LL4CE      Half Unit
Security and Criminal Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Peter Ramsay


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students ideally should have undergraduate study of criminal law (or equivalent).


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This is a course in advanced criminal law theory. The central concern of contemporary criminal justice policy is public protection. The course examines the different security interests that are protected by the different categories of criminal offence and the issues at stake in the expansion of the scope of the substantive criminal law. Examples will be drawn mainly from the criminal law of England and Wales, but also from other jurisdictions. An introduction to the structure of the criminal law in the common law world will be included. The theoretical issues are universal.

This course will cover:

  • the concept of security;
  • the concept of criminal law;
  • the presumption of innocence;
  • ‘true crimes’;
  • public welfare offences;
  • inchoate offences;
  • pre-emptive offences;
  • fear, harassment and speech offences;
  • the right to security.

Each class will consist of a student presentation on a key question, class discussion and a teacher presentation.


This course has 20 hours of teaching content in Autumn Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

A Ashworth and L Zedner Preventive Justice (OUP 2014); I Dennis and GR Sullivan (eds), Seeking Security: Pre-empting the Commission of Criminal Harms (Hart, 2012); A Brudner, Punishment and Freedom (OUP, 2009); RA Duff, Answering for Crime (Hart, 2007);  P Ramsay The Insecurity State: Vulnerable Autonomy and the Right to Security In the Criminal Law (OUP, 2012); A Ashworth (et al), Prevention and the Limits of Criminal Law (OUP, 2013).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 9

Average class size 2022/23: 9

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half 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.