Learn Legal Studies Alongside UC Berkeley Students

During your semester-long stay with us, you'll take two 4-unit Core Courses, a 2-unit Core Course on legal writing and practice, and an elective course (2–4 units) from a curated list of Legal Studies courses or the UC Berkeley course catalog. Berkeley Law faculty teach all Legal Studies courses, which creates opportunities for intellectual and social exchange between yourself and UC Berkeley students.

To earn the certificate, you must:

  • Complete 2 core courses, 1 elective from the curated list, and the "Law in Action" introductory course for a minimum of 12 units.
  • Successfully complete all course requirements with a grade of C or better.
  • Earn a final program Grade Point Average of 2.5 or higher based on all courses taken at the University of California.

Transfer Courses!

Earn units that can transfer to your home university.

Units earned in this program can be transferred back to your home university, or help prepare you for graduate and professional schools. Learn more about transfer credits.

What do the letters and numbers mean in a course title? How will this help me transfer units? Read about our course letters and numbers.

Fall 2021 Core Courses

The Core Courses emphasize the fundamentals of U.S. law and legal institutions.


LS 138

Discuss major Supreme Court decisions in relation to constitutional doctrine and public policy controversies at the time they were handed down, then place those decisions in a broader historical context. Consider the importance of the Court and the impact of its decisions.

What You Learn

  • The Supreme Court
  • Advocating for racial integration
  • Brown v. Board
  • Supreme Court Limits on Brown
  • Enforcing rights
  • Lessons from criminal constitutional law
  • Court and vote equalization
  • Voting and reproductive rights
  • Gun rights
  • Gay rights and gay marriage
  • Supreme Court influence on public policy

Professor: R. Ben Brown


LS 100

This liberal arts course will give you an introduction to the foundational frameworks and cross-disciplinary perspectives from humanities and social sciences that distinguish legal studies as a scholarly field. Gain a comparative and historical introduction to forms, ideas, institutions, and systems of law and sociological ordering. Study basic theoretical problems and scholarly methods in order to understand questions of law and justice.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the law in the broadest sense
  • Learn both normative and positive approaches to law, legality and justice in scholarship and in concrete institutional forms
  • Become familiar with legal studies' disciplinary intersections, conflicts and convergences
  • Understand empirical-quantitative, experimental, ethnographic-qualitative, logical-analytic, archival and narrative learnings
  • Study the emergence and functioning of core legal institutions, emphasizing courts, governmental agencies and regulatory bodies, and non-state entities such as law firms and law schools
  • Become familiar with the continuing development of the legal profession in its diverse forms of knowledge and practice
  • Understand the conceptual structure of law and legality

What You Learn

  • Foundational concepts, methods and frameworks
  • Legal and social-scientific conceptions
  • Modern legal culture and legality
  • Socio-historical foundations of American legality
  • Individual rights
  • Law and society
  • Legal institutions and roles
  • Due process and procedural legitimacy
  • Courts and process
  • The lawyer profession
  • International and domestic law after World War II

Read more about previous student projects that explore how law works in society, politics and the economy.

Professor: Richard Perry


LS X400 (2 units)

Get an introduction to the program, gain experience with legal writing that you can expect to do in a postgraduate program. You will put an emphasis on finding, selecting and citing relevant legal authority; evaluating sources; and using the conventions of written legal analysis. These legal writing experiences will be linked to opportunities to observe legal processes and organizations in the Bay Area.

Fall 2021 Electives

This curated list of elective courses cover doctrine in key areas of law, such as business law, constitutional law, criminal law, immigration law, intellectual property law and international law. These courses also explore the broad impact of legal ideas and institutions on every facet of life via the economics, history, philosophy, politics, psychology and sociology of law.

Courses subject to change.


LS 103

Peoplehood encompasses the ideas, identities and institutions that define political membership. Learn to explore, discuss and better understand the relationship between peoplehood and politics. Look at contemporary law and politics in the United States with an eye toward how current law and politics is rooted in history and how it compares to elsewhere.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the relationship between law, politics, society and economy
  • Learn about the connection between historical change and legal change
  • Identify the role of law in the processes of social integration and social discipline
  • Understand the distinctive elements of legal ordering in the modern West

What You Learn

  • Citizenship and race-making
  • Counting and categorizing race
  • Explaining racial inequality
  • Racial discrimination at the individual and institutional levels
  • Racial prejudice in the electoral arena
  • Racial profiling
  • Crime and punishment
  • Reparations
  • Illegal, undocumented immigration and pathways to citizenship
  • Grassroots mobilization and protest politics
  • Race and political parties
  • Identity and representation
  • Race and voter mobilization

Professor: Christopher Tomlins


LS 107

Study major perspectives in social and economic thought, such as:

  • natural law
  • natural rights
  • laissez faire
  • possessive individualism
  • contractualism
  • pluralism
  • social equality

Understand these topics as they affect contemporary discussion of higher law, fairness, civic competence and distributive justice.

