If you are revising for an undergraduate criminal law exam (such as the Open University's W201 exam), remind yourself that
1 No undergraduate course in Criminal Law requires you to know about every criminal offence in existence - your course is limited to a finite number of offences.
2 For each offence within that finite set of offences - you need to be able to describe and explain the Actus Reus; Mens Rea and any defences specific to that offence (Murder is the one that has some specific defences that you should know) - and briefly apply the leading cases.
3 A useful revision exercise - which produces a tool that you can use for further revision - is to go through your manual or text book and create a spreadsheet. For each offence [and these are described in the rows across] - you should fill in cells, set out in columns
- Name of the Offence
- Relevant source (section of the relevant Act of Parliament; or 'common law offence (you might want to state a leading case which illustrates that it is a common law offence)
- Actus Reus - in numbered or bullet point list (within that cell)
- Mens Rea - in numbered or bullet point list (within that cell)
- any specific defences
- any related sections (such as definitions of elements of the AR or MR)
- a couple of key cases
4 Cases are useful - but beware of trying to memorise too many, and concentrating mainly on describing the facts. Your focus in cases must be on how that case helps us understand the point of law at stake.
This is the last Washminster post that I will be writing for exams in 2017. So I finish with this IMPORTANT message