This unit examines the history and development of the criminal law and the adversarial criminal trial including the role of the jury. It considers their evolution from earlier forms of trial and the impact of permitting accused to be represented by barristers, the formalising of rules of evidence and the historical roots of a raft of procedural safeguards. The Unit deals with pre-trial investigations, the historic role of justices of the peace and the emergence of organised policing. It examines the changing role of technology both in investigation and contemporary trial practice considering the early emergence of fingerprinting and forensic analysis. Current calls for criminal justice reform of procedural or legal practice, along with analysis of miscarriages of justice will be considered through the lens of their historical emergence and claims for ongoing legitimacy.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Analyse and communicate understanding of the historical context of selected topics and issues within criminal law and procedure, including investigation, trial processes, and punishment.  
  2. Critically evaluate developments in the contemporary criminal law and justice system in the context of historic and contemporary social, political and legal values.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Test Online quiz 15%
Assignment A 1500 word research essay 35%
Examination Final Exam 50%

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As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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