Legal Studies

2014-15 General Catalog

27 Merrill College
(831) 459-2056

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Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

Legal studies is an interdisciplinary major offered under the auspices of the Politics Department. It is designed for students who wish to use the methods and perspectives of various academic disciplines to study legal issues and to use the conceptual framework of the law to illuminate empirical and theoretical concerns in the various disciplines. For example, a student might use approaches from psychology and philosophy to study the legal problem of punishment; or draw on doctrinal categories from public and private law to study the changing historical role of market and nonmarket relations within ongoing institutions; or use approaches from critical race theory and feminist studies to better understand matters of civil rights and privacy.

To complete the major, students are required to take courses in legal institutions, constitutional law, and international law, as well as take courses in each of three broad themes: legal theory and philosophy, the role of law in society, and legal institutions. Each of these themes is intentionally broadly defined. Within legal theory, students may take courses in legal jurisprudence, logic, and theories of crime and punishment; within law and society, courses range from feminism and race to psychology and economics; within public law and institutions, courses range from environmental law to human rights law to an introduction to litigation. Students are also expected to take an introductory course in philosophy. To fulfill the senior exit requirement, students have the option to write a senior thesis or take a senior capstone seminar. The seminar topic changes quarterly.

Legal studies is intended to appeal to students who wish to take a concentration of courses on the law from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. The major is not intended as a substitute or preparation for any part of a law school curriculum but rather as a full field of study within the liberal arts curriculum. As such, it is a good preparation for a variety of future activities. Students graduating in legal studies are particularly well qualified to pursue graduate work on legal topics in humanities and social science disciplines or to attend professional school in fields such as public policy, business administration, social work, and law. Students are also encouraged to participate in field work and law-related internships in the community, and to develop their own extensive independent research projects.

Declaring the major in legal studies is a two-step process: 1) complete and pass course 10 with a grade of C or better; 2) attend a declaration orientation workshop.

The legal studies program offers a minor degree as well as the major degree.

Requirements of the Major

Lower-Division Course Requirements—2 courses

Legal Studies 10, Introduction to Legal Process. All students are required to complete and pass legal studies 10 as a prerequisite to upper-division courses in legal studies and prior to declaring the major.

A student who has not been able to satisfy the pre-declaration requirement (a passing grade in Legal Studies 10) may petition the department for an exception. The letter of petition must explain and document the circumstances that might justify an exception. The department will consider the request and notify the student of its decision within two weeks of receiving the petition or within 10 days of the start of the following quarter, whichever is later.

Philosophy 9, 22, or 24. All legal studies majors are required to take one of the three listed

Philosophy courses. (See the Philosophy section in this catalog for course descriptions.)

Upper-Division Course Requirements—2 courses

111A Constitutional Law or

111B Civil Liberties

160B International Law

Core Course Requirements—6 courses

Students are required to take six core courses, two in each of three concentrations: theory, public law and institutions, and law and society.


103 Feminist Interventions (Politics course)

105A Ancient Political Thought

105B Early Modern Political Thought

105C Modern Political Thought

106 Marxism as a Method

107 Political Morality of Survivorship and Recovery

109 Legal Theory

109 Orientalism (Politics course)

115 Law and the Holocaust

128J The World Jury on Trial

144 Social and Political Philosophy

146 Philosophy of Law

155 Topics in American Legal History

157 Political Jurisprudence

Public Law and Institutions

111A Constitutional Law

111C Issues in Constitutional Law

115 Law and the Holocaust

116 Comparative Law

120A Congress, President, and the Court in American Politics

120C State and Capitalism in American Political Development

125 History of U.S. Penal Law

128 Poverty and Public Policy

128J The World Jury on Trial

128M International Law and Global Justice

131 Wildlife, Wilderness, and the Law

132 California Water Law and Policy

133 Law of Democracy

134 Congress: Representation and Legislation in Comparative Perspective

135 Native Peoples Law

136 Federal Indian Law and Tribal Sovereignty

137 International Environmental Law and Policy

139 War Crimes

149 Environmental Law and Policy

152 Courts and Litigation

155 Topics in American Legal History

156 Administrative Jurisprudence

159 Property and the Law

167 Politics of International Trade

171 Law of War

175 Human Rights

Law and Society

107 Political Morality of Survivorship and Recovery

110 Law and Social Issues

111B Civil Liberties

112 Women and the Law (Politics)

113 Gay Rights and the Law

114 Jews, Anti-Semitism, and the American Legal System

120B Society and Democracy in American Political Development

120C State and Capitalism in American Political Development

121 Black Politics and Federal Social Policy

122 The Sociology of Law

123 Law, Crime, and Social Justice

126 Law and Politics in Contemporary Japan and East Asian Societies

128I Race and Criminal Justice

127 Drugs and Society

135 Native Peoples Law

138 Political Anthropology

142 Anthropology of Law

147A Psychology and Law

147B Psychology and Law

150 Children and the Law

151 Politics of Law

154 The Legal Profession

155 Topics in American Legal History

160A Industrial Organization

162 Legal Environment of Business

169 Economic Analysis of the Law

180 Power, Politics, and Protest

183 Women in the Economy

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement. The DC Requirement in legal studies is satisfied by completing one of the following three paths:

  1. Completion of Legal Studies 111A and Legal Studies 160B or
  2. Completion of Legal Studies 196 or
  3. Completion of a senior thesis, Legal Studies 195A, B, C.

Comprehensive Requirement—1 course

Students can satisfy the comprehensive requirement in the legal studies major by successfully completing one of the following:

195ABC, Senior Thesis. Completion of a senior thesis project of a minimum of 50 pages with a substantial research content, supervised by a legal studies faculty member.

196, Senior Capstone. The capstone course is designed to provide an interdisciplinary integration of themes related to the study of law and includes a substantial writing requirement.


Honors in the legal studies major are awarded to graduating seniors, based primarily on a review of grades and to a lesser extent narrative evaluations, whose academic performance is judged to be consistently excellent by a faculty committee. Highest honors in the major are reserved for students with consistently outstanding academic performance.

Transfer Students

A student transferring to UCSC must meet with the legal studies undergraduate adviser as early as possible to discuss declaring the major and course enrollment. This ensures a smooth transition. Students should bring a copy of their UCSC Transfer Credit Summary, which may be printed from the student portal.

Requirements for the Minor

To complete a minor in legal studies, a student must take Legal Studies 10 and any five upper-division legal studies core courses numbered 101-190.

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Revised: 09/01/14