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About this course
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Legal Studies is an interdisciplinary, liberal arts major that engages the meanings, values, practices, and institutions of law and legality. The Legal Studies curriculum examines how law shapes and is shaped by political, economic, and cultural forces. The major is designed to stimulate critical understanding of and inquiry about the theoretical frameworks, historical dynamics, and cultural embeddedness of law.
The Legal Studies faculty and students grapple with important questions of social policy within the framework of significant concerns in jurisprudence and theories of justice. These concerns include individual liberty, privacy, and autonomy; political and social equality; the just distribution of resources and opportunities within society; the relationship between citizens and the state; democratic participation and representation; the moral commitments of the community; and the preservation of human dignity.
The major’s course offerings examine law and legality from both humanist and empirical perspectives. Courses are organized into interdisciplinary topical areas that transcend disciplinary boundaries in the interest of collaborative inquiry.
The Legal Studies major is under the academic supervision of the School of Law faculty.
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All Berkeley applicants must meet the following requirement to be minimally eligible for admission the University of California:
Note: UC no longer requires SAT Subject Tests (except to qualify for consideration of admission by examination alone), but certain programs at Berkeley recommend them.
You must complete a minimum of 15 college-preparatory ("a-g") courses, with at least 11 finished prior to the beginning of your senior year. The 15 courses are:
a. History/Social Science: Two years required. Two years of history/social science, including one year of world history, cultures, and geography (may be a single year-long course or two one-semester courses); and one year of US history or one-half year of US history and one-half year of civics or American government.
b. English: Four years required. Four years of college-preparatory English that include frequent writing, from brainstorming to final paper, and reading of classic and modern literature. No more than one year of ESL-type courses can be used to meet this requirement.
c. Mathematics: Three years required; four years recommended. Three years of college-preparatory mathematics that include the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry. Approved integrated math courses may be used to fulfill part or all of this requirement, as may math courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades that your high school accepts as equivalent to its own courses.
d. Laboratory Science: Two years required; three years recommended. Two years of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in two of these three foundational subjects: biology, chemistry, and physics. The final two years of an approved three-year integrated science program that provides rigorous coverage of at least two of the three foundational subjects may be used to fulfill this requirement.
e. Language Other than English: Two years (or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction of the same language other than English) required; three years (third level of high school instruction) recommended. Courses should emphasize speaking and understanding, and include instruction in grammar, vocabulary, reading, composition, and culture. American Sign Language and classical languages, such as Latin and Greek, are acceptable. Courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades may be used to fulfill all or part of this requirement if your high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses.
f. Visual and Performing Arts (VPA): One year required. One year-long approved course of visual and performing arts from the following: dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art.
g. College-Preparatory Electives: One year required. One year (two semesters), in addition to those required in "a-f" above, chosen from the following areas: visual and performing arts (non-introductory-level courses), history, social science, English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science and language other than English (a third year in the language used for the "e" requirement or two years of another language).
Eligibility by Examination Alone
Additional Information Regarding Requirements
In addition, applicants who are residents of California will be offered admission somewhere in the UC system if space is available, and they:
Proficiency in English is critical to success at UC Berkeley.
One of the following exams is:
These exams are:
Language exam results must be received in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions no later than January prior to the fall semester in which the student wishes to enroll. Our code is 4833, same as the SAT.
Eligibility in the Local Context
If you rank in the top 9% of students in your California high school class--and your high school participates in our Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program--you may be eligible for the ELC designation.
We will identify the top 9% of students on the basis of GPA in UC-approved coursework completed in the 10th and 11th grades. To be considered for ELC, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and complete the following "a-g" courses prior to your senior year:
After you enter your coursework and grades in your application, we'll compare your GPA to the historic top GPA for your school. If you meet or exceed that GPA, you'll be designated ELC and we'll add a note to your application. Applications from California will be automatically screened for ELC eligibility when they are submitted.
