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The University of Southampton

LAWS1020 Criminal Law

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the substantive criminal law, and to fundamental aspects of criminal law in its broader criminal justice and societal context. It will examine the use of criminal law, and its associated processes, as a mode of governing individual and social conduct. It will provide: a critical introduction to principles and practices of criminalisation; a critical introduction to the doctrinal 'building blocks' of criminal liability and responsibility, and the opportunity to apply these "building block" principles, as well as the contextual material, to selected case studies. It also focuses on providing a foundation in the key LLB Programme and QA Law Benchmark skills learning outcomes of: 'developing an ability to produce a synthesis of relevant doctrinal and policy issues, presentation of a reasoned choice between alternative solutions and critical judgement of the merits of particular arguments.'; and 'developing the ability to apply knowledge and understanding to offer evidenced conclusions, addressing complex actual or hypothetical problems.'

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the legal and philosophical principles that can be used to justify decisions to criminalize or decriminalize conduct;
  • the arguments for and against the use criminal law to regulate individual and social conduct;
  • the key doctrinal building blocks of criminal liability and responsibility;
  • how to state, with reference to the relevant statutes if necessary, the requirements of criminal liability for selected key criminal offences;
  • how to state, with reference to the relevant statutes if necessary, the requirements of: any defence, whether generally or specifically to one of the selected offences, to criminal liability and the law concerning criminal causation (of harm or loss) and the proof, and onus thereof, of guilt;
  • how to explain the reasons for, the problems arising in, and the legal solutions for (actual and mooted) the key cases identified in the module.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate the given justifications for the criminalization or decriminalization of certain forms of conduct;
  • consider relevant doctrinal, social and policy issues, with reference to relevant data, in order to present a reasoned choice between alternative solutions, and assess the merits of particular arguments, regarding a mooted criminalization or decriminalization;
  • identify and apply the key doctrinal building blocks of criminal liability in case study of selected offences;
  • identify the requirements, for criminal liability, of a crime or defence in a statute or at common law, (statutory analysis);
  • identify the salient parts, for the purposes of determining criminal liability, of judicial decisions, (case law analysis);
  • identify and explain why particular facts, in an actual or hypothetical situation, might give rise to criminal liability, a defence to criminal liability, or a problem with criminal liability or a defence thereto (problem analysis).
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • locate and analyse relevant legal and other primary and secondary source materials;
  • distinguish relevant from irrelevant materials;
  • identify and analyse key issues in a previously unseen set of facts;
  • think critically and develop coherent arguments;
  • manage your time effectively.


- Legal and philosophical justifications for criminalisation or decriminalisation - The strengths and weaknesses of criminal law as a mode of governance - Introduction to the key doctrinal building blocks of criminal liability and responsibility - Liability for Omissions - Causation - Intention - Recklessness - Homicides, murder and manslaughter, - Offences against the person (sections 18, 20 and 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, section 1, or at common law, - Sexual offences - Property Offences - Substantive and Partial Defences

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Two hours of lectures each week and ten hours of tutorials per semester. Learning activities include: The objective for the lectures, and your independent work which will precede and follow them, is to provide an overview of the key primary and secondary sources on the topic and to identify key issues prior to you undertaking higher order applied work in the small group tutorial sessions. Skills, such as, legal problem analysis and critical analysis of law and policy, are developed incrementally. The emphasis throughout is developing these skills through practice and reflection. Formative exercises are designed to facilitate that learning.

Preparation for scheduled sessions150
Follow-up work18
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

It is also recommended that you purchase an unannotated criminal law statute book (around £12.00). 

The module will also be supported by provisions in the Blackboard VLE.. 

A criminal law textbook priced for the student market (around £25 - £35 ) will be selected.. 



Peer Group Feedback


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate. The costs for the new print copies key text books are outlined in the resources section.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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