Learn Legal Studies Alongside UC Berkeley Students

During your semester-long stay with us, you'll take two 4-unit Core Courses, a 4-unit elective from our general Legal Studies curriculum and a 1-unit course that introduces you to UC Berkeley and prepares you to be a successful student.

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.

Spring 2021 Core Courses

The Core Courses introduce you to the fundamentals of U.S. law, entrepreneurship and legal change.


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


Learn about and experience the legal institutions that comprise American society; understand the history of Berkeley and how it has influenced today's campus; and be prepared to succeed by understanding the processes, practices, quirks and expectations that guide student life at Berkeley.

Professor: TBD

Spring 2021 Electives

Specialize your learning with an elective in business law, constitutional law, criminal law, immigration law, intellectual property law or international law. By taking an elective, you'll explore the brand impact of legal ideas and institutions through the lens of economics, history, philosophy, politics, psychology or sociology.


LS 39D

Read Supreme Court cases and political and legal commentary from across the political spectrum. You will consider not only the opinions of the Justices, but also why they hold those opinions. Discover the way in which courts use authority and craft law.

Professor: Alan Pomerantz


LS 104AC

Examine dominant adult-centered representations of urban youth, their problems and the supposed solutions to these problems. Explore how adults define youth in law, mass media, science (psychology, criminology, sociology and computer science) and education. Throughout the course, you will pay attention to the histories, tensions and implications about different ways of thinking about youth. Within different fields of representation, you also explore the possibilities for youth-centered perspectives that diverge from and challenge mainstream understandings.

Professor: Calvin Morrill


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 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 159

Focus on the legal regulation of sexuality, and the social and historical norms and frameworks that affect its intersection with sex, gender, race, disability and class. You will critically examine how the law shapes sexuality and how sexuality shapes the law.

Our subject matter is mostly constitutional, covering sexuality's intersection with privacy, freedom of expression, gender identity and expression, equal protection, reproduction, kinship and family formation, among other subjects.

You will study case law, legal articles and other texts (including visual works) that critically engage issues of sexuality, citizenship, nationhood, religion, and the public and private spheres domestically and internationally.

Professor: Sonia Katyal


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 190.4

Get an overview of international human rights, including:

  • the field's historical and theoretical foundations
  • the jurisprudence of international human rights
  • empirical insights from disciplines such as sociology, psychology, history and anthropology
  • emerging trends in human rights practice

Professors: Alexa Koenig and Eric Stover


LS 177

Explore the development of American legal doctrines and institutions in their social and political contexts. You also study the evolution of constitutional jurisprudence.

What You Learn

  • Colonial law
  • American Revolution
  • State-building and Republican ideology
  • The 1787 Constitution
  • Liberalism and Bill of Rights
  • Local law
  • Centralized law
  • Creating rights
  • The Civil War
  • Secession and reconstruction
  • Supreme Court reactions to the Civil War amendments
  • Jim Crow law
  • Organizing capital
  • Disorganizing labor
  • Contract Liberalism
  • Speech rights
  • Lochnerism
  • Reproductive rights
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal
  • Brown v. Board
  • Civil and voting rights
  • Criminal defendant rights
  • Affirmative action
  • Gay rights cases
  • Obamacare and Citizens United

Professor: R. Ben Brown


LS 132 AC

Study how the laws of immigration and citizenship have historically included some communities and excluded others through both explicit racial bars and formally neutral requirements. Discuss contemporary immigration and citizenship law, and its role in shaping the borders of our national community today. Focus on such topics as admissions, substantive grounds for removal (exclusion and deportation), the treatment of undocumented immigrants, asylum and refugee policy, and the law of citizenship.

