Criminal Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bempah


This course is compulsory on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the 'general part' of criminal law and selected areas of the special part of criminal law in the context of theories of the aims and functions of criminalisation. The course will discuss the limits to criminalisation; the conceptual framework of criminal liability (conduct, responsibility, capacity, defences); homicide; sexual offences; non-fatal violence against the person; property offences (with particular reference theft, fraud, robbery and burglary); secondary participation in crime; attempts, conspiracy, encouragement; 'pre-inchoate' offences; regulatory offences.


16 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the AT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the WT.

This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Autumn Term and Winter Term.

Formative coursework

A minimum of two pieces of written work will be required (one per term), usually one essay and one problem.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be distributed at the start of the course. A number of criminal law textbooks are available, and students will be expected to read the relevant parts of the most recent editions of one of these, e.g. Nicola Lacey, Oliver Quick & Celia Wells, Reconstructing Criminal Law; Jeremy Horder, Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law; Jonathan Herring, Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials; M. Allen, Introduction to Criminal Law. They will also be expected to read all cases and materials marked as primary on the detailed reading lists provided.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 233

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Capped 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills