Skip to main content

Unit information: Criminal Law in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Criminal Law
Unit code LAWD10014
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Jennifer Collins
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This course is concerned with the substantive criminal law of England and Wales, introducing students to general principles of criminal liability alongside study of particular offences. Topics include: the main concepts and principles which govern the construction of criminal liability – conduct, fault, causation, complicity, defences to criminal liability; homicide; non-fatal offences; inchoate offences; offences of dishonesty.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • When presented with a set of facts:
    • identify the criminal law issues arising from those facts;
    • cite relevant case law and statutory authority;
    • explain how that authority applies to the issues raised by the facts, or how the facts may be distinguished
    • draw a reasoned conclusion as to how those issues may be resolved.
  • When presented with a proposition on an aspect of criminal law:
    • present arguments for and against the proposition, citing relevant authorities and the views of other writers, and assessing the weight of their arguments;
    • cite judicial and statutory authorities which support or rebut the proposition;
    • examine any relevant reform proposals;
    • draw a reasoned conclusion as to whether you agree or disagree with the proposition.
  • State the law accurately
  • Apply legal principles to problem case scenarios
  • Think critically about ways in which the law could be reformed.

Teaching details

30 x 50 minute lectures and 8 x 50 minute tutorials.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: one mid-sessional examination in January plus one other piece of formative work.

The (formative) mid-sessional exam is mandatory; the other formative assessment is optional.

Summative assessment: one three-hour examination in May/June, in which students answer 4 questions (at least one essay and at least one problem) from a choice of 8 questions. Students may take unannotated statutes into the examination.

The examination includes both problem type and essay type questions, designed to assess both whether students were able to understand and apply the law across the breadth of the syllabus, and whether they were able to think critically about it. The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

  • J. Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials (OUP 7th edition 2016)
  • J. Horder, Ashworth’s Principles of Criminal Law (OUP 8th edition 2016)
  • D. Ormerod and K. Laird, Smith and Hogan’s Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (OUP 11th edition 2014)
  • N. Lacey, C. Wells & O. Quick Reconstructing Criminal Law: Text and Materials (CUP 4th edition 2010)
  • P. Glazebrook (ed), Blackstone's Statutes on Criminal Law 2016-2017 (OUP 2016)