The campus selects its freshman class through and assessment that includes a holistic review of your academic performance as measured primarily by:
Minimum Admission Requirements for Transfer Students
Requirements for California Residents
Most transfer students enter UC at the junior level. This means that they have completed 60 semester units, general education, and most, if not all, of their lower division major prerequisites.
We review all information, both academic and non-academic/personal, in the context of each student's individual circumstances. To be competitive, present an academic profile with strong grades that includes preparation for your intended major/college.
Most programs will not offer admission to students with excess units, i.e., more than 80 UC transferable semester units before enrollment.
If all coursework was completed at a two-year college, this excess unit policy does not apply.
All coursework from a two-year college is considered lower division.
Requirements for Non-Residents
The minimum eligibility requirements for non-resident transfer applicants are the same as those for residents except that non-residents must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all transferable college coursework.
Transfers from Other UC Campuses
After you enroll at a UC campus, it may be possible for you to transfer to another UC campus. Applications for intercampus transfer are considered in light of your personal circumstances and the availability of space in your prospective major. These students must apply as junior transfers with 60-89 semester/90-134 quarter units.
If you wish to transfer from one UC campus to another, you must submit an application for undergraduate admission during the appropriate filing period.
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LS 100 – Foundations of Legal Studies (changed course number from 100A to 100 beginning Sp12.) (4 units) Core (H, SS)
This is a liberal arts course designed to introduce students to the foundational frameworks and cross-disciplinary perspectives from humanities and social sciences that distinguish legal studies as a scholarly field. It provides a comparative and historical introduction to forms, ideas, institutions, and systems of law and sociological ordering. It highlights basic theoretical problems and scholarly methods for understanding questions of law and justice.
LS 102 – Policing and Society (4 units) Area I
This course examines the American social institution of policing with particular emphasis on urban law enforcement. It explores the social, economic and cultural forces that pull policing in the direction of state legal authority and power as well as those that are a counter-weight to the concentration of policing powers in the state. Special attention is given to how policing shapes and is shaped by the urban landscape, legal to cultural.
LS 103 – Theories of Law and Society (4 units) Core (H, SS) or Area II
A historical examination of major interpretations of law, morals and social development, with special emphasis on the social thought of the 18th and 19th centuries. The course covers Montesquieu, Maine, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and other theorists.
LS 104AC – Youth, Justice & Culture (4 units) Area I or II
The seminar challenges adult-centered representations of urban youth of different ethnicities, their problems, and the supposed solutions to those problems. It departs from the conceptualizations and methods used to study youth in mainstream criminology and developmental psychology. The seminar builds an alternative, youth-centered perspective, exploring what it means to put youth perspectives at the center of socio-legal inquiry. As a socio-legal endeavor, the seminar studies law as it is lived, shaped, and encountered by urban youth in their everyday lives. It illuminates the conceptual frames, methodological tools, and substantive findings that come to the front when the focus is on how youth make sense of their own lives, assert their own views of justice and law, and act on one another. Particular attention is given to youth conflict, peer relations, identity building within and across ethnic groups, claims on space and territory, the salience of law and rights, and adaptations to adult authorities and practices in the contexts of urban neighborhoods and public schools.
LS 105 – Theoretical Foundations of Criminal Law (3 units) Area I or II or III
Criminal law raises fundamental theoretical issues that have occupied philosophers over the years. In the course we will discuss a selection of articles that bring to bear such a philosophical perspective on important aspects of criminal law. Topics include justification of punishment, foundations of blame and responsibility, substantive values protected by criminal law, significance of actual harm, liability of groups and other collectivities, and virtues and limits of the rule of law.
