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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5065M Central Issues in Criminal Law

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Peter Whelan
Email: P.Whelan@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: 1 Apr to 31 Aug View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module analysis some of the most important issues in criminal law and the extent to which they can be resolved in practice. The issues to be studied include: the decision to employ the criminal law; the concept of criminal conduct; capacity; fault; moral neutrality; complicity; and the concept of a defence. The main focus is on the criminal law of England and Wales, although other jurisdictions (such as the United States) are also considered. Students will consider a different issue per seminar and will obtain a firm understanding of the key principles, approaches and concepts that can be relied upon to resolve the issues under discussion. This module would be of interest to students who wish to obtain a robust introduction to the key principles, approaches and concepts that inform the criminal law. No prior knowledge of criminal law is necessary for this module.

Objectives

This module will introduce students to some of the fundamental principles, approaches and concepts underpinning the criminal law by exploring a discrete set of (important and complex) issues which concern the substantive content of this law. In particular it examines issues such as: how does one rationalise the decision to criminalise behaviour; how does one conceptualise the notion of 'criminal conduct'; how should an individual's capacities influence her criminal liability; how should the concept of 'fault' influence the substance of the criminal law; the extent to which 'moral neutrality' is problematic in the context of criminal offences; how should complicity be dealt with; and how should one conceptualise the notion of a 'defence'.

Although this module will focus mainly on the criminal law of England and Wales, other jurisdictions (such as the United States, for example) will be considered when relevant.

The central goal of the module is to provide the students with a robust introduction to the key principles, approaches and concepts in (substantive) criminal law. In addition however, students will not only be expected to understand these principles, approaches, concepts, they must also be prepared to question and critique them in a logical, reasoned manner.

Learning outcomes
After completing this module successfully the students will have:

- achieved an understanding of important complex issues facing the operation of the criminal law;
- achieved an understanding of the main principles underlying the criminal law;
- achieved an understanding of how these principles can impact upon the substance of the criminal law;
- achieved an understanding of the main concepts and approaches underlying the criminal law;
- achieved an understanding of the substance of some fundamental criminal offences;
- achieved fluency in the language/terminology of the criminal law;
- developed the ability to be critical of the law.


Syllabus

The seminars will be divided into two separate parts. The first part will involve the presentation of essential information by the module leader. The second part will involve group discussion of a case study. Students are expected to have completed their reading prior to the seminars.

The following is a (provisional) outline of the seminars:

Seminar 1: 'The Decision to Resort to the Criminal Law'
- Theoretical justifications for criminal sanctions: deterrence; retribution; incapacitation; treatment…
- Central case study for discussion: criminalising cartel activity (price-fixing)

Seminar 2: 'The Concept of Criminal Conduct'
- Voluntary/involuntary conduct
- Causation
- Central case study for discussion: omissions and the existence/non-existence of a positive duty to act

Seminar 3: 'Capacity and the Criminal Law'
- Capacity and the age of criminal responsibility
- Central case study for discussion: corporate liability

Seminar 4: 'Fault and the Criminal Law'
- Varieties of mens rea
- Links with negative quality of the conduct
- Central case study for discussion: the concept of 'intention' in murder

Seminar 5: 'Moral Neutrality and the Criminal Law'
- How to determine moral neutrality
- Whether moral neutrality is problematic
- Central case study for discussion: criminal cartel activity and its 'moral wrongfulness'

Seminar 6: 'Complicity and the Criminal Law'
- Derivative liability and its rationalisation
- Central case study for discussion: joint enterprise

Seminar 7: 'The Concept of a Defence'
- Defining a 'defence'
- Specific defences and their rationalisation in principle
- Central case study for discussion: consent to offences against the person; R v. Brown

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Workshop11.001.00
Seminar72.0014.00
Private study hours135.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

15 hours of preparation and subsequent reflection for each seminar.
30 hours of preparation for the summative coursework.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress will be monitored through attendance at and participation in the seminars.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 09:50:04

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