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Unit information: Crime, Justice and Society in 2018/19

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Unit name Crime, Justice and Society
Unit code LAWD20034
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Torrible
Open unit status Not open

LAWD10014 Criminal Law



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


This unit builds upon a prior understanding of substantive principles of criminal law in order to expand and deepen knowledge and understanding, and to consider the operation of criminal law in society. In particular, the unit emphasises the notion of criminalisation and focuses upon the boundaries of criminality, both through looking critically at the process by which certain types of behaviour become defined as criminal and some do not, and through looking at the discretionary processes through which law is (or is not) enforced in practice.

CJS is an advanced criminal law unit which builds on your knowledge and understanding from criminal law. It adds to your studies to date by:

  • examining aspects of offences already studied in greater depth (e.g. homicide in relation to corporate manslaughter, homicide in relation to medical criminality, offences against the person in relation to domestic violence);
  • looking at other offences (e.g. sexual offences, bribery);
  • examining criminal law in context and in practice (that is, looking at what actually happens - as well as studying statute and case law).
  • Overarchingly, it takes a socio-legal approach.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Research aspects of criminal law, criminal justice and policy (and other relevant areas of law and policy) on their own
  • Evaluate their findings and present them in essays
  • When presented with a proposition on an aspect of crime, criminal law or criminal justice: present arguments for and against the proposition, citing relevant authorities (both from the unit and from their own independent research), including the views of writers and the findings of studies from a range of relevant disciplines, and assess the weight of their arguments
  • Locate and confidently discuss any relevant reform proposals
  • Draw a reasoned conclusion as to whether they agree or disagree with the proposition.

Teaching details

20 lectures and 8 tutorials, plus 5 lectures in the Foundations of Legal Research programme

Assessment Details

1 formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word coursework. Formative assessments do not count towards final mark and can be optional.

2 summative assessments: 2 x 2,000 word coursework. Summative assessments do count towards final mark.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

There is no textbook for CJS, although sometimes you will be referred to a chapter of a textbook – and you may sometimes find it helpful to look back at criminal law textbooks and notes.

Key texts include: Lacey, Wells and Quick, Reconstructing Criminal Law, 4th Edition (Cambridge: CUP, 2010); Sanders, Young and Burton, Criminal Justice, 5th Edition (Oxford: OUP, 2015). Further suggestions for reading are provided on lecture presentations and tutorial worksheets.

Journals that you are likely to find helpful in researching your essays include:

- British Journal of Criminology

- Howard Journal of Criminal Justice

- Criminal Law Review

Lectures also provide sources of information and suggest research possibilities.