Aberystwyth University GDL

By | 3rd April 2017

Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University GDL

 

Module Identifier
LP30320
Module Title
Criminal Law for GDL Students
Academic Year
2016/2017
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Co-Requisite
LP30105, LP30220, LP30420, LP30520, LP30620, LP30720, LP30820, LP30920
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Assessment

Assessment TypeAssessment length / detailsProportion
Semester AssessmentEssay  of 1,000 words20%
Semester Exam2 Hours   Exam80%
Supplementary AssessmentEssay  if element failed20%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours   Exam  if element failed80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Evaluate and analyse critically the scope and purpose of the criminal law, with reference to historical development, current problems and the possibilities for reform;
2. Identify and explain the fundamental principles of criminal law and critically analyse their relevance and application;
3. Identify and analyse the elements forming the basis of criminal liability, namely the conduct element and the mental element;
4. Identify and explain the relevant constitutive elements of major offences and defences and be able to apply them to factual situations in order to solve problems;
5. Construct convincing and cogent arguments on the basis of relevant law and available evidence.

In so doing students will develop the following skills:
A. Reading and comprehension of cases and other legal texts;
B. Written and oral expression;
C. Critical and contextual analysis;
D. Interpretation and application of legal rules.

Content

1. The Nature of Criminal Law
(The meaning and scope of crime; The role of Criminal Law in society; Fundamental principles of criminal law)2. Elements of a Criminal Offence
(Actus Reus (Commission and omission; State of affairs offences; Conduct and result crimes; Causation; Voluntariness and automatism); Mens Rea (Different forms of mens rea; Intention; Foresight; Recklessness (Cunningham and Caldwell distinguished); Crimes of Strict Liability; Negligence)

3. Homicide
(Varieties of unlawful homicide; Murder; Killing as a result of a loss of control; Killing due to diminished responsibility; Constructive manslaughter; Reckless manslaughter; Gross negligence manslaughter)

4. Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person
(Assault and battery; Assault occasioning actual bodily harm; Wounding and grievous bodily harm; Other violent offences)

5. Sexual Offences
(Rape; Unlawful sexual intercourse and other sexual offences)

6. Theft and Offences Against Property
(Theft; Robbery; Burglary; Making off without payment; Fraud offences)

7. Inchoate Offences
(Assisting and encouraging; Common law and statutory conspiracies; Attempt)

8. Participation in Crime
(Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring; Mens rea of participants; Withdrawal from participation; Joint enterprise)

9. Capacity and Defences
(Mental illness/insanity; Intoxication; Self defence; Duress; Necessity; Mistake; Automatism)

Brief description

The course will not attempt to deal with all or even most of the specific offences known to English and Welsh law. There are too many such offences. The emphasis is on the underlying principles. Can criminal liability be incurred without proof of fault or of criminal intent? Will a person be deemed to “intend” a consequence where he knew it to be an inevitable side effect of his intended behaviour? Can ignorance of the law ever amount to a defence? What if a person sets out to commit a certain crime, but abandons the idea before completing it?

Although the emphasis is on general principles, these cannot be taught or understood without reference to specific offences, and a significant number of these offences will be studied in depth. Homicide, for example, can be used to illustrate and explain a wide range of principles. Killings may be lawful or unlawful; deliberate or accidental; pre-meditated or the result of sudden provocation. The killer may be drunk or sober or insane; the victim may die at once, or may die later as the result of medical negligence.

There is another reason for studying a fairly wide range of offences. A criminal lawyer needs to be aware of the fact that, where one offence cannot be made out on the evidence available, it is possible that another, slightly different offence can be made out. A charge of aggravated burglary might succeed where one of robbery would fail.

The course exposes students to complex problems of statutory interpretation, and requires the study of a great deal of case law, much of it contradictory and unsound. Students must be prepared to question and criticise the law, whilst at the same time attempting to understand it.

Module Skills

Skills TypeSkills details
Application of Number
CommunicationPreparation for, and discussion, in seminars.
Improving own Learning and PerformancePost-lecture research and seminar preparation.
Information TechnologyPost-lecture research and seminar preparation.
Personal Development and Career planningLearning throughout the module will be relevant to a career in the legal profession.
Problem solvingPreparation for and discussion of problem-solving questions in seminars.
Research skillsPost-lecture research and seminar preparation.
Subject Specific SkillsLegal research: use of specifically designed legal databases as a resource for statute and case law.
Team workSeminar work: preparation and group discussions.