Module details for Criminal Law


This module examines the Scots Law principles of criminal responsibility as well as the elements which must be proved in relation to the commission of particular crimes.


The aim of this module is to enable students to understand, explain and distinguish between common law and statutory offences in the Scottish jurisdiction.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand the general principles underpinning Scots criminal law including human rights issues

2.  Identify and explain the elements of common law and statutory crimes/offences: against the person, of dishonesty, against property, public order and morality, the state & administration of justice. Defences.

3.  Distinguish between strict liability offences and crimes where mens rea must be shown

4.  Identify, state and apply legal principles and demonstrate skills of oral and written communication and legal reasoning

Indicative Content

1 General Principles and Procedures

Sources of criminal law; mens rea and actus reus; causation; strict liability; selected statutory offences; corporate criminal liability; art and part liability; inchoate crimes; common law and statutory defences; summary and solemn procedure; appeals; Scottish Law Commission current proposals for law reform (e.g. Homicide).

2 Crimes against the Person: Recognised defences

Assault; aggravations to an assault charge; causing reckless injury etc; extortion; homicide; selected sexual offences per the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

3 Crimes of Dishonesty: Recognised defences

Theft and aggravated theft; embezzlement; robbery; reset; fraud; uttering as genuine.

4 Crimes relating to Public Order and Morality: Recognised defences

Breach of the peace; Public Indecency; Perjury and other selected offences against the course of justice.

5 Crimes against Property: Recognised defences

Malicious mischief; vandalism; fire-raising.

6 Specific Statutory Offences: Statute-specific defences

e.g. Road traffic offences; Misuse of drugs; Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 26
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Practical Activity 6
Assessment 40
Independent 116
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.