LAWS4102 Criminal Law

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Criminal law reflects the values society protects through a punitive system of sanctions. It therefore requires an ongoing engagement with ethical, social and political perspectives. It emphasises the underlying moral questions which criminal law confronts, and the wider context within which it operates, and the way in which the legislature and the courts react to perceived social problems. The unit explores and critically assesses core concepts which underlie criminal responsibility, and relates these concepts to substantive criminal offences, defences and principles of criminal responsibility. As Western Australia has a criminal code, it considers these concepts within a statutory context, although it also examines other sources of criminal law to provide a wider insight into the construction of criminal liability. It also develops skills in legal problem solving and case analysis.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate a sound knowledge of (a) the rules of substantive criminal law with respect to the definition of core criminal offences; (b) the rules relating to the various excuses and defences; (c) the principles of criminal responsibility; (d) aspects of the criminal process with a primary emphasis on the trial and appeal processes in Western Australia; (e) principles of statutory interpretation, and the relationship of the Criminal Code to case law; (f) the hierarchy of the courts and the doctrine of precedent; (2) demonstrate an insight into, and an ability to critique (a) the ethical, social and political context in which criminal law offences, excuses and defences develop; (b) issues concerning the position of disadvantaged persons within the criminal justice system; (c) the issues surrounding past law reform and the need for future law reform; (d) the ethical issues associated with the prosecution and defence of criminal cases; (3) demonstrate the ability to (a) analyse a hypothetical factual scenario and identify and articulate the relevant factual and legal issues raised; (b) understand and analyse statutory provisions; (c) read and analyse cases, including identifying the ratio of case; (d) explain the relevance of cases from different jurisdictions in solving criminal law problems; (e) critically evaluate the scope of the criminal law and its practical impact and operation; (4) demonstrate an ability to (a) conduct legal research on a topical area of criminal law, having regard to historical and social influences; (b) use and cite relevant primary and secondary sources, including scholarship, which focuses on criminal law; and (5) (a) articulate legal arguments in a clear and concise manner; (b) participate meaningfully in group discussions on criminal law cases and issues; (c) present oral commentary and submissions clearly and relevantly.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) assignment; and (3) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Meredith Blake
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering
Contact hours
4 hours per semester
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]

Burtin, K., Crofts, T. and Tarrant, S. Principles of Criminal Law in Queensland and Western Australia: Thomson Reuters 2015

Colvin, E. and McKechnie, J. Criminal Law in Queensland and Western Australia, Cases and Commentary, 7th edn: LexisNexis 2015

Devereux, J. and Blake, M. Kenny Criminal Law in Queensland and Western Australia, 9th edn: LexisNexis 2016

Crofts T, Burtin et al The Criminal Codes Commentary and Materials, 7th edn Thomson Reuters 2018

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.