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Master of Arts in Legal Studies

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  • Entry requirements
    Organized around the theme of law and social transformation, the Master of Arts in Legal Studies is designed for students interested in developing a rigorous and critical understanding of law and relations of governance.
  • Academic Title
    Master of Arts in Legal Studies
  • Course description
    Program Requirements

    In consultation with the supervisor of graduate studies, each candidate is required to complete one of the following programs of studies:

        * 3.0 credits and a 2.0-credit thesis (LAWS 5909), which includes an oral examination.
        * 4.0 credits and a 1.0-credit research essay (LAWS 5908)

    All students are required to take LAWS 5000 and LAWS 5001. These courses provide students with a common theoretical and interdisciplinary framework for the program.

    In addition, students are encouraged to take 0.5 credit in a related discipline, in consultation with the supervisor of graduate studies.

    All students must obtain satisfactory grades in their course work; make satisfactory progress in their research; maintain a close working relationship with their thesis or research essay supervisors; and attend seminars on current research and related topics.

    Thesis/Research Essay

    The thesis or research essay must represent the result of the candidate's independent research undertaken after being admitted into graduate studies in the Department of Law. Previous work of the candidate may be used only as introductory or background material for the thesis or research essay.

    A student may carry on research work related to the thesis or research essay off campus if the work is approved in advance and supervision arrangements have been made with the supervisor of graduate studies.

    Guidelines for Completion of Master's Degree

    Full-time students are expected to complete the required two courses, LAWS 5000 and LAWS 5001, and either an additional 2.0 credits (for those following the thesis program), or an additional 3.0 credits (for those following the research essay program) by the end of the second term of registration. The thesis or research essay should normally be submitted by the end of the fourth term of study.

    Part-time students are expected to complete the required two courses, LAWS 5000 and LAWS 5001, and either an additional 2.0 credits (for those following the thesis program) or an additional 3.0 credits (for those following the research essay program) by the end of their third year of study. The thesis or rsearch essay should normally be submitted by the end of the fifth year of study.


    LAWS 5000 [0.5 credit]
        Theories of Law and Social Transformation
        Examines three groups of theories of law (liberal, sociological and Marxist) focusing on different ways law is conceived as an object of inquiry and on different accounts of trajectories of legal development. Potential of law for realizing or inhibiting social change provides analytic framework.

    LAWS 5001 [0.5 credit]
        Legal Method and Social Inquiry
        Introduces problems of research strategy and methods. Explores contrasting methodologies in legal research; evaluates methodologies employed in understanding legal reasoning, discourses, and practices. Includes seminars in which participants present outlines of their own research projects, focusing on methodologies and research questions.

    Other Law Courses

    LAWS 5002 [0.5 credit]
        Law and Gender Relations
        Examines theoretical approaches informed by significance of gender to structure and operation of law. Concepts such as essentialism, difference, cultural determination, and social construction of gender relations examined in context of contemporary feminist debates. Focus on understanding and facility with feminist analysis and methodology.

    LAWS 5003 [0.5 credit]
        Law, Economy and Society
        Addresses the relationship between law, economy, and society. Competing theoretical accounts of the relationship between legal regulation and social and economic change explored through selected historical and contemporary case studies.

    LAWS 5004 [0.5 credit]
        Law, Crime and Social Order
        Examines theoretical dimensions of relationship between law, state, crime, and social order. Explores scope and limitations of criminal justice system as an agency of social control. Examines shifts in forms of social order and their relation to changes in criminal law and sanctions.

    LAWS 5005 [0.5 credit]
        Law, State and Politics
        Examines theoretical explanations of relationships between law, state and politics, Selected areas such as rights theory, rule of law, separation of powers or judicial review may provide focus.

    LAWS 5006 [0.5 credit]
        Historical Perspectives on Law and Society
        Examines historical relationship between social forces, law and legal institutions and utility of historical forms of knowledge and methods to legal studies. Surveys selected issues in private, public and criminal law.

    LAWS 5007 [0.5 credit]
        Race, Ethnicity and the Law
        Examines ways race and racism interact with gender and class in shaping legal system. Explores ways legal system institutionalizes racism and potential for using the legal system to combat racism. Selected areas such as immigration law and native rights may be used to illustrate themes.

