LAW 2503 - Criminal Law and Procedure

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

The Criminal Law part of the course (Weeks 1-9) opens with an examination of the nature and purposes of the criminal law and the general principles of criminal responsibility at common law. It then examines the basic elements of criminal offences and the distinction between offences of full fault, strict and absolute liability. The topics that follow include a selection of substantive offences: the offences of dishonesty, unlawful homicides, and sexual and non-sexual non-fatal offences against the person. There follows an examination of the extended forms of liability: attempt and complicity. The course then proceeds to cover the major criminal defences of self defence, necessity and duress as well as denials of criminal responsibility on the ground of incapacity resulting from mental illness or impairment and intoxication. Criminal Procedure (the final three weeks of the course) has particular reference to constraints on police during investigation, prosecutorial practice and the requirements of a fair trial.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2503
    Course Criminal Law and Procedure
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 1004
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 1503
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The Criminal Law part of the course (Weeks 1-9) opens with an examination of the nature and purposes of the criminal law and the general principles of criminal responsibility at common law. It then examines the basic elements of criminal offences and the distinction between offences of full fault, strict and absolute liability. The topics that follow include a selection of substantive offences: the offences of dishonesty, unlawful homicides, and sexual and non-sexual non-fatal offences against the person. There follows an examination of the extended forms of liability: attempt and complicity.
    The course then proceeds to cover the major criminal defences of self defence, necessity and duress as well as denials of criminal responsibility on the ground of incapacity resulting from mental illness or impairment and intoxication. Criminal Procedure (the final three weeks of the course) has particular reference to constraints on police during investigation, prosecutorial practice and the requirements of a fair trial.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Ngaire Naffine

    Prof Ngaire Naffine Email: Phone 83135816
    Mr David Caruso Email: Phone 83135501
    Ms Kellie Toole Email: Phone 83134440
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Criminal Law & Procedure 2015: Draft Lecture Schedule 

    General Principles

    Week 1: Criminal Law and Responsibility: Principles and Method

    Week 2: The Elements of Offences and their analysis 

    Offences and Defences

    Week 3: Offences of Dishonesty

    Week 4: Unlawful Killing

    Week 5: Non Sexual offences against the person

    Week 6: Sexual offences against the person

    Week 7: Extending Responsibility: Attempts & Complicity

    Week 8: Defences of Circumstance: Self Defence, Duress and Necessity

    Week 9: Mental State Defences: Intoxication and Mental Impairment

    Criminal Procedure

    Week 10: Policing and Exclusion of Evidence

    Week 11: Prosecution and Fair Trial

    Week 12: Procedure in Practice; Q and A 



  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Legal Practitioners' Education and Admissions Council (LPEAC) sets rules for the academic requirements for admission to legal practice in South Australia. Students must demonstrate a satisfactory level of understanding and application of 11 core areas of legal knowledge. This course teaches the following topics within these core areas:

    Criminal Law
    · The definition of crime and the general principles of criminal law (Priestley 1)
    · The major theories of criminal responsibility
    · The aims of the criminal law (Priestley 3)
    · General Doctrines (Priestley 7)
    · The basic elements of an offence and their analysis (Priestley 2)
    · The basis of fault, strict and absolute liability (Priestley 8)
    · The substantive law of selected major offences including homicide and defences (Priestley 4); Non Fatal offences against the person and defences (Priestley 5); Offences against Property (Priestley 6)
    · The extension of liability through the law of attempts and complicity (Priestley 8)
    · The general defences (Priestley 8)

    Criminal Procedure
    Police Investigation, Apprehension, Interrogation and Seizure (Priestley 9)
    · Bringing Accused Persons to Court – Prosecution & Defence (Priestley 9)
    · The Reception of Evidence and the Idea of the Fair Trial (Priestley 9)

    A student who has successfully completed this course will have: 
    1. Knowledge of general philosophy of criminal law and criminal responsibility
    2. Knowledge of the basic principles of the substantive law in Australia
    3. Knowledge of the structure of offences and defences
    4. Knowledge of the principles of statutory interpretation that apply to legislation that creates criminal offences
    5. Knowledge of the principles of procedural law in Australia
    6. Skill in the techniques of analysis that determine the application of existing criminal (substantive and procedural) law
    7. Competence in problem-based practice in the application of criminal law
    8. The capacity to identify factual and legal issues
    9. Problem solving and solution generation skills
    10. An ability to evaluate critically the role of the criminal process in Australian society
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 3,4,6,8
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2,6,7,10
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 9,10
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 6,7
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 2
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1,10
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1,10
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1,10
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    David Caruso et al South Australian Criminal Law: Review and Critique (Lexis Nexus, 2014)

