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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Criminal Law B: Doctrine and Theory (LAWS10254)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is concerned with questions of doctrine and theory: how does criminal law operate and how should the criminal law best be structured? The course will consist of an advanced exploration of key components of criminal law, such as criminal responsibility, causation, justifications and excuses, and an in-depth examination of particular sets of rules such as the definition of homicide, sexual offences, and selected defences.
Course description The course has the general learning objectives of developing deep knowledge and critical understanding of the doctrines and principles of criminal law, particularly in relation to criminal responsibility and to criminal offences and defences.

The course is taught through seminars, which take the form of an open discussion of the seminar topic. Reading lists will be available from the course website; students are expected to prepare by completing the required reading in advance of seminars. The handout includes questions around which seminars will be structured. Participation in class discussion is expected.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Criminal Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08142)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in and a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the School of Law , and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 5,000-word essay (100%)
Feedback A formative assessment will be set and circulated at the beginning of semester, with a deadline of mid-November. Feedback will be returned at the last class of the year. This will give students adequate time to reflect on and learn from this feedback, in preparation for the submission of the summative assessment in mid-January.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the structural components of criminal law, particularly in relation to Scotland but more generally in respect of the Anglo-American tradition.
  2. Show a familiarity with and understanding of the relevant case law and secondary commentary on each specific issue.
  3. Demonstrate an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of various ways of structuring the criminal law in these areas, and the ability to evaluate critically the alternative approaches, drawing on comparative insights.
  4. Have a well-developed ability to carry out research and to communicate that clearly.
Reading List
Aside from the readings for each seminar, there is no prescribed text for the course, though the following general texts are well worth consulting:

1. J Horder, Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law, 10th edn (Oxford University Press 2022)
2. P Ferguson and C McDiarmid, Scots Criminal Law: A Critical Analysis, 2nd ed (Dundee University Press 2014)
3. M Christie and TJ Jones (eds.) GH Gordon, The Criminal Law of Scotland, 3rd edn (Sweet and Maxwell 2000 and 2001, two vols and supplements).
4. JJ Child, AP Simester, JR Spencer, F Stark, and GJ Virgo, Simester and Sullivan's Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine, 8th edn (Hart Bloomsbury 2013)
5. W Wilson, Central Issues in Criminal Theory (Hart 2002)

Students may also find it helpful to consult the Scottish Criminal Case Reports for details of recent developments in Scots criminal law, along with relevant journals such as the Criminal Law Review. In addition to UK-based journals, the New Criminal Law Review (previously the Buffalo Criminal Law Review) and the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law may both be of interest.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Gabrielle Watson
Course secretaryMiss Lauren McCrory-Irving
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