Course Title: Criminal law

Part A: Course Overview

Program: C6106

Course Title: Criminal law

Portfolio: BUS

Nominal Hours: 51.0

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


650T Vocational Business Education

Distance / Correspondence or Face-to-Face or Internet or Workplace

Term1 2011,
Term1 2012,
Term1 2013,
Term2 2013,
Term2 2014,
Term1 2015,
Term2 2015

Course Contact: Doug Cole

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 5424

Course Contact Email:

Course Description

The purpose of this module is to provide detailed examination and analysis skills of criminal law as might be relevant to a person working in a legal office, for a legal aid provider or government department or in a criminal justice context and incorporates a study of criminal procedure, substantive aspects of criminal offences as defined in legislation and at common law and evaluation of law reform issues.

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Pre-requisites:  VU20111 Legal Process

National Competency Codes and Titles

National Element Code & Title:

VU20118 Criminal law

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

Learning Outcome 1 - Analyse, assess and define the concept of crime and analyse the purposes of criminal law in society.
Assessment criteria
1.1 Define the concept of crime.
1.2 Compare and contrast the sources of criminal law, using relevant case material.
1.3 Analyse and define the concepts of ‘mens rea’ and ‘actus reus’.
1.4 Assess and outline the particular purposes of criminal law, with specific reference to retribution, deterrence, reformation and rehabilitation and certainty.

Learning Outcome 2 - Outline the pre-trial and trial procedures in a criminal matter and discuss the possible penalties for a criminal offence.
Assessment criteria
2.1 Analyse and illustrate diagrammatically the preliminary and trial procedures in Victoria with particular reference to:
• summary offences, indictable offences and indictable offences triable summarily
• the Victorian court hierarchy in the criminal justice system
• the mention system
• the committal process
• arraignment
• the procedure in relation to a jury trial
• the procedure in the Magistrates’ Court following a not guilty plea
2.2 Define the concept of ‘bail’, the process of a bail application, and the conditions under which bail may be granted according to the Bail Act 1977 (Vic).
2.3 Analyse, and illustrate diagrammatically, the sentencing procedures followed in the Victorian criminal justice system, using relevant cases examples and with reference to:
• the sentencing hearing
• dismissals
• discharges
• adjournments
• intellectually disabled offenders
• victim impact statements
2.4 Evaluate the various penalties available for particular criminal offences.
2.5 Examine reforms to evidence and criminal procedure in Victoria with reference to:
• Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)
• Evidence Act 2008 (Vic)
2.6 Analyse Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) with reference to criminal law issues.

Learning Outcome 3 - Analyse the key elements of the criminal offences of murder and manslaughter, and assess the available defences to such prosecutions.
Assessment criteria
3.1 Define and analyse the concept of ‘homicide’, making reference to:
• who may be the victim of homicide
• infanticide
• child destruction
• murder, manslaughter and culpable driving
• concealment of birth
• the meaning of ‘death’
3.2 Distinguish homicides which are defined in legislation from those defined at common law.
3.3 Analyse and define the specific elements of the criminal offence of murder.
3.4 Apply the analysis in 3.3 to a given case study and determine whether the offence of murder is substantiated.
3.5 Assess the elements that constitute the offence of manslaughter.
3.6 Apply the analysis in 3.5 to a given case study and determine whether the offence of manslaughter is substantiated.
3.7 Assess current issues in the context of homicide, including the controversy in relation to euthanasia.
3.8 Access changes to abortion laws in Victoria with reference to Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Vic)

Learning Outcome 4 - Determine and assess the elements of offences against the person other than homicide.
Assessment criteria
4.1 Demonstrate the key elements of criminal assault and other offences involving violence.
4.2 Apply the elements in 4.1 to a given case study and determine whether an ‘assault’ has been substantiated.
4.3 Assess current issues in offences against the person including domestic violence, assistance for victims of crime and stalking
4.4 Determine the key elements that comprise sexual offences.
4.5 Apply the elements in 4.4 to a given case study and determine whether a ‘sexual offence’ has been substantiated.
4.6 Examine current issues in the context of sexual offences including inter alia sentencing practice for rape offences, jury direction in rape cases and refer to the sexual history of the complainant.

Learning Outcome 5 - Evaluate and assess the available defences to particular offences.
Assessment criteria
5.1 Define the concept of ‘defensive homicide’ on a charge of murder and determine the circumstances under which defensive homicide is available as a defence.
5.2 Define the concept of ‘self-defence’ and determine the circumstances under which self defence may be applied.
5.3 Assess the defences of duress, marital coercion, sudden or extraordinary emergency, superior orders and necessity with reference to availability, elements, particular issues in relation to the offence of murder, relevant cases and Crimes (Homicide) Act 2005.
5.4 Analyse the circumstances in which impaired or altered mental states may negate criminal responsibility.
5.5 Determine the application of selected defences to case studies.

Learning Outcome 6 - Analyse the law relating to the types of participation in crime and attempts.
Assessment criteria
6.1 Analyse the culpability of the participants in a given crime, using relevant culpability case examples.
6.2 Analyse and assess the concept of ‘attempt’ in criminal law, with reference to actus reus, voluntary desistance, mens rea, legal and factual impossibility and the statutory provisions.

Learning Outcome 7 - Analyse and evaluate the various elements to the criminal offence of theft, and discuss the available statutory defences.
Assessment criteria
7.1 Examine the historical background to the law of theft including larceny at common law and the reasons behind the introduction of the theft provisions of the Crimes Act.
7.2 Analyse and define ‘property’ as stipulated by the Crimes Act.
7.3 Assess and evaluate the concept of ‘belonging to another’ as stipulated by the Crimes Act
7.4 Analyse and evaluate the concept of ‘appropriates’ as defined by the Crimes Act, using relevant case examples.
7.5 Analyse and assess the concept of ‘intention of permanently depriving’ as defined by the Crimes Act, using specific case examples and including the presumption in relation to motor vehicles and aircraft.
7.6 Analyse the concept of appropriation of property ‘dishonestly’ as defined by the Crimes Act, using specific case examples with reference to claim of right, consent, unknown owner and willingness to pay.
7.7 Analyse the applications of theft provisions to case study materials

Learning Outcome 8 - Determine the elements of the crimes of obtaining property by deception, obtaining a financial advantage by deception robbery, burglary and blackmail as defined by the Crimes Act
Assessment criteria
8.1 Define the following criminal offences, S 81 obtaining property by deception and S 82 obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
8.2 Analyse the criminal offences of robbery, burglary and blackmail, with reference to S 75, 75 A robbery and armed robbery, S 76, 77 burglary and aggravated burglary and S 87 blackmail.
8.3 Analyse applications of sections of the Crimes Act given in 8.1 and 8.2 to case study material.

Learning Outcome 9 - Analyse and assess the key elements required for strict and absolute liability offences.
9.1 Distinguish between "mens rea offences, strict liability offences and offences of absolute liability and examine criteria for making the distinction
9.2 Examine the rationale for offences of strict or absolute liability and provide relevant examples of statutory provisions creating strict or absolute liability offences.
9.3 Examine the operation of the defence of mistake in relation to strict liability offences including the distinction between a mistake of fact and a mistake of law the onus of proof in relation to mistake.
9.4 Analyse strict and absolute liability offences with reference to case study material..

Overview of Assessment

Assessment methods have been designed to measure achievement of the requirements in a flexible manner over a range of assessment tasks, for example:

• Test/written examination
• case study analysis
• short answers questions
• written assignment
• oral presentations
• project (s)

Students are advised that they are likely to be asked to personally demonstrate their assessment work to their teacher to ensure that the relevant competency standards are being met.