Criminal Law (LAWS5004)


This unit of study is designed to introduce the general principles of criminal law in NSW, and to critically analyse these in their contemporary social and political context. In order to achieve these goals, the unit will consider a range of theoretical literature as well as critical commentary, and will focus on particular substantive legal topics in problem-centred contexts. Although the topic structure is necessarily selective, it is intended that students will gain a broad understanding of crime and justice issues, as well as of the applications of the criminal law. Students will encounter problem-based learning and will be encouraged to challenge a range of conventional wisdom concerning the operation of criminal justice. This unit of study is designed to assist students in developing: (1) A critical appreciation of certain key concepts which recur throughout the substantive criminal law. (2) A knowledge of the legal rules in certain specified areas of criminal law and their application. (3) A preliminary knowledge of how the criminal law operates in its broader societal context. (4) An understanding of how criminal liability is determined. The course has a critical focus and will draw on procedural, substantive, theoretical and empirical sources. The contradictions presented by the application of legal principle to complex social problems will be investigated.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Daytime stream: 2x2hr seminars/wk for 10 weeks. Evening stream: 1x3hr seminar/wk for 13 weeks.


Class participation (10%) and 1 x assignment (40%) and 1 x 2hr final open-book exam (50%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


(LAWS5000 or LAWS1006) and (LAWS5003 or LAWS1014)


LAWS1003 or LAWS1016 or LAWS2001 or LAWS2009

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.