Criminal law and the courts
This module employs a range of multimedia 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 address 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 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 a critical review of criminal law and help develop skills needed for onward study.
Throughout the module, you'll be encouraged to engage with themes of law reform, campaigning, inequality and human rights through a range of multimedia sources, interactive activities and module materials. You'll also have opportunities to develop key skills such as reading for understanding, note-taking and summary writing.
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 module textbook Complete Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials 8th edition (Loveless, Allen and Derry) and have access to a module website, which includes:
- an eBook version of the module textbook
- 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’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Monterey or higher.
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.