A List Of The Most Interesting Dissertation Topics In Criminal Law


Outside of the resolution of contractual disputes, or the functioning of governments, the greatest pillar of law lies in criminal law. This is the area of law that deals with what is harmful to people. Obviously its study stretches back to the earliest religious prohibitions against “deadly sins” like murder and theft. But as societies evolve to become evermore complex, our understanding of what constitutes criminality changes. This certainly means that the subject is far from exhausted, and that there are still many interesting dissertation topics to stimulate your interrogatory mind.

  1. Crime and (No) Punishment: Punishment has long been seen as key to deterrence. But in some instances, rehabilitation should fit the crime, not punishment. In what areas can societies soften their stance?

  2. On Retribution: If punishments, beyond reasons of incapacitation, often foster recidivism, can societies formally orient their criminal justice systems to be entirely retribution free?

  3. Actus and Mens: Judges have generally concluded that, in crimes where both a criminal action and intention must be present, they must occur at the same time. How does modern neuroscience challenge this standard?

  4. eProperty: The protection of property must now cope with new, virtual forms of property. For example, players of massive online games may accumulate “gold” in those games that have no value in the real world, but could still be stolen. How must existing laws adapt to these developments?

  5. The Drinking Defence: In very rare circumstances, intoxication may apply as a defence. That is at odd with increasingly strict laws against drinking and driving, and reopens the old debate: With foreknowledge of the risks of intoxication, should defendants ever be able to claim it?

  6. Witness Protection: Prosecutions are frequently achieved on the testimony of witnesses. But do new insights into the fallibility of memories mean its time to change the standards of what is regarded as reliable?

  7. Abjure the Jury: Though popularised culturally, most countries do not judge the guilt of defendants through jury trials… The task is left to professional judges. What would it take to change the approach?

  8. Evidently Clear: As forensics becomes increasingly specialised, and as human cognitive biases become increasingly clear, do criminal justice systems need to implement far more responsive and thorough mechanisms to continually refine the rules of evidence?

  9. Crossing Borders: Much of law is contextual to cultures and societies. Are there any truly universal bases, then, on which international criminal courts could succeed?

  10. An Age Old Question: Rather than defined age ranges, is it plausible that the treatment of juveniles as adults could be determined by more case-specific means that would adjust to shifting cultural norms of adulthood?

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