Skip to main content

Unit information: Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in 2015/16

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 and Criminal Justice
Unit code LAWDM0086
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Russell
Open unit status Not open




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


This course develops a contextual and critical approach to understanding the criminal law and criminal justice. In particular, it focuses on the different ways in which we try to make sense of criminal law and criminal justice, including the structure of criminal liability (inchoate offences, complicity and defences), and specific areas such as violence, homicide and property offences.

Students should be advised that it is most appropriate for students who have not previously studied English/Welsh Criminal Law.

Intended learning outcomes

The unit aims to develop an understanding of criminal law and develop a contextual approach to the study of crime, criminal law and criminal process, along with associated socio-political and theoretical perspectives. After completing the unit, students will be able to: (i) display a general knowledge of the principles of English criminal law and process, (ii) appreciate the contextual background to the construction of crime, criminal law and the workings of the criminal justice system,

(iii) research further material in the field,

(iv) apply this to the solution of legal problems and the discussion of legal issues, and

(v) engage in critical analysis of the law from informed socio-political and theoretical perspectives.

Students should be able to state the law accurately, to apply legal principles to problem case scenarios, and to think critically about ways in which the law could be reformed.

The examination includes both problem type and essay type questions, designed to assess both whether students were able to understand and apply the law across the breadth of the syllabus, and whether they were able to think critically about it.

Teaching details

11 x 2 hour seminars. Optional attendance at relevant LLB lectures.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment: a 3000 word essay (33%) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. The remaining Intended Learning Outcomes will be assessed in a 3 hour written examination (67%) in which students answer 3 questions (at least one essay and at least one problem) from a choice of 8 questions.

In terms of formative assessment, there is a 1500 word essay assessment in the Autumn term.

Reading and References

Andrew Ashworth and Jeremy Horder, 2013, Principles of Criminal Law (7th edition 2009, Oxford University Press)

Jonathan Herring. 2014. Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials. 6th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blackstone’s Statutes on Criminal Law 2014-2015 ed., Peter Glazebrook. OUP

Nicola Lacey, Celia Wells and Oliver Quick. 2010. Reconstructing Criminal Law 4th edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alan Norrie. 2001. Crime, Reason and History (2nd ed) Butterworths.

Further reading will be indicated on your unit guide.