Book Reviews


Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law

Publisher: Pearson

Authors: Stuart Macdonald

Price: 34.99

Edition: 1st Edition (May 2015)

ISBN: 978-1-4479-2159-2

Buy from Pearson: Click Here

It is likely that one of the first things which strikes you when you start your undergraduate law degree, and visit the local bookshop, is the sheer choice of textbooks on first year modules like criminal law.  There are some long-standing texts and many new texts like Stuart Macdonald's Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law.  Macdonald's aim is simple: to combine detailed commentary and analysis of the law with excerpts from a range of sources, both legal and non-legal, to help set the law in context and deepen the reader's understanding.  While being somewhat ambitious, this aim is impressively achieved.

Written by Dr Stuart Macdonald, Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law is split into eleven chapters: your criminal law toolkit; the anatomy of a crime; key actus reus concepts; key mens rea concepts; homicide; non-fatal acts against the person; sexual offences; property offences; intoxication; mental condition defences; substantive defences; inchoate offences; and accessories.  This covers the main topics of most undergraduate criminal law modules.

Each chapter follows a similar approach and layout.  The chapter objectives are set out.  The text is also clearly separated from the materials (which stands out by the use of highlighted boxes).  There are also sporadic activity boxes (but the answers do not (somewhat disappointingly) appear in the text), flow charts and conclusions at the end of each chapter.  The flowcharts are perhaps one of the best features of the text; they really ensure the reader's understanding of the material is sound.  Each chapter also includes some self-test questions (again without the answers), checklists and a list of further reading.

Macdonald's Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law provides a clearly written and accessible account of criminal law.  It includes extracts from the main cases and materials on criminal law; a vital resource if you do not have ready access to library resources, or just want to consider the key extracts.  The self-test and activity questions usefully encourage the reader to undertake further and independent research (and the further reading list is an excellent starting point).  It would, however, be useful to have some suggested points for these discussions so the reader can test their understanding.  Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law is, for all these reasons, likely to quickly become a text adopted by many students and lecturers.

Reviewed on 17 January 2016

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