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Humanities and Social Sciences

Undergraduate Law Studies Minor

Law Studies Minor
Effective August 20, 2012

MISSION STATEMENT: The Minor in Law Studies at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) is an interdisciplinary course of studies intended to help students become intelligent and critical scholars of legal and political discourse. While the minor may be useful for students contemplating law school, it is also intended to appeal to a wider group of students interested in issues relating to law and society and careers in public policy related fields. The minor is designed to achieve the following three interrelated goals.  First, to introduce students the major areas of law that affect life in the United States and important legal issues that influence current events. Second, to enable students to become familiar and fluent with a legal vocabulary and legal reasoning. Third, to better prepare students with the analytical and conceptual tools to be critical citizens in our constitutional democracy. In addition to these goals, students who complete the minor and who intend to attend law school may find themselves more prepared than they otherwise would be for the often mystifying and rigorous first year of law school. To help these students, the program contains a strong advising component which assists students who are contemplating law school to provide them with a realistic appraisal of law school and of the legal profession. The counselors will aid students with the law school application process.

REQUIRED COURSES: A total of 18 semester hours must be completed for the Law Studies minor. Students must pick six courses chosen from the list of five clusters below.  Moreover, students must choose a course from each of the five clusters.  Courses taken for the minor cannot serve to fill requirements of the undergraduate core.  Without prior approval, courses taken for a student's major cannot be used to fulfill any requirements for the minor.


Cluster #1 (Foundation) [3 units]

HUMN 3250-3 Introduction to Legal Studies


Cluster #2 (United States Constitutional Thought) [3 units]

Choose ONE:

PSCI 4477 Constitutional Law I

PSCI 4487 Constitutional Law II

HIST 3231 Famous U.S Trials


Cluster #3 (Communication Issues in the Law) [6 units]

Choose Two:

COMM 4680 Mass Communication Law and Policy

COMM 4681 Communication Issues in Trial Court Practices and Processes

COMM 4750 Legal Reasoning and Writing


Cluster #4 (Philosophical Perspectives of Law) [3 units]

Choose One:

PHIL 4260 Philosophy of Law

PSCI 4427 Law, Politics, and Justice

ECON 4230 Law and Economics


Cluster #5 (Law and Society) [3 units]

Choose One:

CRJU 4430 Law and Society

SOCY 4700 Sociology of Law

HIST 4308 Crime, Policing, and Justice in American History



CRJU 4430 Law and Society.  Examines social science perspectives of the law, legal institutions, the legal process and the impact of law on behavior, with particular emphasis on the study of criminal behavior and the criminal justice process in American society.  Additional topics include theories of law and legality and comparative legal systems, lawyers.  Offered each spring.


COMM 4680 Mass Communication Law and Policy.  Survey of major issues and areas in mass communication law, ethics, and public policy.  Highlighted are constitutional issues, libel, privacy, obscenity and indecency, corporate speech, advertising, relationship between the media and the judiciary, protection of news sources, and regulatory issues regarding cable, the internet, and other media.  Offered fall & spring.


COMM 4681 Communication Issues in Trial Court Practices and Processes.  Introduces students to communication and language research aimed at improving the fairness, reliability and validity of court and judicial processes, including lawyer-client interviews, interrogatories, jury selection, jury instructions, witness examinations, and the use of language evidence in court.  Offered each fall.


COMM 4750 Legal Reasoning and Writing.  Introduces students to the fundamentals of legal reasoning and legal argumentation through intensive class discussion, formal debate, and writing.  Attention is given to the relationship between case and statutory law and their application in trial and appeals courts in the United States.  Offered each spring.


ECON 4230 Law and Economics.  Applies economic theory to legal decision making.  Topics include property law, tort law, contract law, the common law, crime and punishment, comparisons to traditional forms of legal decision making and the economic approach to politics.  Offered every two years.


HIST 3231 Famous U.S. Trials.  History of the origins and development of the American constitution, with the famous trials and landmark Supreme Court decisions.  Offered every two years. 


HIST 4308 Crime, Policing, and Justice in American History.  Focuses on changing legal and cultural definitions of crime, the role of police, the evolution of punishment in theory and practice, and the role of mass culture in shaping the social history of crime and justice.  Offered every two years.


HUMN 3250 Introduction to Legal Studies.  Survey of the U.S. legal system.  Introduces students to the materials and methods of law studies and the law and society movement.  Topics include the organization and powers of federal and state lawmaking institutions, court procedures, and the analysis of statutory provisions and judicial opinions.  Offered each fall.


PHIL 4260 Philosophy of Law.  Survey of theoretical positions on the nature of law. Subject matter includes natural law, legal positivism, law as integrity, legal realism, critical legal studies, critical race studies, feminist jurisprudence, the nature of responsibility, and international law.  Offered each spring.


PSCI 4427 Law, Politics, and Justice.  Analysis of the relationship of politics, law, and justice, particularly the degree to which moral norms and political concerns should and do influence legal standards and their perceived legitimacy.  Offered each summer.


PSCI 4477 Constitutional Law I.  Nature and scope of the following American constitutional principles as developed by the U.S. Supreme Court: federalism, jurisdiction of the federal courts, separation of powers, the taxing power, and the commerce power.  Case method.  Offered each fall.


PSCI 4487 Constitutional Law II.  Emphasis on the war powers of the president, citizenship, the Bill of Rights, and the Civil War amendments.  Offered each spring.


SOCY 4700 Sociology of Law.  Consideration of the formulation, interpretation, and legitimacy of legal rules within the context of social organization.  The examination of major social institution in modern society.  Offered every spring.




The semester before a student graduates, s/he must file a plan of study to be approved by the program coordinator.  A signed copy of the approved plan will be placed in the student's file in the CLAS advising office.


The courses must be taken in residence at UCD.  A minimum grade of C is required in each course and students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 in courses taken toward the minor.



To register their intent to complete the minor, students must complete the "Major/Minor Change/Declaration" form.  The form may be downloaded here or is available from the Advising Office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in room 4002 of the North Classroom.  The form should be returned to the Advising Office. 



Additional information about the Minor in Law Studies may be obtained from the Coordinator, Professor Omar Swartz, J.D., Ph.D., 303-556-5660 (



Dr. Marjorie Levine-Clark, Department of History (Gender and Law)

Dr. Betcy Jose, Department of Political Science (International Law)

Dr. Glenn Morris, Department of Political Science (International Law)

Dr. Tony Robinson, Department of Political Science (Constitutional Law)

Dr. Omar Swartz, Masters of Social Science (Mass Media Law, Law and Diversity)

Dr. James Stratman, Department of Communication (Legal Writing/Court Communication)



A strong performance on the LSAT examination is an essential part of the law school application.  Various organizations on or near by campus provide help.  In addition, students have found a course in informal logic to aid in preparation for the LSAT, for example, PHIL 2441.



The Auraria Pre-Law Society is a tri-institutional organization open to all interested students attending the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver.  The society is designed for students who are interested in law school and/or a career in the law field.  The club offers guest speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds including practicing attorneys from varous fields (corporate, environmental, criminal, contracts, business, etc.), professors who were or still practicing attorneys, law school students, admission counselors, panels, and Kaplan representatives.  The goal of the society is to get students as familiar as possible with the processes of admission, the LSAT, and life as a law student and an attorney.  The society meets regularly during the fall and spring semesters.  Interested students should contact Professor Omar Swartz for more information.