What You Learn

  • Origins of Federal immigration law
  • Deportation
  • Racial Restrictions on Naturalization
  • The Bracero Program and Japanese American Internment
  • National Origins Quotas and Repeal
  • Admissions Today
  • Removal grounds and procedure
  • Control of migration and crime and immigration
  • Undocumented immigration
  • Asylum
  • Immigration and the War on Terror
  • Citizenship acquisition and loss
  • Birthright citizenship

Professor: TBD


LS 147

Learn about the application of economic principles to law, law enforcement and related public policy. You'll study contemporary policing issues, the prison-industrial complex, the wars on drugs and on gangs, and the impact of terrorism and gun control, among other topics.

What You Learn

  • Game Theory
  • Prisoner's Dilemma
  • Rational Crime Model
  • Economics of crime and criminal justice
  • Crime control
  • Contemporary policing issues
  • Prison-Industrial Complex
  • Labor market impact of crime
  • Economics of prostitution
  • Economics of the porn industry
  • Drug war costs
  • War on gangs
  • Political economy of terrorism
  • Gun control issues
  • Control of organized crime
  • Corruption and economic development
  • Hate crimes

Professor: David SundingDavid Sunding


LS 174

What role do cultural, economic and political attributes of nations play in the design of their legal systems, and what are the powers and limits of law in affecting societal changes? We use Israel as a case study for these questions as the country offers intriguing insights about the process of constructing democratic institutions, the interplay between politics and law, and the broader role of constitutional law in state-building.

What You Learn

  • Constitutional challenges in Israel and beyond
  • The roles and perils of constitutionalism
  • Judicial review
  • Comparative constitutional law
  • Israeli constitutionalism
  • Constitutional rights and the limitation clause
  • Boundaries (territory, central and local)
  • Immigration
  • War, terrorism and the rule of law
  • Speech and the political process
  • Nondiscrimination (gender and sexual orientation)
  • Multicultural accommodation
  • The welfare state
  • State, family and morality

Professor: Martin Shapiro


LS 123

Explore different data sources that scholars and government officials use to make generalizations and predictions in the realm of law. You will also get an introduction to critiques of predictive techniques in law. Apply statistical and Python programming skills to examine a traditional social science data set ("big data" related to law) and legal text data.

Course Objectives

  • Use common statistical and computational techniques to analyze different types of data (traditional survey data, big data and text data) related to law
  • Critique the use of data and predictive tools in socio-legal processes, including the identification and punishment of crime

What You Learn

  • Data types
  • Functions in Python
  • Collection and cleaning of traditional survey data
  • Summary stats
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Estimation and uncertainty
  • Correlation
  • OLS regression
  • Regression and causal inference
  • Predicting recidivism
  • Mapping
  • Structured social data prediction
  • Predictive instruments
  • Machine vs. human predictions
  • Machine-learning models
  • Modeling risk
  • Litigating predictive models
  • Surveillance, selection and the ratchet effect
  • Computational text-analysis techniques
  • Text as social-science evidence
  • Ensemble methods

Professor: Jonathan Marshall


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 133AC

Explore the relationship between social movements and the law by focusing on the movement for immigrant rights, increasingly led by undocumented activists. You will question how legal action—statutes, regulations, judicial decisions, and policies and practices of enforcement at both state and federal levels—has helped form this social movement its influence and transformation of the law.

Professor: TBD


LS 158

Look at the relationship between legal institutions and rules on the impact of developing countries. You examine efforts by national leaders, international organizations, foreign-aid agencies and NGOs to "reform" law to promote development, along with the resistance and unplanned consequences that often ensue.

Professor: Bruno Salama


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 153

From what it means to be a lawyer to notions of what is "just" or "fair," courts and dispute resolution outside of the United States can be both very different and, at times, surprisingly familiar. After an overview of concepts and classic approaches to the study of law and society, you will explore these differences and similarities in three Asian settings: China, Japan and India. Topics include lawyers, illicit sex and environmental protection to see how each country's history, political structure, values and interests shape how legal issues are defined and play out.

Professor: Jonathan Marshall


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

Courses subject to change.

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