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Legal Methods




Admission requirements

  • Class of 2017: Public International Law, Introduction to Socio-legal Studies, and/or Sovereignty & Statehood.

  • Classes of 2013-2016: a similarly-tagged 100/200-level course, or permission from the instructor.

Course description

This course will provide the students with an introduction to Legal Methods and Jurisprudence. The first part of the course, on Legal Methods, will provide the students with a presentation of the major legal systems of the world, the sources of law, both national and international, legal research methods, judicial interpretation, and techniques of rule-drafting. The second part of the Course will provide the students with an introduction to major discussions in Jurisprudence, such as the dichotomy between legal positivism and natural law, the relationship between law and religion, theories of punishment, and questions of use of force in international law.

Learning objectives

The course is designed to allow the students to better comprehend both structure and philosophical context of a legal argument. The ambition is both practical and theoretical. On the practical level, the students will be expected to better understand the sources of law and apply their knowledge to the particular legal reasoning of a case. In that sense, after the course, students will know how to deconstruct the way judges think, and then reconstruct the rules that they apply or discover. They will also know how to do basic legal research. On the theoretical level, students will be expected to be able to put legal discussion in its broader conceptual context. This context will include ethical as well as political dimensions. With this contextualization, the students will be better equipped to understand how law relates to a number of wider societal considerations which are fundamental for a comprehensive analysis of current issues.