History of Criminal Law and Trials

Unit code: LCR2002 | Study level: Undergraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
City Campus
Footscray Park
Online Real Time


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.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Analyse and communicate understanding of the historical development and contemporary context of criminal law in Australia, including procedure, sentencing and punishment;
  2. Critically examine and evaluate the impact of colonial criminal law on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both historically and in a contemporary context;
  3. Critically evaluate developments in the contemporary criminal law and justice system in the context of historic and contemporary social, political and legal values.


For Melbourne campuses

Assessment type: Test
Grade: 20%
Online quiz
Assessment type: Assignment
Grade: 40%
A 1500 word research essay
Assessment type: Presentation
Grade: 40%
Group presentation and peer review

Required reading

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following course(s):

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