UMass Logo Image
UMass 2000/01 Online Undergraduate Course Catalog
Academic Information ButtonUndergraduate Admissions ButtonGeneral Information ButtonSite Index Button

Department Listings Image
Department Listings "A-D" Button
Department Listings "E-L" Button
Department LIstings "M-R" Button
Department Listings "S-Z" Button
Department Listings "Show All" Button

> Courses > College of Social & Behavioral Sciences > Legal Studies

Legal Studies Courses
Legal Studies | Courses | Faculty

(All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise noted.)

250 Introductory Legal Studies (SBD) (both sem)

Purpose and functions of law in society. Legal reasoning; direct and indirect impact of law; law and morality; problems of achieving justice in contemporary society. The sociology and problems of the legal profession, police, juries, behavior control and punishment, guilt, and individual responsibility and group problems. Not open to freshmen.

252 Law and Personal Freedom

The nature of freedom in the U.S., focusing on the constitutional guarantees of speech, religion, and asssociation. The evolution of First Amendment rights in Supreme Court doctrine. Case law read and analyzed to extract judicial theory.

275 Interdisciplinary Legal Studies

Law as an institution of argumentation to articulate disputes, create and interpret rules, and invoke state power. Focus on controversial legal issues, including abortion, capital punishment, pornography, regulation of drug use, religion and state, and control of crime, with materials drawn from various disciplines and sources. Intended to assist students in developing their ability to analyze, critique, and make arguments.

298 Practicum (both sem) 1-15 cr

Fieldwork experience for qualified students. Coordinated through the University's Office of Internships. Mandatory Pass/Fail grading. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250. Generally open only to Legal Studies majors. Individual faculty sponsorship required.

333 Law and Culture in America (HS)

Relationship of law to other aspects of American culture at different points in history. Emphasis not on legal doctrine or institutions, but on cultural values found in law. Use of legal artifacts to decipher American history, such as famous trials, legislative issues, strikes, rebellions, and judicial opinions. Law relative to the worldview and cultural assumptions. Some previous work in legal studies required.

342 Legal Imagination

Examines a diverse array of "products" of the legal imagination, including a number of landmark cases in American jurisprudence with a focus on how the arguments and opinions in these cases have been conceived, constructed, and written. Also examines how various fictional and non-fictional works have scrutinized law. How legal imagination has been expressed in visual media, including film, television, architecture,and photography.

391U Due Process in the Criminal Trial

The impact of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments criminal trials. The historical perspective, the current application, and the likely future applications of the amendments. A fundamental understanding of the criminal trial process required.

397 Special Topics

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Intensive study of mediation as an emerging, successful methodology for conflict resolution in the U.S. today. Includes comparative analysis of mediation with arbitration as well as the adversarial/judicial system of dispute resolution.

Family Law

Intensive course in issues of family law. Included: adoption, custody, marriage, divorce, reproductive control, juvenile court, and theories of the family assumed in law.

Law and Popular Culture

The ways in which the law is portrayed in popular cultural formats, with emphasis on popular film and television. Critical works in the areas of television theory, legal theory, and cultural studies used to discuss the ways in which ideas about the law are presented to mass audiences and how those ideas are received and processed.

Legal Construction of Gender

Intensive course dealing with issues of law and gender. Uses feminist legal theory, case law and other readings to examine the law's role in the history of gender oppression as well as current issues of law and gender such as reproductive rights, sex discrimination, rape, and pornography. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250 or background in women's studies, feminist theory.

Law, Crime and Society

The socio-legal development of the criminalization of the juvenile in the U.S. Focus on some emerging trends in case and statutory law dealing with young violent offenders who have been adjudicated as adults. Recent developments on the federal, state, and local level. The role of race, ethnicity, gender, learning and emotional issues, and class.

Human Rights and Wrongs

Introduction to humanitarian law. Topics include theory and history of international human rights law, growth and nature of human rights organizations, regional human rights schemes, cross-cultural contexts and meanings for human rights, the politics and law of immigration and refugees, international criminal law and other mechanisms for humanitarian intervention. Prerequisite: course in Legal Studies or international politics.

International Law and Globalization

Thematic survey of the globalization of law, culture, and politics. Competing arguments about the meaning and effects of globalization, economic globalization, the nature of international law, the influence of the U.S., human rights and refugee protection, the United Nations, and the implications of the rise of the Internet and other global communication media. Prerequisite: course in social science.

Law as Melodrama

The myriad ways in which law functions both as melodrama and in melodramatic genres of literature, film, and television. Discourses surrounding "real cases" as well as constructions of law within fictional texts. Examples of melodramatic genres including Hollywood film melodrama, 19th- and early 20th-century novels, television soap opera, and reality docudrama.

Law and Public Policy

Examines ways in which law, especially constitutional law, influences the adoption, implementation, and public perception of major public policy programs; topics drawn from such areas as reproductive freedom, race relations, separation of church and state, freedom of expression, euthanasia, drug policy, public schooling. Rudiments of library research in law, social sciences, humanities, natural sciences. Not open to those who have taken LEGAL 251 or 290L. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250 or consent of instructor.

Crime on Film: Aesthetics of Murder

How the law translates to film. The purposes for which law narratives are used. The aesthetic and ideological constructions of law and legal issues in feature and documentary films. Textual theoretical approaches to cinema combined with cultural studies and critical legal theory. Classic, art, independent, and contemporary popular films. Films screened during class each week.

450 Legal Research and Writing (both sem)

Fulfills Junior Year Writing requirement for Legal Studies majors. Development of ability to analyze and write about com-plicated legal issues. Writing assignments include case briefs, legal memoranda, and editorials. Basic library research. Open only to Legal Studies majors who have completed LEGAL 250.

