedure, though there is an introductory document on the moodle website on classifications of offences, powers of arrest and the appeal system which you should read (and reread, over the year). Nonetheless, occasionally a few words will be said in lectures of matters relating to sentencing (e.g, to explain why the substantive law of murder is so peculiar) and also of some matters of proof (e.g, to explain why it is often not so difficult for the prosecution to establish that the defendant “intended” or “foresaw” some result of his actions). Even so the criminal law course focuses upon what the prosecution needs to prove, and we will only digress from that in order to help you to understand the substantive law itself.


The perspective of this course is mainly analytical. Thus, we shall analyse the doctrines of the criminal law in terms of their meaning and application, and you will regularly be asked to analyse “problem” (or, “scenario”) questions in tutorials. But we shall also discuss critically the underlying theory of the doctrines with reference to theories of basic principles of criminal justice. By the end of the course, you may understand the answer given by the late Professor Sir John C Smith (who wrote leading textbooks in both criminal law and contract) to a student who asked him why he eventually concentrated on criminal law: “there is more to do and to say in criminal law, because there is so much more that is wrong with it!”

Module aims:

The objectives of the course are that students should acquire:


(a)   knowledge and understanding of the principal doctrines of criminal liability and their underlying theory, as listed on the lecture handouts

(b)   the ability to apply their knowledge of criminal law accurately to the solution of problems and to present reasoned argument on doubtful or controversial points;

(c)   the ability to discuss, in an informed, coherent and critical way, issues of criminal law doctrine, drawing upon all the materials in the lecture handouts and upon materials discovered in the student’s own research.

Recommended materials:
Preliminary reading: