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Unit of study_

LAWS6350: Criminal Law: History and Theory

2024 unit information

This unit critically examines the development of the modern criminal law and process broadly since end eighteenth century. In terms of process, topics to be considered may include: the development of the adversarial trial system, the decline of capital punishment, the formalization of rules of evidence and proof the growth of the summary jurisdiction and the appearance of hybrid civil criminal procedural forms. In terms of criminal law topics may include: non-fatal offences against the person sexual offences possession and endangerment offences. The discussion of these topics is set in the context of legal scholarly discourse criminal law theory and the unit provides opportunity for reflection on the contemporary challenges of coordination and legitimation facing the criminal law. This unit adopts an explicitly critical sociohistorical approach to the study of law. Discussion of relevant legal theoretical scholarship forms a core part of the subject matter of the unit. Further information about this unit is available in the Sydney Law School timetable, unit of study outline and academic staff profile

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:


Code LAWS6350
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:
undergraduate criminal law or permission given by Unit Coordinator

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Students, through an analysis and evaluation of criminal law in the contemporary context, should acquire an understanding of the relationship between the current state of the law and contemporary social, political, doctrinal and procedural issues.
  • LO2. Students should develop a familiarity with a range of different traditions and practices of criminal law and theory and be able to engage in critical reading of works of criminal law, legal theory, criminology and related fields.
  • LO3. Students should be able to identify the theoretical and thematic interconnections between criminal law doctrines through an historical/contextual analysis.
  • LO4. Students should develop the ability to evaluate and synthesise in a contemporary context the knowledge acquired from class discussion and readings.
  • LO5. Students should appreciate the method by which the law has developed in the areas covered in the unit.
  • LO6. Students should acquire an understanding of the substantive law covered in class and in the readings.

Unit availability

This section lists the session, attendance modes and locations the unit is available in. There is a unit outline for each of the unit availabilities, which gives you information about the unit including assessment details and a schedule of weekly activities.

The outline is published 2 weeks before the first day of teaching. You can look at previous outlines for a guide to the details of a unit.

Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive November 2024
Block mode Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Outline unavailable
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive May 2021
Block mode Remote

Modes of attendance (MoA)

This refers to the Mode of attendance (MoA) for the unit as it appears when you’re selecting your units in Sydney Student. Find more information about modes of attendance on our website.