    LAWS 5008 [0.5 credit]
        Consuming Passions: The Regulation of Consumption, Appearance and Sexuality
        Examines rise of consumption and private pleasures and their regulation and self-regulation. Social history of regulation of two fields of consumption: surfaces of the person: personal appearance, in particular of dress, the body, sexuality; and intakes of the body, focusing on food, alcohol, drugs. (Also listed as SOCI 5204.)

    LAWS 5100 [0.5 credit]
        Advanced Problems in Legal Philosophy
        Studies in legal theory and analyses of law advanced by Hart, Dworkin, and others, and legal concepts: for example, principles, rights, duties, liability, etc. Precise course content will vary from year to year and will be announced at the beginning of the term. (Also listed as PHIL 5100.)
        Prerequisites: either LAWS 3105 or LAWS 3101 (PHIL 3101) and LAWS 3102 (PHIL 3102), or permission of the Department.

    LAWS 5200 [0.5 credit]
        International Economic Law: Regulation of Trade and Investment
        Study of regulation of international economic activity. Discussion of relevant international institutions, legal aspects of integration, governmental regulation of trade and investment. (Also listed as INAF 5507.)
        Prerequisite: Open only to students in their master's year who have not studied international economic law.

    LAWS 5302 [0.5 credit]
        Feminism, Law and Social Transformation
        Exploration of nature and possibilities of feminist engagement with law. Policies and strategies of law reform and/or social transformation formulated and evaluated through application of theoretical frameworks to particular topics. Significance of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation is examined.

    LAWS 5305 [0.5 credit]
        Crime, Social Change and Criminal Law Reform
        Examination of the ideological and practical consequences of criminal law reform and policy initiatives undertaken by the state. Specific reform proposals examined to illustrate possible alternate responses to social problems and the varying effects of these responses.

    LAWS 5400 [0.5 credit]
        Law, Economy and the Regulatory Process
        Relationship between law, the economy, and the regulatory process. Examines models from political and economic perspectives, and impact of theories of regulation on regulatory practice and enforcement. Selected topics may be drawn from labour law, housing and consumer protection, environmental protection, and anti-combines legislation.

    LAWS 5405 [0.5 credit]
        Canadian Labour Law Policy from a Comparative Perspective
        Examines major influences on formation of Canadian labour law policy using a comparative perspective to highlight divergencies in Western democratic nations. Question if and why Canadian labour law is distinctive. Includes collective bargaining and regulation of individual employment relationships.

    LAWS 5500 [0.5 credit]
        The Canadian Constitution
        Familiarizes students with terminology, principles, and doctrines of judicial interpretation of Constitution Acts 1867-1982 and other constitutional statutes. Emphasis on division of legislative powers in the Canadian federation.
        Prerequisite: open only to graduate students in their master's year who have not previously studied Canadian constitutional law.

    LAWS 5503 [0.5 credit]
        Advanced Legal Problems of Federalism
        An advanced study of selected Canadian constitutional problems including constitutional revision. Some comparisons with other federal systems may be made.
        Prerequisite: a course in Canadian constitutional law, for example LAWS 5500, or permission of the Department.

    LAWS 5506 [0.5 credit]
        Advanced Administrative Law Problems
        An in-depth study of selected legal questions involving the activities of public authorities.
        Prerequisite: a course in administrative law or permission of the Department.

    LAWS 5603 [0.5 credit]
        International Law: Theory and Practice
        Examines various theoretical perspectives on international law and locates role international law plays in the international system. Topics include basis, creation and sources of international law, international dispute resolution, and international law and world order transformation. (Also listed as INAF 5505.)

    LAWS 5900 [0.5 credit]
        Tutorials/Directed Readings in Law
        Tutorials or directed readings in selected areas of law, involving presentation of papers as the basis for discussion with the tutor.

    LAWS 5901 [0.5 credit]
        Tutorial/Directed Readings in Law
        Tutorials or directed readings in selected areas of law, involving presentation of papers as the basis for discussion with the tutor.

    LAWS 5903 [0.5 credit]
        Contemporary Topics in Legal Studies
        A research seminar which explores a selected topic from current debates in legal studies. Students should check with the Department regarding the topic offered.

    LAWS 5904 [0.5 credit]
        Contemporary Topics in Legal Studies
        A research seminar which explores a selected topic from current debates in legal studies.

    LAWS 5908 [1.0 credit]
        M.A. Research Essay

    LAWS 5909 [2.0 credits]
        M.A. Thesis

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