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.

Fall 2020 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

Fall 2020 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 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 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 110

What are human rights? Can human rights be considered inalienable when history reveals the denial of the rights? What are the barriers to achieving universal human rights? What do human rights campaigns tell us about the solutions to achieve human rights?

Explore these issues through the indigenous context by surveying the cultural, political and legal statutes of indigenous peoples both in the U.S. and internationally. Explore what is needed to achieve rights and reconciliation by focusing on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Finally, take a critical look at the bias and cultural injustices that can underlie policies to stifle progress. Discover the successes of those who persevere to achieve human rights and justice.

Professor: Elizabeth Pacheco-Tejada


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


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 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

Examine key issues of politics through the close reading of a number of literary works.

Professor: Martin Shapiro


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 190.6

In its declaration of independence, Israel declared itself as the fulfillment of the national aspirations of the Jewish people, and at the same time committed to maintaining full equality among all its citizens, regardless of nationality.

These potentially contradicting commitments have been at the center of Israeli political and legal discourse ever since. The course, you will study some of the choices made in Israeli policy, politics and law in relation to the balance between the various competing right and interests.

Your discussions will cover issues such as how its choices reflect on Israel as a democracy and comparison to different paths taken by other countries in similar circumstances.

Professor: Roy Peled


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 102

Examine the American social institution of urban policing by looking at the social, economic and cultural forces that pull policing in the direction of state legal authority and power. Learn how policing shapes and is shaped by the urban landscape. Study topics such as:

  • what is policing and who are the police
  • surveillance and technologies of social control
  • the privatization of policing, including corporate policing
  • the forces that shape policing agencies and personnel
  • changing personnel and organizational styles of urban law enforcement
  • law enforcement abuse of state authority
  • policing urban youth in schools and on the streets
  • post-9/11 policing

Professor: Richard Perry


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 152AC

Scientific advances promise great increases in social good, but whether those advancements bring a better or worse world depends on how scientific knowledge is applied. Applying scientific knowledge in the service of humanity is challenging, and requires an informed, deliberate method. Through lectures, discussions, case studies and field research, you will gain an understanding of the international human rights framework; historical and social context for contemporary human rights violations; insights into the role of race, gender and technology in structural inequality; opportunities to work across disciplines on real-world design challenges; and experience assessing needs and designing for specific, selected human rights apps.

Professor: TBD


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


LS 180

Implicit bias—automatic or unconscious stereotyping and prejudice that guides our perception of and behavior toward social groups—is a fast-growing area of law and psychology. You will look at research in substantive areas of employment discrimination; criminal law; and questions regarding communications, voting, health care, immigration and property. Discuss your research findings that show unconscious gender, racial and other biases that can be used as courtroom evidence to prove discrimination.

Professor: Victoria Plaut

Courses subject to change.

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