460 Legalization of American Indians (HSD) (2nd sem)

Native people in American history. Law as mechanism of cultural oppression, land expropriation. Native culture, social structure through contemporary accounts, recent books, film, etc. Prerequisite: a legal studies course beyond LEGAL 250; exceptions for students with experience or other study relating to native people.

470 Indigenous Peoples-Global Issues

Historical and theoretical framework of international law and politics affecting indigenous peoples, in the context of contemporary issues.

491 Seminar


Selected topics in constitutional law concerning the First Amendment (e.g., free speech) and the Fourth Amendment (e.g., warrantless search and seizure); on-going controversies in the area of intellectual property law, including the problem of applying traditional copyright and patent law to software; the current debate on cryptography. Each participant responsible for presenting one topic in-depth for subsequent discussion by the seminar.

Feminist Legal Theory

Issues of law and gender. Uses feminist legal theory, case law, and other readings to examine the law's role in the history of gender oppression and current issues of law and gender such as reproductive rights, sex discrimination, rape and pornography. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250 or background in women's studies, feminist theory.

Law and the Computer

The impact of computers on the law and legal profession. Exploration of issues related to legal research methods, modes of conflict resolution, the practice of law, and legal doctrines related to information, such as copyright, privacy, and the First Amendment.

Law, Politics and Religion in the Contemporary Middle East

The connection of law, politics, religion, and secularism through focus on the Middle East. Topics include theories of politics and religion; Islamic fundamentalism and law in Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; Jewish fundamentalism in Israel; secularism in Iraq; mixed approaches to religion and law in Turkey; and the legal status of Jerusalem. Prerequisite: course in Legal Studies, comparative politics or contemporary religion.

The Rule of Law in Comparative Perspective

Intensive exploration of the idea of "government by law" through cross-cultural study of its contemporary meanings. Issues include constitutional theory and political institutions; the role of legal actors, political representation, law and religion; the nature and obligations of citizenship, crime, and punishment; socioeconomic justice, and individual liberties. Interdisciplinary social science materials analyzing at least five diverse countries. Prerequisite: course in Legal Studies or comparative politics.

Law and Conscience

Seminar requiring substantial participation. Major examples of tension between conscience and law for individuals and groups, source of conscience, nature of law, personal strengths, and social pressures. Literary, historical, autobiographical, and cinematic work includes: A Man for All Seasons, An Enemy of the People, Naming Names, If Not Now, When?, From Montgomery to Memphis (Dr. King), There Is a River, Rights on Trial, and Chicago Conspiracy Trial.

How the law translates to film the pur-poses of law narratives. The aesthetic and ideological constructions of law and legal issues in both feature and documentary films. Combines textual theoretical approaches to cinema with cultural studies and critical legal theory. Films, including classic, art and independent, and some contemporary popular film, screened dur-ing class each week.

Media Censorship

The regulation of film content, including legal regulation, i.e., obscenity law, and self-regulation, emphasizing Hollywood and the Hays Office. Regulation based on political content, for example during the McCarthy period, and regulation of political content in foreign films and documentary films. Weekly screenings of film followed by discussions.

20th Century Political Trials

What transforms an ordinary criminal proceeding into a political trial. Examination of trials of International Workers of the World (labor radicals), Sacco and Vanzetti, Scottsboro Brothers, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Chicago 8, Black Panthers.

496 Independent Study (both sem) 1-6 cr

Does not fulfill any Legal Studies requirement. Individual projects, involving a high degree of self-motivated study under the supervision of a faculty member. Reading (library research) and writing are basic ingredients: requires faculty-student discussion and consultation. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250 and consent of instructor.

497 Special Topics

Critical Legal Theory

Critiques of law from both right wing and left wing social theory. Examination of these critiques against the historical background of the development of market society (capitalism) and the nation-state in the West. A sample of some of the primary themes involved in a quest for theory in the sociology of law.

Dynamics of Law and Race

An intensive examination of the historical and contemporary relationship between law and race, using some of the leading texts of the movement known as Critical Race Theory. Themes include the distortions introduced into the U.S. legal system by race; laws defining and governing race; the experiences of legal scholars of color in the American legal system; changing forms of racism; shifts in the ideology underlying the treatment of race in constitutional law.

The Legal Profession

History and structure of the American legal profession. Emphasis on empirical studies of lawyers, legal education, legal ethics, professional regulation. Prerequisite: LEGAL 250 and junior standing.

Law and Social Science

The relationship between social science and law, focusing on social science in law (application of social scientific knowledge in legal processes) rather than the social science of law (explanations of law as social processes). First part of course emphasizes social science logic and methods; how to evaluate and apply social scientific research to legal issues. Second part: a series of "Socratic" debates; students present opposing views on a significant legal issue utilizing social scientific and normative (legal) arguments.

Civil Rights Law in the United States

An introduction to the multifaceted history of social justice issues and the law. Through an interdisciplinary use of historical, economic, and sociological materials, an examination of the ways in which law has served to perpetuate social injust- ice as opposed to the advancement of social justice in the United States.

Workers' Rights in United States Law

The impact of economics and class on the rights of workers under U.S. law. Using primary sources and statutory and case-based law, explores the framework of modern labor and employment law. Topics include: the impact of particular constitutional provisions, including the Fourteenth Amendment; the ideological and political underpinnings of modern labor law, including the National Labor Relations Act; the impact of race and gender on social and economic status, and the way law reinforces or responds to this relationship; and a critical comparison of contemporary American labor laws with those of other countries.

War Crimes Tribunals

How law can be used to help nations heal from the wounds of war. Examines proceedings in Nuremberg following World War II. International criminal tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Compares this model to South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Legal Studies | Courses | Faculty

Copyright 2000 University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
This is an official page of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus