Criminal Law


Intermediate level, whole course, 72 lectures and tutorials.

Course convenor: Prof PJ Schwikkard

Course Outline:
The course covers the general principles of criminal law. Student s are introduced to these principles by a brief examination of the nature pf criminal law and punishment, the principle of legality and the operation of the Bill of Rights on the rules of criminal law. A brief overview of the general principles places each of the elements of criminal liability in context and demonstrates its role in deciding criminal liability.

Analysis of principles:

  • voluntariness of conduct (including the defence of automatism);
  • causation;
  • defences excluding unlawfulness (private defence, necessity, impossibility, obedience to orders, public authority and consent);
  • capacity (including the defences of youth, insanity, intoxication, provocation and emotional stress)
  • fault in the forms of intention and negligence.
  • common purpose, accomplice and accessory-after the-fact liability
  • attempt, incitement and conspiracy

Selected specific offences:
Essential elements of crimes such as murder, culpable homicide, assault, rape, theft, robbery, and fraud are considered.

DP requirements: Please refer to course handout.



Optional essay/moot/opinion 20%
June test 20%
Assignment/test 10%
November examination (2 hour) 50% (if essay/moot/opinion)
70% (if no essay/moot/opinion)