Sample Essay Titles
For LAW3038 Theoretical Foundations of Criminal Law, students are asked to develop their own 4,000-word research essays on a topic of their choice. To help with the selection of their essay topics and titles, we have provided a number of examples and ideas below. Students may, if they wish, submit an answer for one of the example questions laid out below, instead of writing their own title. They will still need to submit an essay proposal form, however, detailing their plans for researching and answering their chosen question. Students may also elect to write their own essay title, either by writing a variation on the theme of one of the questions presented here, or by coming up with a topic area out of whole cloth. The only limitations on subject matter are that: • The essay must examine some tension or problem in the substantive criminal law; and • The essay must apply a theoretical framework or perspective to the examination of that tension or problem. If you would like to write a research essay on a topic but you are not sure if it fits these requirements, please speak to a member of the teaching team, either after a lecture, during a seminar, via email, or in a Feedback and Consultation session. Please note that the second and third seminars offer an opportunity to get feedback on your essay plan before the proposal form is due to be submitted.
The sample questions are given below: 1. Critically evaluate the extent to which the ‘preventive turn’ in English criminal law represents an abandonment of liberal criminal theory’s commitments to the defence of individual freedom and respect for human dignity. 2. Critically consider the arguments for and against extending the defence of duress to murder and attempted murder. 3. Critically evaluate the extent to which moral luck should play into questions of criminal liability, with reference to at least two families of offences involving constructive liability.
4. Critically discuss the extent to which incest between consenting adult blood relatives should be criminalised in England and Wales. 5. Critically consider the extent to which voluntary association, in and of itself, should be enough to inculpate someone, whether as a result of an offence or by disbarring them from a defence. 6. Critically evaluate the defensibility of the definition of rape as a crime committable only with a penis. 7. Critically evaluate the extent to which objective mens rea states (such as objective recklessness, negligence, and reasonable belief) should be a component of the modern law of mens rea. 8. ‘The “Rule of Law” is not really any better than the “Rule of Men”, which is reflected in the way that criminal law consistently fails to tackle the crimes of the powerful. Allusions to the “Rule of Law” in England and Wales should be dismissed as mere propaganda.’ Critically discuss this claim with reference to at least two offences or defences. 9. Critically discuss whether or not England and Wales should recognise a defence of poverty, in general or for specific offences. 10. ‘Substantive criminal law is essentially race-neutral. Racial disparities in criminal justice in England and Wales are solely down to procedural and pre-trial decision-making, and not the law itself.’ Critically evaluate this statement with regard to at least two different offences or defences in English criminal law. 11. To what extent do we require a new law criminalising the so-called ‘rough sex defence’, where the defendant kills their victim during sexual intercourse? 12. [Please also feel free to choose your own title – these are only suggestions to guide your thinking.] In the event of a student needing to resit after failing the first assessment, they must either choose another question from the list above, or identify a new title of their own devising.