    A copy of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA)
    Recommended Resources

    Other Recommended Reading – Australian Texts

    • Bronitt and McSherry Principles of Criminal Law third edition (Thomson, 2010).
    • Waller and Williams, Criminal Law: Text and Cases by Anthony, T; Crofts, P; Crofts, T; Gray, S; Loughnan, A; Naylor, B (Butterworths 2013 12th edition).
    • David Brown, David Farrier, Sandra Egger, et al, Criminal Laws (2011 4th ed Federation Press).
    • Bernadette McSherry, Australian Criminal Laws: Critical Perspectives (with Dr B Naylor) Sydney: Oxford, 2004. Recent, clearly written and, as its title indicates, critical in orientation.
    • Laws of Australia: [Criminal Law Volumes] (Law Book Company, loose leaf service).
    Other Recommended Reading – United Kingdom Texts
    • A Ashworth and J Horder, Principles of Criminal Law (7th ed 2013 OUP)
    • Lacey, Wells and Quick, Reconstructing Criminal Law (4th ed 2010)
    Online Learning
    Selected course material will be made available on MyUni. This will include lecture guides, seminar topics, assessment information and instructions. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and with course announcements.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be presented in approximately 36 hours of lectures (12 x 2 hours and 12 x 1 hours), 24 seminar hours (12 x 2 hours) and at least 1 weekly hour of self-directed structured learning which will take the form of the Structured Course in Basic Ideas (SCBI).

    Pedagogical Approach of the SCBI: The Course in Basic Ideas will entail independent, guided, structured learning. The Course will also be linked into the main course by means of  ongoing student Presentations at weekly seminars.

    Lectures and Seminars commence in Week 1 and are presented weekly thereafter through weeks 1-12, terminating in Week 12.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students in the course are expected to attend all lectures and their weekly seminars as well as dedicate at least one hour per week to the Structured Course in Basic Ideas. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. Preparation for seminars is essential. It is equally essential to ensure that you bring relevant legislation or other required discussion material to seminars and when required to lectures.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Activity 1: Attendance at the 2 weekly lectures.
    Activity 2: Attendance and participation in a two-hour weekly seminar, which will include a Presentation.
    Activity 3: At least an hour per week engaged in the Structured Course in Basic Ideas (SCBI).

    Aims of the SCBI: The main aim of the Structured Course in Basic Ideas is to produce in each student a critical understanding of 12 basic ideas of criminal law by means of a directed and structured reading stream designed to develop independent learning. The aim is also to develop in students critical skills in scholarly analysis as well as a comprehension of the basic ideas running through Criminal Law and Procedure. This is in addition to the understanding of the substantive and procedural law examined in the rest of the main course.

    Directions and Tasks for the SCBI: There will be up to 12 structured readings and a structured check list. (There may also be provision for students to locate and apply the check list to a self-selected reading.) There will be written directions about how they are to be read and a set of questions (the check list) requiring independent response. In essence students must independently identify, describe and criticise a basic idea in Criminal Law and Procedure, on a weekly basis. The 12 Basic Ideas will correspond to the staged development of the rest of the Course. (For example the structured reading on the Dishonesty Offences is likely to examine a scholarly work on the idea of dishonesty and its significance for these offences. Or for another example, the structured reading on Offences Against the Person is likely to examine the idea of consent to harm.) Oral Directions on the Structured Course in Ideas will also be given in the First Seminar and here there will be an opportunity to ask questions, to receive preliminary guidance and for any related discussion. Thenceforth, students will be expected to be self-directed and to proceed independently.

    Expectations of the SCBI Students will be expected to dedicate at least one hour (but ideally at least 2 hours) to each of the 12 structured readings and to preparing answers to the guided questions which they can refer to in seminar classes. Students are expected to give one Seminar Presentation, in which they will be expected to introduce and explain the relevant Idea from the SCBI and briefly explain its relevance to the problems for that week. They may also choose to quiz students on the nature of this connection.
     Students will be expected to have a grasp of all 12 ideas and to have developed their own appreciation of their significance and also their relationship to one another.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Item % of final mark Dates Length Redeemable Learning Objectives
    Presentation at seminars 10% No 1-10
    Assignment 20% Due: 21st April 1500 words Yes 1, 2, 6, 10
    Exam 70% Exam Period 3 hours plus reading time - 1-5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Presentation mark – non redemption: A presentation mark is not redeemable.
    Assessment Detail
    Presentation [10%]

    Each student will be expected to give one presentation in seminars. This will typically be done in groups of 2 or 3 and will take 10 minutes at the beginning of the seminar. (Strict time will be kept.) At their presentation, presenting students will be expected to introduce and explain briefly the relevant Idea from the Structured Course in Basic Ideas and, ideally, link it to the problems set for that week. Unless there are exceptional reasons, students who present together will be assigned the same mark. Exceptional reasons may include a failure to be present at the SCBI presentations of others.

