LAW 2599 - Criminal Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

Criminal Law introduces the Australian criminal justice system, principles of criminal responsibility, and the classification of criminal offences according to seriousness (summary, minor indictable and major indictable) and liability (full fault, strict liability and absolute liability). The bulk of the semester is dedicated to examining and, applying to practical situations, (i) the elements of the substantive offences of dishonesty, unlawful killing, sexual offences, indecent filming and assault and cause harm offences;(ii) the defences of self-defence and mental impairment; and (iii) extended liability through the law of attempt. The course uses a 'case file approach' to seminars to provide students with career readiness skills. The class time of the course is designed to encourage student interaction with each other and with staff, to maximise learning opportunities and build a supportive and inclusive culture that will foster networks that will sustain students throughout their degree and career.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2599
    Course Criminal Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Corequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 1004; LAW 2503
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws students only
    Course Description Criminal Law introduces the Australian criminal justice system, principles of criminal responsibility, and the classification of criminal offences according to seriousness (summary, minor indictable and major indictable) and liability (full fault, strict liability and absolute liability). The bulk of the semester is dedicated to examining and, applying to practical situations, (i) the elements of the substantive offences of dishonesty, unlawful killing, sexual offences, indecent filming and assault and cause harm offences;(ii) the defences of self-defence and mental impairment; and (iii) extended liability through the law of attempt. The course uses a 'case file approach' to seminars to provide students with career readiness skills. The class time of the course is designed to encourage student interaction with each other and with staff, to maximise learning opportunities and build a supportive and inclusive culture that will foster networks that will sustain students throughout their degree and career.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Ms Kellie Toole

    Course Timetable

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

    There will be a two hour lecture and a one hour seminar each week. The details are available on the class planner at There will not be seminars in weeks 1 and 9, because there will an advocacy workshop and assessed assessment task scheduled later in the semester.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Analyse the principles of criminal responsibility, undertake self-directed legal research using primary and secondary materials, and analyse and evaluate legal information relating to criminal law and legal theory.
    2. Apply principles of criminal law to complex legal problems, and critique the operation of criminal law from both a policy and theoretical/principled perspective.
    3. Prepare persuasive written and oral arguments for a legal and lay audience on issues relating to the drafting of new criminal laws and the application of existing criminal laws to common scenarios that arise in criminal practice.
    4. Demonstrate awareness of principles of ethical professional judgement in the management and conduct of a criminal law matter, relevant to both prosecution and defence.
    5. Analyse the impact of criminal law from a policy perspective, with a focus on the impact of the law on those people who are vulnerable or outside mainstream culture.
    6. Reflect on individual capacity to complete self-directed tasks and to work effectively in teams. Extend their skills by utilising feedback and reflection to drive personal improvement.

    The 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:

    1. The definition of crime.
    2. Elements of crime.
    3. Aims of the criminal law.
    4. Homicide and defences.
    5. Non-fatal offences against the person and defences.
    6. Offences against property.
    7. General doctrines.
    8. Attempts, strict responsibility.
    9. Elements of criminal procedure - classification of offences.
    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 2, 3, 5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    5, 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Students will require a copy of:

    David Caruso et al, South Australian Criminal Law and Procedure (Lexis Nexis, 2nd ed, 2016)

    Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935

    Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) Part 5A—Filming and sexting offences
    Recommended Resources
    The following text will assist students who seek an alternative view or an extended knowledge of the material covered in the course:
    • Simon Bronitt and Bernadette McSherry, Principles of Criminal Law (Thomsons, 4rd ed, 2017)
    The following article will assist students to understand the benefits of situational learning through case files:
    • Anne Hewitt and Kellie Toole ‘The Practical Knowledge Conundrum: What Practical Knowledge Should Be Included in a Law School Curriculum and How Can it Be Taught? (2013) 25(5) New Zealand Universities Law Review 980
    The following websites provide useful information on the South Australian criminal law for the general population and the legal profession:

    Legal Services Commission, Law Handbook Online,
    Foolkit: A Lawyer's Toolkit,
    Court's Administation Authority,
    Online Learning
    Online Communication

    The MyUni Discussion Board will be activated by the start of teaching and will be available until immediately before the primary exam. All questions relating to substantive course content and assessment should be posted on the Discussion Board, rather than emailed to staff. Guidelines on communication, including the use of the Discussion Board, will be posted on MyUni.

    Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with announcements during the semester.

    Online Learning 

    All lectures will be recorded and available on MyUni shortly after the lecture has been delivered. Powerpoint lecture slides will be posted on MyUni before or after the lecture, as appropriate.

    Additional recordings may be placed on MyUni thoughout the semester if issues arise that cannot be covered in the scheduled lecture or seminar times, or topics need consolidating.

    The problem-based assignment must be submitted online through the Turnitin text-matching software program designed to assist with the detection of plagiarism and other forms of cheating. The problem-based assignment will be marked online and feedback will be available through MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    In general, the first hour of the lecture will be spent in a relatively traditional lecture format explaining the key concepts for the weekly topic. It will involve questioning of students and invite ongoing input from the class.

