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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Criminal Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08142)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course considers the doctrines and principles of criminal law, and examines the scope and function of criminal law in society. The course explores concepts in criminal responsibility (including mens rea and strict liability); specific offences (such as homicide, assault, sexual offences, offences of dishonesty, property offences, and public order offences); and defences (including mental disorder offences, provocation, necessity, and duress).
Course description Through a combination of lectures and tutorials, students will be introduced to key concepts relating to the nature of crime and criminal responsibility. Following this, students will learn about specific offences (including homicide, assault, sexual offences, property offences and public order offences), defences (including provocation, mental disorder defences, self-defence, necessity and duress) and principles of criminal liability (including inchoate and derivative liability). The course aims to develop in students a sound understanding of each of these topics and the ability to apply this knowledge to factual scenarios. In addition, students will be encouraged to think critically about the criminal law and will therefore be expected to evaluate its doctrines and normative underpinnings.

The indicative teaching programme for the course is as follows:

- Introduction to criminal law
- The scope of criminal law
- Actus reus and causation
- Mens rea
- Homicide (including partial defences)
- Assault
- Sexual offences
- Property offences
- Defences
- Auxiliary offences

The course covers some sensitive material, which may impact on some students as a trigger in terms of previous experience. Announcements will be made at the start of the semester and before particular lectures cautioning students about the nature of the material addressed.

Students will be assessed by an examination which will count for 100% of the overall course assessment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  285
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 71 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Examination
Feedback Students will be able to complete a 1000 word written exercise, submitted to tutors in week 6 and returned in week 8.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have developed a clear understanding of the structure and principles of criminal law as well as deep knowledge of the basic rules of those subjects. These principles and concepts include: the nature of a crime and criminal responsibility, defences, crimes against the person and property, statutory offences, and the interaction with and relevance of human rights.
  2. Students should have developed the ability to analyse critically the criminal law, to reflect upon the normative bases of the criinal law, to research independently on issues of criminal law and to apply legal rules to ascertain the criminal responsibility of a given part in a scenario.
  3. Demonstrate a basic ability to think creatively by applying knowledge to problems and to provide accurate answers in written and oral form, present argument for or against a proposition in a dispassionate manner, apply knowledge and analysis creatively to complex situations in order to provide arguable solutions to concrete problems by presenting a range of viable options from a set of facts and law, and to think critically and make critical judgements on the relative and absolute merits of particular arguments and solutions.
  4. Reflect on their own learning, make use of and act on feedback, and act independently in planning and undertaking tasks.
  5. Have developed a basic understanding of the notion and basis for criminal responsibility, and the rationale for the general requirement of a 'guilty mind', and the relevance of human rights in shaping the criminal law.
Reading List
The core materials are
- TH Jones and MGA Christie, Criminal Law (5th ed, 2012)
- PR Ferguson and McDiarmid, Scots Criminal Law: A Critical Analysis (2nd ed, 2014)
- CHW Gane, CN Stoddart and J Chalmers, A Casebook on Scottish Criminal Law
- G H Gordon ed M G A Christie, The Criminal Law of Scotland (3rd ed) Vol. 2
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the following graduate attributes, personal and professional skills:
- Differentiate between and use appropriately primary and secondary sources of law, and identify, retrieve and use relevant and appropriately up-to-date legal information using paper and electronic sources by using sources that are up-to-date from relevant paper and electronic repositories; using sources that are appropriate to the context; using recognised methods of citation and reference; using sources that are current at the point of assessment; using sources to support arguments and conclusions.
- Apply knowledge and understanding of law to a situation of limited complexity in order to provide argued conclusions to concrete legal problems (actual or hypothetical).
- Identify accurately the issues which require to be researched, and to formulate them clearly.
- Analyse, evaluate, and interpret primary and secondary legal sources relevant to the topic studied.
- View critically existing legal rules.
- Recognise and rank arguments and evidence in terms of relevance and importance by: managing a volume of legal sources and to select key materials to construct answers to problems; identifying the legal problem from the information provided; addressing problems by reference to relevant material; bringing together and integrating information and material from a variety of different primary and secondary sources; applying knowledge and analysis of the law creatively to solve legal problems by presenting a range of viable options from a set of facts and law; and presenting, and evaluating, arguments for and against propositions.
- Be aware that arguments require to be supported by evidence, and therefore to produce a synthesis of relevant evidence (eg doctrinal and policy issues) in relation to a topic in order to allow the student to present and make a reasoned choice between alternative solutions.
- Make a critical judgment of the relative and absolute merits of particular arguments and solutions.
- Apply knowledge and analysis in a legal context.
- Act independently in planning and undertaking tasks in areas of law which he or she is studying or has already studied.
- Reflect on his or her own learning, and to seek and make use of feedback.
- Think critically about law and its place in society.
- Understand and use the English language proficiently in relation to legal matters, systematically structure academic writing, express views and ideas succinctly, pursue an argument with proper care and attention to academic literature and with proper recognition of counter-arguments.
- Present knowledge or an argument in a way which is comprehensible to its intended audience, directed to the concerns of that audience (both orally and in writing.
- Read and discuss legal materials which are written in technical and complex language.
- Produce a word-processed essay or other text and to present such work in an appropriate form.
- Use language proficiently in relation to legal matters and specifically to use appropriate legal terminology in work, and to use recognised methods of citation and reference.
- Demonstrate an ability to organise and prioritise time and effort effectively in the performance of the student┐s work.
- Display an informed knowledge and understanding of the social, economic, moral and ethical contexts in which law operates and how law responds to these social, economic, moral and ethical contexts by displaying legal knowledge in association with related policy, underlying social conditions, professional ethical issues and moral issues; and to respond to changes in law that arise from these contexts (for example by being able to remain up to date in considering primary and secondary material).
- Use electronic information retrieval systems, especially legal databases.
KeywordsCriminal Law
Course organiserDr Sharon Cowan
Tel: (0131 6)50 8000
Course secretaryMr Ryan McGuire
Tel: (0131 6)50 2399
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