The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020
Course code



10 units


5000 level

Course handbook


Explores some themes in the criminal law related to the importance of the mental element in crime generally together with advanced analysis of mental state defences. Other topics will vary with each offering to reflect recent and significant issues in the criminal law and may include the role and impact of policing, the importance of sentencing law and practice, the federal-state framework of Australian criminal laws, and the elements and investigation of some particular criminal offences. The contemporary issues examined in the course will be set to reflect current reform and critical comment.

Availability2020 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 1 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Identify and interpret the current theoretical and practical issues relating to the concept of crime and the role of criminal law in society.

2. Examine and analyse the principles of criminal responsibility, the elements of certain criminal offences, mental state defences, defences of compulsion, the principal agencies involved in the administration of criminal justice and sentencing at an advanced level.

3. Critically examine the role of criminal law in the criminal justice system, including issues of policy, practice and procedure, which may influence the outcome of cases and formulation of legislation in this area of law.

4. Analyse and apply principles of law through the appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms in the specific context of the advanced study of criminal law.

5. Apply the skills of legal research, oral and written communication, synthesis and analysis of primary and secondary legal materials, and analysis and evaluation of competing policy considerations in a dynamic legal environment.


  1. "Crime and the mind" - thematic topic involving advanced analysis of intention, knowledge and volition in criminal responsibility, including joint criminal enterprises. Also will involve further analysis of mental state defences in the criminal law.
  2. Focus study's on selected criminal offences using cases and/or problems to look at the substantive elements of the offence, investigation, pre-trial and trial procedures by prosecution and defence, punishment and appeal issues.
  3. The principal agents in the administration of criminal justice - critical examination of the role of police in the criminal justice system, including issues arising from the Wood Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service.
  4. Federal criminal law - examination of the federal-state framework of Australian criminal laws including the development and implementation of a national criminal code.
  5. Sentencing issues in the criminal justice system - advanced analysis of the theoretical principles of sentencing and their practical application in contemporary sentencing systems.
  6. Current Issues in Criminal Justice - to reflect any important issues of current theoretical and practical significance requiring critical examination of proposed reforms not otherwise dealt with under fixed course content.


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed knowledge

LAWS1003A, LAWS1003B, LAWS2004A and LAWS2004B, LAWS3004A, LAWS3004B (or equivalents) and LAWS4004

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Mid-semester Assignment (Stream A)

Online Learning Activity: Current Issue Reflective Blog (Stream A)

In Term Test: Take-home Examination (Stream A)

Written Assignment: Research Paper (Stream B)

Presentation: Class Presentation (Optional) ( Stream B)

In Term Test: Take-home Examination (Stream B)

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term