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Unit information: Criminal Law in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 Professor. Bibbings
Open unit status Not open




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


This course introduces 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.

2 formative assessments: 1 x 1,000 word coursework and 1 x 1 hour exam in the January Examination Period.

Formative assessments do not count towards final mark and can be optional.

Assessment Details

1 x formative assessment (submitted for marking), plus additional informal formative feedback opportunities as indicated by the unit coordinator.

Formative assessments do not count towards final mark and can be optional.

1 summative assessment: 1 x 2 hour exam in the Summer Examination Period.

Summative assessments do count towards final mark.

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

Reading and References

  • J. Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials (latest addition)
  • J. Horder, Ashworth’s Principles of Criminal Law (latest addition)
  • D. Ormerod and K. Laird, Smith and Hogan’s Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (latest edition)
  • A.P. Simester, J.R. Spencer, F. Stark, G.R. Sullivan and G.J. Virgo, Simester and Sullivan’s Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine (latest edition)
  • N. Lacey, C. Wells & O. Quick Reconstructing Criminal Law: Text and Materials (latest edition)
  • P. Glazebrook (ed), Blackstone's Statutes on Criminal Law (latest edition)