SQE Criminal Law Syllabus: Examining Key Concepts and Cases

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SQE Criminal Law Syllabus: Examining Key Concepts and Cases

Aspiring solicitors preparing for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) must have a comprehensive understanding of criminal law. Criminal law is a fundamental subject that tests a candidate’s knowledge, analytical skills, and ability to apply legal principles to various scenarios. In this article, we will delve into the key concepts and cases that candidates should focus on to succeed in the criminal law portion of the SQE exam.

Before we dive into the specifics, it’s essential to mention that preparing for the SQE exam requires a structured approach. To brush up on your knowledge and maximize your chances of success, it is highly recommended to explore SQE 1 and SQE 2 preparation courses provided by Expert Delaware LLC. These courses offer comprehensive material, expert guidance, and practice questions to help you navigate the criminal law syllabus effectively.

Key Concepts in Criminal Law

Understanding the basic concepts is crucial to succeeding in the SQE criminal law exam. Here are some key areas that candidates should focus on:

  1. Mens Rea and Actus Reus: In criminal law, the principle of “guilty mind” (mens rea) and the wrongful act (actus reus) are essential elements to establish criminal liability. Make sure to grasp the different levels of mens rea, including intention, recklessness, and negligence, and how they relate to specific criminal offenses.
  2. Strict Liability: Some offenses in criminal law do not require a mens rea element. These are known as strict liability offenses. Understand the rationale behind strict liability and the impact it has on criminal liability.
  3. Defenses: Familiarize yourself with the various defenses available in criminal law, such as self-defense, necessity, duress, intoxication, and insanity. Understand the elements required for each defense and the legal tests that apply.
  4. Homicide: Homicide is a complex area of criminal law that covers different types of unlawful killings, such as murder and manslaughter. Learn the elements and legal tests for each type of homicide and examine relevant case law to understand their application.
  5. Property Offenses: Property offenses encompass a range of crimes, including theft, robbery, burglary, and fraud. Study the definition, elements, and key cases related to each offense to demonstrate a thorough understanding.
  6. Assault and Battery: Assault and battery are common offenses in criminal law. Understand the differences between these two offenses, the elements that constitute each, and the relevant case law.
  7. Sexual Offenses: Sexual offenses require a nuanced understanding of the law. Examine the different types of sexual offenses, their elements, and significant cases to demonstrate your knowledge.

By delving into these key concepts, aspiring solicitors can lay a strong foundation for their criminal law preparation. Remember to supplement your learning with SQE 1 practice exam questions to reinforce your understanding and identify areas where you need further improvement.

Important Cases in Criminal Law

Alongside key concepts, candidates should familiarize themselves with landmark criminal law cases. These cases serve as precedents and highlight the principles and legal tests applied by courts. Not only does having an understanding of important cases demonstrate your depth of knowledge, but it also allows you to apply legal principles effectively in the SQE exam. Here are a few notable cases to focus on:

  • R v Dudley and Stephens: This case explores the defense of necessity and the limits of its application in extreme circumstances.
  • R v Collins: This case outlines the legal test for provocation as a defense in cases of murder.
  • R v Woolin: This case defines the mens rea requirement for the offense of murder, specifically when it comes to indirect intent.
  • R v Brown: This case explores the boundaries of consent in cases involving sadomasochistic activities.
  • R v Gillick: This case establishes the legal test for determining if a child has the capacity to consent to medical treatment or advice.

These cases are just a starting point, and there are numerous other important judgments that candidates should be aware of. Remember to supplement your case analysis with SQE 1 practice mocks FLK1 and FLK2 to familiarize yourself with the format and style of questions asked in the exam.


Successfully navigating the criminal law syllabus of the SQE exam requires thorough preparation and a comprehensive understanding of key concepts and cases. By focusing on areas such as mens rea, actus reus, defenses, and specific offenses like homicide, property offenses, assault and battery, and sexual offenses, you can build a solid foundation for your criminal law knowledge. Additionally, studying landmark cases will enhance your understanding and ability to apply legal principles in exam scenarios.

For comprehensive SQE preparation courses that cover all aspects of criminal law, including key concepts, cases, and practice questions, check out Expert Delaware LLC’s SQE 1 and SQE 2 preparation courses. These courses will provide you with the necessary tools and guidance to excel in your SQE journey.

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