LS 107 – Theories of Justice (4 units) Core (H) or Area II or III or IV
This course examines the idea of justice as a critical standard in law and politics. The main emphasis will be on social justice and the distribution of liberty, wealth, and power in society. The course will cover four modern theories that relate distributive justice to ideas about liberty, equality, need, desert, efficiency, markets, property, and community: utilitarianism (Bentham and Mill), libertarianism (Nozick and Friedman), egalitarian liberalism (Rawls and Walzer), and Marxism (Marx and Cohen). To assess the strengths and weaknesses of these theories, we will discuss their implications for a range of issues, including legal regulation of sex and marriage, labor market regulations, affirmative action, and immigration.
LS 109 – Aims & Limits of Criminal Law (4 units) Area I
Analysis of the capacity of criminal law to fulfill its aims. What are the aims of criminal Law? How are they assigned relative priority? What principles can be identified for evaluating the effort to control disapproved activities through criminal law?
LS 111 – The Making of Modern Constitutionalism (4 units) Area V
Historical examination of the emergence of constitutionalism as an authoritative approach to the study of law and politics; coverage from the 16th to 18th centuries, concluding in discussion of the debate over ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
LS 116 – Legal Discourse: 1500 – 1700 (4 units) Area II
The course focuses on the history of legal thought and discourse from the late medieval period to the Enlightenment. Topics to be considered include the relationship between legal thought and intellectual developments and the relationship between political and constitutional developments and legal discourse. Although the emphasis is on England, there will be some consideration of differences between English and continental European legal thought.
LS 119 – Philosophy & Law in Ancient Athens (4 units) Area V
This is an introduction to important aspects of the philosophical and constitutional thought of classical Athens. We will pay particular attention to accounts of the origins of the Athenian legal system; criticisms and defenses of the democracy; arguments about the nature of justice, law, and legal obligation; and the context of the Athenian way of organizing trials, taxation, and administration. Readings from Aeschylus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, Lysias, Aristotle, and others.
LS 120 – Conceptions of Punishment: Ancient & Modern (4 units) Area I
A comparison of the understanding of punishment prevailing in modern Anglo-American thought and in former cultures such as Medieval Europe, Ancient Israel, and Ancient Greece. The topics include wrongdoing; suffering; deterrence, vengeance, purgation; excuses; volition; determinism, fate; collective responsibility. Most of the readings are in literary works such as the Greek tragedies.
LS 121 – Law in the Bible (4 units) Area II
Topics include law as the divine commands, the divine ordering of the cosmos, God’s historical plan, wise maxims for successful living; the superseding of law by grace, divine freedom. Nearly all of the assigned readings are in the Bible itself.
LS 132AC – Immigration and Citizenship (4 units) Area II or IV
We often hear that America is a “nation of immigrants.” This representation of the U.S. does not explain why some are presumed to belong and others are not. We will examine both historical and contemporary law of immigration and citizenship to see how law has shaped national identity and the identity of immigrant communities . In addition to scholarly texts, we will learn to read and analyze excerpts of cases and the statute that governs immigration and citizenship, the Immigration and Nationality Act.
LS 138 – The Supreme Court & Public Policy (4 units) Core (SS) or IV or V
A policy, as opposed to legal, analysis of a number of earlier and recent Supreme Court decisions.
LS 139 – Comparative Perspectives on Norms & Legal Traditions (4 units) Area V
This course is an introduction to the comparative study of different legal cultures and traditions including common law, civil law, socialist law and religious law. A section of the class will be dedicated to the comparison of the colonial and post-colonial legal process in Latin America and in Africa.
LS 140 – Property and Liberty (4 units) Area II or III
The course will explore the relation between property law and limits of liberty in different cultures and at different times. The course will cover theories of property law, slavery, the clash between aboriginal and European ideas of property, gender roles and property rights, common property systems, zoning, regulatory takings, and property on the World Wide Web. Readings will include legal theorists, court cases, and historical case studies.
LS 145 – Law and Economics I (4 units) Core (SS) or Area III
This course uses the concepts and tools of economics to analyze problems in law, focusing on contracts, property, torts, and legal process. Students will be expected to apply the analysis to a broad array of legal issues.
