Criminal law and the courts
This module employs a range of multi-media sources and engaging activities to immerse you in key issues and debates relevant to the Criminal Justice System of England and Wales. The module will focus on a range of criminal offences, such as murder and theft using real case studies, as well as aspects of criminal defences. You'll also be addressing themes of law reform, campaigning, inequality and human rights.
What you will study
The module begins by discussing a selection of myths in criminal law, clarifying how and whether these ring true, for example whether all criminal trials involve a jury. You'll see how cases are brought to court and why many crimes are never prosecuted at all.
You'll be introduced to:
- different sources of law and explain the role of Parliament and the courts in developing criminal offences and defences
- key criminal law concepts such as actus reus (wrongful act) and mens rea (blameworthy state of mind) through a case study of a real homicide case
- the law relating to a range of criminal offences such as murder, theft, criminal damage, and harassment.
Studying this module will also help to familiarise yourself with aspects of criminal defences with a particular focus on self-defence and duress.
The final part of the module explores youth justice, miscarriages of justice and double jeopardy. This will allow you to engage with critical review of the criminal law and help develop skills needed for onwards study.
Throughout the module you'll be encouraged to engage with themes of law reform, campaigning, inequality and human rights through a range of multi-media sources, interactive activities and module materials. You'll also be given opportunities to develop key skills such as reading for understanding, note-taking and summary writing.
If you are intending to use this module as part of the LLB, and you hope to enter the Legal Professions, you should read carefully the information on our Careers page. There are different entry regulations into the legal professions in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. You should read the information on the website as it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet these requirements.
This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for higher education and distance learning. It will give you the foundation knowledge and study skills to study law at a more advanced level (OU levels 2 and 3). By the end of the module you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.
You will be provided with the textbook Complete Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Loveless, Barton and Derry) and have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- audio and video content
- assignment details and submission section
- online tutorial access and tutor support.
You will need
You will have the option to record an oral presentation as part of your assessed work on this module. We strongly recommend that you use a headset with a microphone, as using an external or integrated microphone and speakers could result in a poor-quality recording.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.