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3.1.1 Murder – Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of the third topic in this module guide – Fatal Offences; Murder. The offence of murder is the most culpable form of homicide, and occurs where any ‘reasonable creature in rerum natura’ unlawfully kills any person under the Queen’s piece with malice aforethought. It is likely to feature on exam papers, and will require a discussion of the content in module 2 on actus reus and mens rea. It also overlaps with the offence of manslaughter, in sharing a common actus reus.

At the completion of the section, you should be comfortable with being able to define and identify the actus reus and mens rea of the offence of murder. You should have an understanding of the ‘partial defences’ that allow the defendant to escape liability for murder, but renders them liable under voluntary manslaughter.

This section begins by giving a comprehensive explanation of the various components of the offence of murder. It then explores the three partial defences: Diminished responsibility; loss of control; and killing subject to a suicide pact.

Goals for this section

  • To understand the various actus reus and mens rea components of the offence of murder.
  • To appreciate the mandatory life sentence imposed for the offence of murder.
  • To understand the various partial defences to the offence of murder.

Objectives for this section

  • To be able to define murder.
  • To be able to separate and understand the actus reus requirements of the offence.
  • To be able to understand the mens rea requirement of the offence.
  • To be able to discuss the mandatory sentence for murder as being life imprisonment.
  • To be able to understand the partial defence of diminished responsibility and the four elements required to be shown by the defendant.
  • To be able to understand the partial defence of loss of control and the three elements required to be shown by the defendant.
  • To be able to understand the partial defence of killing subject to a suicide pact.

Start the Lecture

We have three lengths of lecture to suit varying study needs. Select one of the options below to get started (if you have already chosen a study level you will see the option highlighted in violet):

Summary Notes Standard Lecture Detailed Lecture

Problem Questions

Each lecture is also accompanied by hands on examples of problem questions for the subject. You can jump directly to the questions below:

Hands on Examples


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