    The method of teaching will be interactive, with students expected to participate. Seminar classes will be taught as seminars, not lectures. It is expected that the relevant reading materials will be read (thoroughly) prior to each seminar. Relevant legislation must be brought to the seminars. There is little point in attending if this not done.

    Assignment [20%]

    The assignment is optional and redeemable and counts for 20% of the marks in the subject. It can be redeemed by the exam if the assignment achieves a pass grade.

    The assignment will be made available, via MyUni, in Week 4 or 5. Past practice, which is likely to be followed this year, has been to set a topic that requires research and critical analysis of:

    • an issue in criminal law theory; or

    • recent or proposed criminal law legislation.

    The subject matter of the assignment will be drawn from the topics that will be examined in the final examination in Criminal Law and Procedure. The assignment will offer, however, an opportunity for a more reflective, research based consideration of the topic set for consideration. A pass in the assignment is not a prerequisite for satisfaction of the Priestley requirements for demonstrated knowledge of Criminal Law and Procedure.

    References: All assignments must be correctly referenced, using the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (University of Melbourne Press), available through the Law Library website or in hard-copy in the Law Library or at any major bookstore. References are to be placed in footnotes, not endnotes. Also, all assignments must include a bibliography, listing all sources cited (and only those).

    Word limit:

    The word limit for the assignment is 1500 words.

    Word count does not include footnotes and appendices.

    Footnotes should not be used, however, as a vehicle for analysis/discussion/argument that exceeds the word limit.

    Assessment criteria:

    A more extended account of assessment criteria will accompany the assignment when it is posted on MYUNI.

    Examination [70%]

    This year there will be a three hour, open book examination.

    It is each student's responsibility to read the examination timetable. Misreading the timetable is not accepted as grounds for granting a supplementary exam. University staff are not permitted to provide examination times to students over the telephone or in response to personal enquiries.

    The exam will be an open-book examination, excluding material borrowed from the Barr-Smith or Law libraries. It is likely that it will consist of three  questions, all of which must be answered, as follows:

    2 Problem-type questions which will combine the substantive and procedural law 

    1 Essay-style question -  one question must be answered from this section of the paper. However a choice of topics will be offered.

    The requirements of the paper ensure that a pass in the examination will demonstrate that the candidate has attained an acceptable level of knowledge of the elements of criminal law and procedure required for admission to practice. The rules governing admission to practice are promulgated in Legal Practitioners Education and Admission to Practice 2004:  The requirements for each of the ‘Priestley 11’, required courses, are set out in Appendix A (pp24-31).

    Assessment criteria:

    Papers will be graded according to the level to which they demonstrate capacity for:

    • Comprehension of common law doctrine, legal theory and techniques of statutory interpretation in the criminal law;

    • Application of common law doctrine and techniques of analysis and statutory interpretation to problems set for discussion;

    • Comprehension and application of principles of criminal procedure to the prosecution and trial of a selection of substantive offences;

    • Clarity in presentation and expression of criminal law concepts and capacity to present a conclusion supported by reasons;

    • Critical analysis of existing law and proposals for reform of the law
    Submission of Assignments

    • Submissions are due no later than 2:00pm on the due date. All assignments must be submitted electronically via Turnitin. This means that all papers will be electronically checked for plagiarism. 

    • Students must retain a copy of any assignment submitted.

    • Students must not submit an assignment that consists entirely or in part of material that has been previously submitted for this course or another course without the approval of the Course Coordinator.

    • Late submissions will not be accepted save in exceptional circumstances. Extensions are available on medical and compassionate grounds in accordance with existing Law School policies.

    • A marking penalty of 10% (of the assigned mark) per day may be imposed for unapproved late submissions.

    • All individual assignments must be attached to an Assignment Cover Sheet which must be signed and dated by the student before submission.

    • Markers may refuse to assess assignments which do not have a signed
    acknowledgement of the University’s policy on plagiarism (refer to policy on plagiarism below).

    Return of Assignments:
    Assignments will be returned within 3-4 weeks of the due date for submission of the assignment

    Late Submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support

    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    Practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at

  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide 2014, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.

  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.