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Legal Studies Courses

 

Why take pre-law/legal studies courses?

What is the value in taking pre-law courses? First, having some understanding of the law makes the transition to law school easier.  Law schools typically do not ensure that beginning students know the basic structure and nature of legal systems (including the American system); they expect students to “dive right in.”  Second, taking pre-law courses gives students the opportunity to see if they really have the interest and ability to attend law school.  Third, students taking pre-law courses at Edinboro will learn valuable legal research skills that will assist them in law school.  Fourth, students who take POLI 465 (Constitutional Law) or POLI 463 (Civil Liberties) in particular will be exposed to the “case method” of legal education, the dominant method of teaching in law school.  Experiencing the case method as a pre-law student will prove valuable in law school. Fifth, undergraduate pre-law courses examine the law and legal systems from a liberal arts perspective. One’s law school education will be richer for having considered the law and its operation in historical, sociological, and philosophical context.  

Take some, but not too many

A student seriously considering law school should take at least two pre-law courses. It is not advisable, however, to take so many pre-law courses that one’s transcript loses breadth; an undergraduate education functions as a preparation for law school, not as a legal education in and of itself.

Pre-Law Course Descriptions

Introduction to law and legal systems

POLI 343: Law and Legal Systems. This course is a comprehensive introduction to law and legal systems, with a focus on the American legal system. Topics discussed include the concept of law; types of law; legal traditions; the legal process; legal analysis; judicial decision-making; and the structure and behavior of the major components of the legal systems including courts, lawyers, judges, and agents of legal mobilization.
Prerequisite: POLI 101 (Introduction to American Politics) or permission of instructor

BUAD 360: Business Law I.  This course surveys the legal environment managers face with attention to the sources of law and the arenas of dispute resolution, as well as to the relationship between law and ethics.  Studies include the substantive areas of the law most important to the manager: contracts, torts, agency, governmental regulation of trade and the environment.
Prerequisite: ECON 220 (Principles of Economics: Microeconomics) or ACCT 220 (Accounting II) or permission of instructor

Topics in American law

POLI 465: Constitutional Law.  This course surveys major areas of constitutional law relating to the authority and structure of the American political system.  Constitutional issues are examined using the “case method” and in-class discussion.  Students will evaluate the nature of constitutional interpretation and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the American political system.  Some topics discussed include the following: presidential use of military power; the President’s emergency powers; the power of Congress in relation to the states; voting rights and the role of the Supreme Court in settling presidential election issues.
Prerequisite: POLI 101 (Introduction to American Politics) or permission of instructor

POLI 463: Civil Liberties.  This course surveys major areas of constitutional law relating to limits on the use of American governmental power.  Constitutional issues are examined using the “case method” and in-class discussion.  Students will evaluate the nature of constitutional interpretation and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the American political system.  Some topics discussed include the following: individual autonomy in relationship and family planning decisions; the right to die; assisted suicide; equal protection under the law and the attempt to eliminate ethnic and gender discrimination.
Prerequisite: POLI 101 (Introduction to American Politics) or permission of instructor

BUAD 365: Business Law II.  This course presents in-depth business law topics on business organizations, negotiable instruments, credit transactions, bankruptcy, estates, and trusts.  It reviews the professional and ethical responsibility of professionals, including CPAs and CFPs.
Prerequisite: BUAD 360 (Business Law I) or permission of instructor

Law of the American criminal justice system

POLI 265: Introduction to Courts, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure.  This course examines the composition and performance of the American court system.  Topics examined include the nature of American criminal and civil law, the competence and jurisdiction of courts, procedure prior to and during trial, and the interpretation of evidence in the courtroom.
Prerequisite: 
CRIM 100 (Introduction to Criminal Justice) or permission of instructor

POLI/CRIM 469:  Criminal Procedure and Evidence.  Students in this course will discuss and evaluate the rules of criminal procedure and evidence.  Students learn to recognize the constitutional rights of criminal suspects; understand the proper collection of evidence and basic rules of evidentiary admissibility; and examine the historical development of the rules of criminal procedure.
Prerequisite: CRIM 100 (Introduction to Criminal Justice) or permission of instructor

CRIM 462:  Pennsylvania Criminal Code.  This course closely examines the criminal law of Pennsylvania, with an emphasis placed upon recent state court interpretations of the law.
Prerequisite: CRIM 100 (Introduction to Criminal Justice) or permission of instructor

PSYC 355: Psychology and Law. This course will cover the role of psychology in criminal investigations, trials, and in corrections. Issues like eyewitness testimony, polygraphs, competency, assessment of dangerousness, and other related topics will be explored. A general overview of the field and of current problems and procedures will be presented, including discussions of ethical issues raised when psychologists are involved in the legal system.
Prerequisite: PSYC 101 (General Psychology).

Topics in international law

POLI 550:  International Law and Organizations.  This course analyzes the legal and political foundations of the international community, and the relevance of legal norms to contemporary international relations.  It examines the legal relationships of the United Nations and selected regional organizations.
Prerequisite: POLI 103 (Introduction to Global Politics) or permission of instructor

BUAD 410:  Legal Environment of International Business.  This course surveys the legal environment of international business in an increasingly interdependent world and studies the major forms of conducting global business.  It also surveys those laws of the United States that affect the multinational company.
Prerequisite: BUAD 260 (Business Law I) or BUAD 265 (Business Law II) or permission of instructor

Law and political theory

POLI 560: Jurisprudence.  This course examines philosophical issues regarding the purpose, organization, operation, and nature of legal systems.  A mix of ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary, and postmodern philosophers will be used as platforms for discussing the central issues of law.
Prerequisite: POLI 101 (Introduction to American Politics) or permission of instructor

POLI 311: First Amendment Freedoms.  This honors course uses both traditional constitutional analysis and philosophical inquiry to analyze values underlying substantive American constitutional rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, such as freedom of expression, press, petition, assembly, and religious practice; and freedom from discrimination.  The relative “costs” of beliefs, attitudes, and ideals in constitutional law and in the entire American social/legal system are critically examined.
Prerequisite: Enrollment in honors program or permission of instructor