Professor: Sarah Song


LS 140

Explore the relation between property law and limits of liberty in different cultures and at different times. You will learn about:

  • theories of property law
  • slavery
  • clash between aboriginal and European ideas of property
  • gender roles and property rights
  • common property systems
  • zoning
  • regulatory takings
  • property on the Internet

Readings will include legal theorists, court cases and historical case studies.

Professor: R. Ben Brown


LS 145

Use the concepts and tools of economics to analyze problems in law, focusing on contracts, property, tort, and legal process. Then apply your analysis to a broad array of legal issues.

Professor: Bruno Salama


Learn about the role that law plays in the construction and growth of entrepreneurial enterprises. Start by studying the theory behind entrepreneurship, paying attention to the various kinds of entrepreneurship that exist in our world and the theory and research behind the entrepreneurial venture. Then, understand the issues that arise during the formation of a startup enterprise. Learn about the the role law plays in developing business, marketing, organizational and financial plans. Then, focus on finding sources of capital, addressing the role of venture capital and public offerings. Finally, discuss strategies for growth and exit, including joint ventures, acquisitions, mergers, buyouts and liquidation.

Course Objectives

  • Analyze the conditions for entrepreneurial success
  • Demonstrate that you know what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur
  • Analyze new business opportunities that exist in the marketplace
  • Distinguish between different types of innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Describe the role of law in facilitating and regulating entrepreneurship
  • Evaluate the feasibility of pursuing an opportunity that you've recognized

What You Learn

  • Foundations of entrepreneurship
  • Ideas and opportunities
  • Intellectual properties and other legal issues for the entrepreneur
  • Intellectual property transaction issues
  • Business plans
  • Financial plans
  • Funding your venture
  • Managing growth

Professor: Sonia Katyal


LS 190.4

From the Grammys to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. From tech moguls to NFL players. From quiet #MeToo posts to #WhyIStayed tweets. From rappers to our neighbor, stories of intimate partner violence permeate our society. How has the U.S. legal system responded to this violence? What are the best legal responses? Who decides? Are even the best laws the best response to such violence?

Investigate the phenomenon of intimate partner violence (also known as family violence or domestic violence) by studying:

  • empirical evidence
  • theories of violence
  • the disparate impacts of intimate partner violence on different communities
  • the connection between intimate partner violence and gun violence
  • the effects of intimate partner violence on individuals, families and communities

Assess and analyze the responses by the United States legal system (and lateral/alternative systems) to this persistent and prevalent social problem.

Professor: Mallika Kaur


LS 160

Punishment as a legal institution is a part of state power and must be understood to address multiple concerns and audiences. Explore the roots of penal change in the economically advanced countries since the 18th century. Pay special attention to California's penal crisis in the early 21st century and compare it to trends in the rest of North America, Europe, Asia and South America.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the different social purposes that punishments generally and historically serve
  • Identify the social meanings punishments produce and engage
  • Describe the salient features of specific penal practices, such as public scaffold execution or penitentiary-style incarceration
  • Understand the state and social institutions and forces that influence or are influenced in the penal field and derive power from that field.
  • Know the development history of the United States' current penal practices and what alternatives have been tried or untried in the past
  • Draw on empirical and normative scholarship about punishment in the United States and other societies

What You'll Learn

  • Punishment and social theory
  • Punishment, solidarity and civility
  • Punishment and social control
  • The birth of the penitentiary
  • The death penalty in an age of (global) abolition
  • The American way of death
  • The modernization of capital punishment
  • Proposition 34 and the future of capital punishment in the U.S.
  • Capital punishment in India
  • Health and humanity of prisons
  • Prison labor
  • Prison discipline and rehabilitation
  • Mass incarceration
  • Soviet to Russian prisons
  • Drug policy and mass incarceration in Thailand
  • Secured housing-unit prisons
  • Mass incarceration and chronic illness
  • Human rights and the future of imprisonment
  • Life without parole in Europe and the U.S.
  • Restorative justice
  • Monetary fines (and their equivalents)

Professor: Richard Perry


LS 162AC

The criminal justice system is both a product and a powerful engine of racial hierarchy in American society, and strategies of restorative justice hold out promise as practices of racial justice. Explore this thesis by examining the ways in which criminal justice systems shape the emotions and social relations of victims, offenders and members of the larger community.

