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Financial Crime - LAW00039H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sarah Wilson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module embraces a variety of learning activities, including plenary-type lectures, student research activity and discussion, and non-assessed student presentations. Focus on different topics/ thematic reference points from week to week will usually be initiated by PBL-like activity which introduces key trigger material which then provides the basis for private study, to then be fed into a class discussion during the following week.

As a matter of content, this module exploring financial crime in the UK is a study of crime in the commercial sphere (Law Commission, 1999) which is believed to have annual costs for the country running into billions. This is a context where constant financial innovation challenges UK regulators and the criminal process in providing effective enforcement, and ensures the problem of financial crime is a constant presence in policy debates and discourses (e.g. Law Commission Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts, 2010). It is also the case that financial crime is commonly perceived as different from ordinary crime or not even real crime at all. This module explores the key legal and conceptual issues arising from activity which is termed financial crime by virtue of being large-scale illegality which occurs in the world of finance and financial institutions (Friedrichs, 2006). It looks at how financial crime is defined legally in domestic law and in international discourses, with particular emphasis on key terminology utilised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) clustering around financial crime financial sector crime and financial abuse. It looks at UK responses to particularly financial sector crime, focusing on the legal architecture for response, comprising institutional structures and substantive provisions, drawn from criminal enforcement and regulatory frameworks and beyond; and in so doing, also the influences on the UK architecture from European policymaking and an increasingly international context for concern about financial crime. This is integrated with academic study of financial crime drawn mainly from criminology, with particular emphasis on white-collar crime scholarship, and also regulatory perspectives, and business literature focused on economics and financial law. This comes together with legal and societal understandings of financial crime dating from the nineteenth century to analyse the proposition that the global financial crisis of 2007-8 is likely to represent a turning point for financial crime enforcement (Tomasic).

In bringing all these things together, the module will make extensive use of financial crime case studies which are drawn from the module leaders practice-interface academic work. This work includes writing for Lloyds Law Reports Financial Crime, and ongoing work with a leading QC, and also specialist solicitors and accountants.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the current UK regulatory architecture for responding to financial crime
  • An understanding of the UK architecture for responding to financial crime in the context of European and international influences and dimensions
  • A critical awareness of the central debates informing understanding of UK responses to financial crime drawn from academic commentary and policy discourses
  • An appreciation of how and why the global financial crisis 2007-8 is regarded as a turning point for financial crime enforcement both for the UK and also on European and international platforms
  • An awareness of questions raised in respect of financial crime in light of different theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, and how these might interface with questions arising from policy discourses; and
  • An appreciation of the likely challenges arising for effective management of financial crime in the twenty-first century, and particularly post-crisis.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Learning activities are inherently formative, by continuing reference made to the assessment and the role of study in constituting student interest.

Additional and thus dedicated formative activity comprises a dedicated revision class, bringing the substantive and thematic threads together, combined with opportunities for 1-1 meetings to discuss ideas and progress, and opportunities for submitting brief plans


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback is by way of an individual feedback sheet presented to each student, in the timeframe stipulated by the University 

Indicative reading

  • IMF Financial System Abuse, Financial Crime and Money Laundering
  • Background Paper (Washington DC, 2001)
  • S Will et al How They Got Away With It: White Collar Criminals and the Financial Meltdown (Columbia, 2012)
  • R Tomasic The financial crisis and the haphazard pursuit of financial crime (2011) Journal of Financial Crime, 18 (1), 7.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.