This course examines general principles of criminal liability, a range of fatal and non-fatal offences against the person and selected offences against property. Attempts to commit offences, secondary liability and defences also form part of the University of London criminal law curriculum. Criminal law consists of a highly developed body of precisely formulated legal rules but as criminal conduct is subject to punishment it thus engages with broad issues of morality and policy. Understanding the tension between certainty in the law and social adaptation affects the development of criminal law will take students beyond the basic stage of understanding the substantive rules of criminal law.
The UK constitution is famously ‘unwritten’ and thus contrasts with other constitutional models. Analysing key issues of sovereignty and the division of powers between legislature, executive and administration, one key question is how far the UK lives up to classic doctrine. Equally, membership of the European Union, and the Human Rights Act 1998, aff ect the overall picture of the relation between citizen and the state. To fully engage with this subject, students need to take an interest in current affairs and debates about what is involved in constitutional issues and reforms.
Common law reasoning and institutions
This comprehensive introduction to the English legal system seeks to convey what is distinctive about the common law approach as a legal methodology and as it refl ects the history and politics of England and Wales. It examines the sources of law, the civil and criminal court structures, the role of judges and the jury. A running concern of the course is the question of fairness: the impact of the Human Rights Act on the criminal justice system and the issues of access to justice in the civil courts. This course is also vital in initiating students into the process of legal research and the final examination has a compulsory section on research activities carried out during the year.
[Registration with the Online Library is a requirement for successfully completing this course.]
Elements of the law of contract
Contracts are the legal basis of all commercial transactions. Covering the core topics – including formation of contracts, capacity to contract and privity, performance and breach of contract and remedies for breach of contract – the emphasis is on understanding the key underlying principles of English law. This is very much a case law subject, with judicial precedents stretching back nearly 400 years in some instances (but more usually of 19th- and 20th-century origin) and a small number of statutory provisions, as well as the impact of EU law. An understanding of what factors judges may, or must, take into account when exercising their discretion is crucial.