    The form of the second hour of the lecture will depend on the topic and the lecturer. It may be a traditional lecture format or a workshop that involves a combination of elements such as lecture, class exercises, process mapping/flowcharts covering the type of scenarios you will encounter in seminars and summative assessment, and visits from members of the profession. It will serve as a bridge between the content presented in the first hour of the lecture and the application of the content to practical exercises in the seminars.

    Seminars will run from week 2 to week 13. They will involve application of the law to practical legal problems. They will revolve around two separate scenarios that will be presented as case files that will run across the whole semester and progressively raise issues in the way that they would unfold in a real-world criminal case.

    Neither lectures nor seminars (except in week 9 - see below) are compulsory and lectures will usually be recorded. Students are encouraged to attend as much contact time as possible to maximise their own learning and to support the learning of other students. If you chose not to attend classes, you may miss some content.

    There will be an assessed, group advocacy exercise in the seminar in week 9. The week 8 lecture will be dedicated to preparing for the advocacy exercise. It will involve a legal argument based issues raised in one of case files. Not every member of the group needs to present oral argument.

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

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    In taking this course students are expected to attend 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars. To get the most from this course and be able to produce written work and oral contributions of a high quality, it is essential that students spend 6-7 hours per week doing the readings, taking notes, thinking about the issues, and preparing questions, answers and discussion points for seminars.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The Criminal Justice System - Intro and general administration; classification of offences; role of police, prosecutors, judges and victims; federal/state jurisdiction; common law/criminal code; the court system; sources of law, lawyers and legal responsibilities and ethical issues; crime statistics
    Criminal Law and Responsibility - Difference between civil and criminal law; principles of criminal responsibility; aims of the criminal law; social context of crime
    SEMESTER *The following program is subject to change*
    Week Topic Lecture A Lecture B/Workshop Seminar
    1 Elements of Offences  Welcome and elements of offences Full fault, strict liability and absolute liability offences No seminar
    2 He Kaw Teh Analysis Processes and Principles He Kaw Teh analysis Element analysis – case file
    3 Homicide Murder Manslaughter He Kaw Teh analysis – case file
    4 Offences against the person Assault, Cause harm/Cause serious harm Inherent statutory defences and statutory alternative verdicts Murder and Manslaughter – case file analysis
    5 Sex Offences (1) Rape Indecent assault, unlawful sexual intercourse Assault, cause serious harm and cause harm – case file analysis
    6 Sex Offences (2) Filming and sexting offences Filming and sexting offences
    Preparation for File note/client letter
    Rape - case file analysis
    7 Dishonesty offences Theft Robbery Filming and sexting offences - case file analysis
    8 Advocacy Advocacy Advocacy
    Preparation for advocacy exercise
    Theft and robbery – case file
    9 Attempts Common law of attempts Statutory law of attempts Assessed advocacy exercise - in seminar
    10 Defences (1) – affirmative Affirmative defences Self defence Attempts – case file analysis
    11 Defences (2) – mental state Common law on mental Impairment Statutory law on mental Impairment Self defence – case file analysis
    12 Revision and exam preparation Revision Revision Mental impairment – case file analysis
    13 Revision and exam preparation No lecture No lecture Revision
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no additional requirements for completion of this course other than described elsewhere in this document.

    None of the assessment tasks are threshold tests i.e. students are able to pass the course overall even if they fail one or more assessment tasks as long as their overall grade is 50% or greater.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    There is no small group discovery experience as part of this course.
  • 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 Task Task Type Due Weighting Redeemable Length Learning Outcome
    File note/letter of advice Individual 17 April at 2pm 30% Yes 2,000 words - compulsory 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Advocacy Exercise Individual 11 May at 2pm (or week 9 seminar for live Zoom version) 10% No 3 minute oral or
    2 page written
    1, 2, 3, 4, 6
    Take Home Exam Individual In semester 1 examination period - online 60 or 90% No 2.5 hours open book - compulsory 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Assessment Detail
    File note/letter of advice 30% or 0%, Compulsory, Redeemable

    Each student will be required to answer a problem-based question in the form of a file note for a senior lawyer on a particular legal issue, and to write a letter to a client on the same matter. The legal issue will arise from one of the case files used in the seminars. It will be redeemable by performance in the final exam provided that it represents a bona fide effort as determined by the course coordinator. 

    A pass in the problem question is not a prerequisite for passing Criminal Law. 

    Group Advocacy exercise 10%, Compulsory, NOT Redeemable

    Each student will be required to participate in an assessed, group advocacy exercise.

    Please refer to the instructions on MyUni under the Module "Covid-19 Modified Teaching Arrangements."  The exercise will be conducted face to face online.

    It will involve a legal argument based on one of the case files used in seminars. Not every member of the group needs to present oral argument. Every member of each group is expected to attend, but may be excused if they are unavailable and if they participate in the preparation of their group's presentation.

    A pass in the group advocacy exercise is not a prerequisite for passing Criminal Law. 

    Take Home Examination [60% or 90%]

    Each student will be required to complete a two and a half hour, open book examination. All of the offences, defences, principles and issues covered in the course are examinable.

    A pass in the exam is not a prerequisite for passing Criminal Law. 
    Students will be provided with submission instructions as part of the assessment instructions for each item of assessment which will be made available on MyUni.

    Late Submission of Assignments: 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.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • 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 feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • 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.

    The centre offers 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.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

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

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia 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.