Criminal Law is a compulsory paper usually taken in the first year; those doing the degree in two years take it in their final year.
The course addresses the “substantive” criminal law, that is to say the rules which determine what conduct is criminal; other optional papers later in the degree deal with issues about criminal procedure, evidence and sentencing.
In the Criminal Law course, we cover a range of offences and general principles: relating to homicide offences, non-fatal violent offences, sexual offences, property offences, the main defences to criminal liability, and the principles which determine who is criminally liable for assisting or encouraging others to commit offences.
Academic study of the criminal law requires us to consider a wide range of questions – about legal doctrine, public policy, and even political philosophy – relevant to deciding the basis on which the criminal law should allocate responsibility for causing harm.
In Constitutional Law we study the orgainisation of the state through rules which allocate power to different institutions, and the relationship between those institutions and individual citizens through rules that control the exercise of state powers.
We explore the sources and foundations of the British constitution and examine key constitutional principles such as the rule of law and the separation of powers between different institutions (i.e. Parliament, the government and the judiciary).
We also study the composition and functions of Parliament, ideas surrounding the 'sovereignty' of Parliament, and the impact on the UK’s legal system of European Union law.
The control of state power through the protection of human rights legislation has been an increasingly important aspect of the UK constitution in recent years, and so is a fundamental part of studying Constitutional Law at Cambridge.
We also consider the controls on state power that come from judicial review of government actions, as well as the political accountability of governments for their exercise of power.