Criminal Litigation (DPLP) LAW5074

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 15
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

A core course within the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice designed to equip students with the professional skills necessary for practising criminal law in Scotland.


11 X 1 hour lectures: Thursdays.

10 X 2 hour tutorials: Thursdays.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements


Recommended Entry Requirements


Excluded Courses






1. Tutorial preparation, participation and performance 25%

2. Bail Submission 25%

3. Plea Negotiation Exercise 25%

4. Plea in Mitigation 25%


Not available for reassessment

1.Tutorial preparation, participation and performance 25%

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

To equip the students with a sound practical knowledge and understanding of

■ the structure, personnel and procedures of the criminal courts in Scotland;

■ the sequence of procedural events in both solemn and summary procedure;

■ the obligations and duties of an advocate/solicitor in criminal cases, both in relation to his client and to the court;

■ advocacy skills;

■ the operation of the criminal legal aid scheme both as to advice and assistance and as to representation; and

■ core professional and ethical considerations which arise in the course of criminal practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate and apply their knowledge of the structure and procedures of the courts of solemn and summary criminal jurisdiction in Scotland and the respective roles of the judiciary, the prosecution and the defence;

2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the complex ethical and professional issues which arise in the area of criminal litigation including (a) the obligations of the advocate/solicitor in criminal cases both to his client and the court; (b) the ethical principles and rules governing solicitors in the criminal courts including the Law Society of Scotland's Code of Conduct for Criminal Work and (c) how to make informed judgements on issues not addressed by current professional and/or ethical codes or practices;

3. Understand and apply their extensive knowledge of (a) the operation of the criminal legal aid scheme; (b) the differences between advice and assistance and legal aid for representation; (c) the process of obtaining legal aid and (d) the rules in relation to a change of agency; and, further, obtain from a client the information necessary for the correct completion of relevant applications for criminal legal aid; and to complete such applications;

4. Communicate, using appropriate methods, with a range of audiences of different levels of knowledge and expertise including clients, prosecutors and the judiciary at the various stages of the criminal justice process from first appearance to sentencing, including:-

4. 1. (a) making a well-founded application for bail on behalf of a client; (b) opposing, on behalf of the prosecution, an application for bail and (c) marking a competent appeal against the refusal/grant of bail;

1. conducting an intermediate diet (a) on behalf of a client and (b) on behalf of the prosecution; and

5.  making an effective plea in mitigation, both written and oral, to the court on behalf of a client.

6. Critically examine criminal charges and identify and raise correctly any preliminary pleas/issues relating to the competency or relevancy of these charges;

7. Use a range of drafting skills to prepare correctly and competently, and lodge timeously, relevant court documentation eg notices of special defences, applications to vary bail conditions;

8. Demonstrate critical awareness of the current issues surrounding sentencing options available to the different criminal courts and the alternatives to prosecution available to the prosecution eg conditional offers of fixed penalties;

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Attendance at tutorials is compulsory. Credit will be refused if a student fails to attend a tutorial without good cause.

The requirements for the award of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is 120 credits:


(a) candidates to achieve a grade D or better in all courses.


(b) candidates to achieve a grade D or better in each component part of each course.