Professor: TBD


LS 164

Investigate the role of law and legal institutions in shaping and defining racial minority and majority communities. You will discuss the definition and meaning of race in U.S. society and critically examine the connection between law, race and racism, both in the historical context and in modern society.

Professor: Trina Thompson


LS 181

Study the implications of cognitive, social and clinical psychology for legal theory, policies and practices. You will analyze the psychological aspects of intent, responsibility, deterrence, retribution and morality. You then examine applications of psychology to evidence law; procedure ; and topics in criminal, tort and family law.

Professor: Victoria Plaut


LS 184

Explore major issues and debates about the sociology of law, including:

  • theoretical perspectives on the relationship between law and society
  • theories of why people obey (and disobey) the law
  • the relationship between law and social norms
  • the “law in action” in litigation and dispute resolution
  • the roles of lawyers, judges and juries in the legal system and in society
  • the role of law in social change.

Professor: Tania DoCarmo


LS 109

During the first half of the course, you examine core concepts and doctrines of Anglo-American criminal law in a critical law and society fashion. You then address recurring conceptual controversies in thinking about crime in the U.S. since the 18th and 19th centuries. Focus your studies on recent developments in criminal law and consider emerging theoretical frameworks to understand these recent developments.

Professor: Richard Perry


LS 170

Examine the nature and extent of crime in America and the uses and limits of the criminal justice system in dealing with it.

Discuss competing explanations of the causes of crime, and assess strategies for crime prevention and control, both within the criminal justice system and beyond. Take an in-depth look into the criminal justice system, including:

  • the police
  • constitutional rights and the exclusionary rule
  • role of the defense attorney and the prosecutor
  • bail
  • trial
  • guilty plea
  • sentencing and corrections
  • penalty of death

Professor: Elizabeth Pacheco-Tejada


LS 190 (1—4 units)

These seminar upper-division courses do not have discussion sections or Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs). They are designed to be smaller in size and involve more discussion. The following seminar courses will be offered in Fall 2021:

  • Monetary Law and Regulation
  • Racial Foundations of the UC
  • Human Rights and Civil Rights in Israel
  • Law and Social Change in Israel
  • Law, Justice and Constitution in German History
  • Fundamental Rights under the Constitution


LS 125 (4 units)

Get an introduction to the concept and practice of human rights research and investigations, with an emphasis on the collection and analysis of online open-source information. In addition to lectures and readings, you will become familiar with the the Human Rights Investigations Lab at Berkeley Law's Human Rights Center, an effort that supports the work of Amnesty International, the Syrian Archive and a number of other organizations that are working to bring awareness to and collect evidence in support of international atrocity cases, including human rights law firms and international commissions of inquiry. You will have an opportunity to engage in one or more real-world investigations.


LS 136 (4 units)

Investigate the logic and lived reality of authoritarian law, with the goal of complicating the popular notion that authoritarian law is simply an instrument of state repression. You will mix theoretical readings on approaches to law and the logic of courts with empirical studies of how law works in two historical settings (Nazi Germany and East Germany) and two contemporary cases (China and Russia). Part of your focus will be on elite politics, particularly the reasons why leaders devolve power to courts and the control strategies they deploy to keep judges, lawyers and plaintiffs in check. At the same time, pay close attention to everyday law and how ordinary people experience the legal system.


LS 173AC (4 units)

In this introductory course, you will learn about the origins, development and expansion of European settlement in North America. You will concentrate on the impulses-commercial, ideological and racial-that drove European colonizing; the migrations (voluntary and forced) that sustained it; and the political and legal "technologies" that supplied it with definition, explanation and institutional capacity. Pay attention to themes such as sovereignty, civic identity, race and "manifest destiny," as well as discuss how law provided the language and technical capacity to transform territory into property, people into slaves, and the land's indigenous inhabitants into "others" who existed "outside" the civic order of the American Republic.

Instead of taking one of the above electives, you may take a class from the Berkeley course catalog.

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