Philosophy of Criminal Law - LAW00042H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matt Matravers
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2016-17

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2016-17

Module aims

The module will explore the normative foundations of our criminal law and some issues that arise within it. Topics to be discussed include criminalization (what ought to be criminalized and why?); the justification of punishment; responsibility, excuse and justification in the criminal law (are psychopaths responsible for their acts?, should there be a defence of battered woman syndrome?, what counts as self-defence?, should poor social background or different culture be a defence?, and so on). In looking at these topics we will be discussing the ways in which citizens relate to one another and to the state.

Module learning outcomes

To develop in students an appreciation of the nature of law; to develop students analytical skills; to develop students ability to relate abstract issues in contemporary political philosophy to concrete problems in the criminal law.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Information currently unavailable

Indicative reading

  • Lucia Zedner (2004), Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press).
  • Katz, Moore and Morse (eds.) (1999), Foundations of Criminal Law (Foundation Press).

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.