Skip to Content


Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course looks in depth at certain of the main aspects of the Scottish criminal justice process, focussing upon its mainly adversarial nature. Some comparisons are drawn with the inquisitorial processes of continental Europe. Topics addressed include: prosecution systems; the position of the accused; the status granted to the victim; plea-bargaining; the trial process; and appeals. The emphasis is not so much on ‘black-letter law’ but on the principles and policies, often clashing, which underlie the detailed legal rules and regulations governing the relevant institutions and processes.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor Peter Duff

Qualification Prerequisites

  • One of Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Legal Studies (Ma Honours) (LX) (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims:

  • To introduce members of the class to general theories concerning the nature of the criminal process.
  • To analyse elements of the Scottish system of criminal justice against a background of comparative models of the criminal process.
  • To compare and contrast the Scottish system of criminal justice with other modern legal systems.
  • To examine the role of the major participants in the criminal process: the police, the prosecutor, the accused, the victim and witnesses.
  • To encourage a critical evaluation of Scottish criminal justice.
  • To encourage research to a standard appropriate to honours-level study.

Content: This course analyses elements of Scottish criminal justice against a background of theoretical and comparative models of the criminal process. It looks at both the trial and pre-trial proceedings. Against this background, the course examines the role of the major participants – the police, the prosecutor, the accused, the victim and the adjudicator(s) – in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of crime.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Lecture during University week7
  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 8, 10 - 11, 13 - 14, 17

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for courses may be subject to change. All updates for first-half session courses will be actioned no later than 1700 (GMT) on 18 September 2020. All updates for second half-session courses will be actioned in advance of second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour exam (66%) and 1 3000-word essay (33%). Resit: None.

Formative Assessment

For MA Legal Studies (LX) students only, a 1,000-word essay.


Feedback will be provided on the feedback form within three weeks from the date of submission.

Course Learning Outcomes


Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.