LS 146: Law & the Economics of Innovation (4 units) Area III
We will discuss how the creation of knowledge, artistic, literary, and musical works are supported in a competitive economy especially in the digital age. We will discuss intellectual property, copyrights, trade secrets, trade marks, and geographic indications, in historical and institutional contexts. We will consider the problems of competition that arise in the digital economy, such as Google Books, the Microsoft antitrust cases, and search advertising.
LS 147 – Law and Economics II (4 units) Area III
Law and Economics I is not a prerequisite. Microeconomic theory will be applied to government and regulation. Topics include the economic analysis of constitutional law, administrative law, regulation, corporations, and environmental law. To illustrate, the behavior of legislators who want to maximize the votes that they receive will be described and predicted. Similarly, the behavior of regulatory agencies who seek to maximize their own budgets will be predicted. The best forms of regulation will be identified assuming that parties subject to it minimize the cost of compliance, as when corporations try to satisfy environmental controls at least cost.
LS 151 – Law, Self, and Society (3 units) Area II
Contemporary political philosophy has been increasingly interested in how conceptions of the self relate to various aspects of our social and political life. These issues have an important bearing on legal theory as well. Law is shaped by certain implicit assumptions about the nature of individuals and collectives, while it also actively participates in forming the identities of persons and in structuring collective entities such as families, corporations, and municipalities. This course will explore some theoretical approaches to this reciprocal relationship between law and the different social actors that it governs.
LS 153 – Law & Society in Asia (4 units) Area II or V
This course offers a comparative perspective on law and legal institutions. Looking comparatively helps shed light on our own system and question what is “normal” or “natural.” From what it means to be a lawyer to notions of what is “just” or “fair,” courts and dispute resolution outside the U.S. 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, the course 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.
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How to Apply
Admission to Berkeley is a two-step process: Satisfying minimum requirements and selection. The process is outlined below :
You may apply either as a freshman or a transfer student. Berkeley does not accept applications for transfer applicants at the freshman or sophomore level, nor for the spring semester.
Applications for admission are available beginning in August of the year prior to the year in which you would enter Berkeley. The application filing period is November 1-30. All applications must be submitted by November 30.
Berkeley does not offer any early admissions or any early decisions.
The University will waive application fees for up to four campuses in order to assist students for whom payment is a barrier to application to the University. Students who qualify for fee waivers and who select more than four campuses must pay $70* for each additional choice. For the fee waiver request, please provide your family income and the number of dependents. The fee waiver program is for US citizens, permanent residents, and applicants eligible for AB540 benefits only.
There are two ways to obtain a fee waiver:
Here's what you'll need:
* Veterans or active-duty military personnel: If you completed courses offered by a branch of the U.S. military, you may indicate your intention to submit your military transcript by checking the box in the "About You" section of the application. If you are admitted and accept an offer of admission, you can then submit official military transcripts (e.g., ACE, SMAART) to the UC campus.
In addition to the basic admission requirements, the campus selects its freshman class through an assessment that includes a holistic review of your academic performance as measured primarily by:
Admission of International Applicants :
Before a U.S. consul will grant a visa, you must prove that you will have sufficient money to meet all your expenses while studying in the United States. You must explain the source of your funds and guarantee that you will receive them while at UC Berkeley.
Unless you are able to provide written evidence demonstrating you have adequate financial resources for the entire time needed to complete your degree program, the consul will not grant a student visa.
If your country's government limits the amount of money that may be sent to its students in the United States, you should make sure that funds will be available.
When you leave your country, you must have enough money to:
You are an international applicant if a visa is required to reside and study in the United States. A US citizen, permanent resident, refugee, or asylee who currently lives and studies outside the US is considered a domestic applicant with foreign credentials. International students in the US on a visa cannot be classified as California residents for tuition purposes
Transfer students :
We admit transfer applicants primarily on the basis of academic performance and preparation, as assessed by a review of:
By the end of the spring term prior to fall admission you must:
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