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Criminal Law and Procedure (11279.1)

Level: Introductory Unit Level
Credit Points: 3
HECS Bands: 3
Faculty: Faculty of Business, Government & Law
Discipline: School of Law & Justice


Unit Outlines

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  • Semester 2, 2019, ON-CAMPUS, BRUCE (184090) - View

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This unit will provide students with an understanding of the principles of the criminal law of New South Wales (NSW) and/or the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). It examines the mental and physical elements of offences, with particular reference to homicide, non-fatal offences against the person, sexual offences, drug offences, property offences and defences. The unit will also introduce students to criminal practice, including the standard of proof, the formation and role of the jury and the trial process.

Criminal law pervades our lives. Some of us are participants in the criminal justice process, as victims, perpetrators, innocent defendants, witnesses, counsellors, criminal lawyers or judges. Others are observers, digesting news reports, crime fiction or legal dramas. For all of us, criminal law matters. It defines and is defined by our moral views - our beliefs in right and wrong, and each of us has an opinion when it comes to criminality. This unit gives students the opportunity to consider their opinions through a close analysis of legislated and judicially created categories of guilt and innocence.

Many foundational and procedural questions will be explored throughout the unit, including:
- What behaviours are criminal?
- Who is and is not criminally responsible?
- How and why should offenders be punished?
- How does the criminal law protect members of society without penalising the innocent?
- Who represents the interests of society, the victim and the accused in the criminal justice process, from arrest to appeal, and how do they do it?

The unit requires students to learn to think like criminal lawyers, applying the structured analytical and ethical approach required of those seeking to prosecute or defend alleged offenders. Students will be required to analyse factual scenarios to determine whether the physical and mental elements of a crime can be proved, and whether any defences can be relied upon.

The unit will introduce students to criminal practice, including the standard of proof and the trial process - topics that will be further explored in Evidence Law. In addition, the unit will require students to consider claims of injustice and arguments for law reform.

A warning: The subject matter of the unit can be fascinating, but it can also be disturbing, particularly for those who have had personal experience as victims of crime. Should you have any concerns about taking the unit, or any aspects of the unit, please contact the lecturer.

This unit may be co-taught with a G version of the unit.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Identify, explain and critically analyse the principles and practice of criminal law in NSW and the ACT. Areas covered may include the mental and physical elements of offences, the standard of proof, the trial process, specific offences, defences and sentencing; and

2. Use legal research, problem-solving, writing and advocacy skills to apply principles of criminal law to solve legal problems.

Assessment Items

Contact Hours

One 2 hour lecture and one 2 hour problem-based learning activity on campus per week.




This unit is only available to students in a Bachelor of Laws course. Students must have passed or be enrolled in 11251 Foundations of Law and Justice.

Assumed Knowledge


Equivalent Units

7025 Criminal Law and Procedure

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