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Minor in Law and Society

Law affects all aspects of our lives. It structures our social, economic and political relationships, it allocates property, it defines crime and deviance, and it frames controversial ethical, moral and political debates. As the influence of legal institutions in society grows, an informed understanding of how law works and how it affects social relations becomes increasingly important. Students interested in this program must already been enrolled at Concordia in order to apply to add this minor. Visit the Department of History's Law and Society program page for details on how to add this minor to your current program.

Students are responsible for satisfying their particular degree requirements. The superscript indicates credit value.

24 Minor in Law and Society
6 Chosen from ANTH 2023, HIST 2053, POLI 2043, SOCI 2613
15 Chosen from ANTH 3803, 3633; FPST 3013, 3213; HIST 3093, 3153, 3363, 3423, 3483, 3603; PHIL 3433; POLI 3003,3113, 3203, 3213, 3243, 3253, 3283, 3883; PSYC 2423; RELI 3123; SOCI 2623, 2633, 3623; WSDB 3003,  3013,  4003;  LAWS 41003,  48003,  49003, of which no more than 3 credits may be at the 200 level and no more than 12 credits may be from one department

Note: Students interested in registering for this program should contact the Department of History.


1. Introduction (3 credits)

All students must take the following course, preferably in the first year of the program.

This interdisciplinary course examines the roles law plays in Canada and internationally, from the perspectives of history, political science, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy.


2. Analytical Tools and Contexts (6 credits)

Students must take TWO of the following courses, selecting one course from each of two of the following units. Students whose major program is in one of the following units must draw from the other units. Another relevant 200-level course in these or another unit may be substituted with permission of the program advisor.


An introduction to the anthropological study of culture. The course begins with a consideration of the concepts, models, and methods used by anthropologists. This is followed by an examination of the many ways in which peoples of the world, past and present, have organized the activities, institutions, and belief systems that sustain social life. The course concludes with a discussion of the relevance of cultural anthropology to contemporary issues.


A survey of Canadian history from Confederation to the present, emphasizing readings and discussions on selected problems.

Political Science

This course is a basic introduction to the fundamental issues of Canadian public life and the federal political system. It presents an overview of the constitution, institutions, political parties, electoral system, interest groups, and public opinion that represent the essential components of Canada's political culture and government.


Students examine a range of social problems related to aging, health, poverty, population growth, crowding, crime and justice, gender and gender orientation, inequality, media, non-medical drug use, suicide, globalization, and race, ethnicity, and language issues. Attention is focused on the process by which social problems are defined and recognized, and social policies developed and modified.


3. Approved Courses (15 credits)

Students must take FIVE of the following courses, no more than 3 credits of which may be at the 200-level. Another relevant course (at the 300- or 400-level) may be substituted with permission of the program advisor.


Psychology and the law interact in myriad ways. The criminal justice system, from its code to its enforcement, is based on implicit psychological assumptions about human behaviour and how it should be controlled. Those in the justice system make decisions based on evidence from observations and testimony, both of which are assumed to be gathered in an objective, unbiased manner. Those in psychological professions assume they can influence decisions made in the legal system by providing experimental evidence. This course examines the roles psychologists play in the legal system, the assumptions of both legal and psychological professional groups, and how these groups can complement one another.

Attention is focused on various forms of anti-social behaviour, particularly those that are socially induced. This course examines the nature, forms, sources, functions, and dysfunctions of deviations from social norms, and the mechanisms of social order and control. Deviance is viewed as a social process of interaction and relationships that derive from the social structure and have consequences for it. Various forms of deviance are considered in terms of contemporary social theory and research.

This course examines the nature of juvenile crime and delinquency and their social causes and consequences. Juvenile crime and delinquency, as special kinds of deviance, receive the focus of attention, with emphasis on criminal justice, juvenile justice, criminal behaviour systems, and social policy on juvenile crime and delinquency.


Prerequisite: See N.B. numbers (1) and (3). The course develops, through case analysis, insight into the differing priorities and competing concepts of human rights and human dignity in "non-Western" cultural traditions as well as in "Western" societies. It explores the significance of religious and other ideological positions in the use and abuse of human rights by governments, extra-governments, international bodies, as well as the general public. The course also examines topics such as women's human rights, sexuality and human rights, and human rights in development, the limits of sovereignty, and state accountability.

Prerequisite: See N.B. numbers (1) and (3). This course situates the study of law in cross-cultural perspective. It involves an examination of the kinds of institutions found in place of courts in non-Western societies. This course also explores numerous issues of relevance to the legitimacy of contemporary Western legal systems, such as the relationship between law and morality, the idea of right prior to good, and the nature of legal reasoning.

Prerequisite: See N.B. numbers (1) and (3). This course situates the study of law in cross-cultural perspective. It involves an examination of the kinds of institutions found in place of courts in non-Western societies. This course also explores numerous issues of relevance to the legitimacy of contemporary Western legal systems, such as the relationship between law and morality, the idea of right prior to good, and the nature of legal reasoning.

Prerequisite: FPST 301. This course focuses on the relationship between First Peoples and the Canadian justice system. It looks specifically at how the Canadian legal, judicial, and penal system has dealt with First Peoples through time. The course also explores pre-contact forms of justice, tensions between European and indigenous conceptions of justice, First Peoples response to Canadian justice, and the emergence of alternative, indigenous mechanisms of judicial administration within communities in Quebec and Canada.

Prerequisite: See N.B. number (1). This course examines selected issues in Canadian history through the lens of important and controversial court decisions. The influence of legal decisions on society as well as public influence on the development of law is considered.

Prerequisite: See N.B. number (1). This course examines historical and contemporary aspects of Canada's culture of rights. Topics include the origins and workings of the Canadian Charter and critiques of rights culture.

This course traces Mexican history from the colonial period to the modern era through an analysis of the various groups that state and society have defined as deviant, including barbarians, heretics, vagrants, lunatics, prostitutes, bandits, and insurgents. This course examines what the shifting preoccupations with and the persecutions of these groups reveal about the creation of political and social orthodoxy in Mexico across time.

This course considers how crime was conceptualized and handled in Europe between circa 300 and 1500. Topics may include the early medieval law codes; violence and feud; trial by ordeal; punishments and mitigations; and the establishment of royal judicial prosecution of crime as an early aspect of European state formation.

This course examines the multiple facets of violence in Middle Eastern historical contexts. The objective is to develop a critical approach for thinking about the nature of violence by using a historical perspective to complicate commonplace oppositions between its legitimate and illegitimate forms or its intelligibility and unintelligibility. Students explore the differences among state sanctioned violence, resistance movements, and terrorism.

Through the comparative and historical examination of a number of cases, this course investigates the meaning of genocide and the processes that led to genocide from 1945 to the present.

A philosophical study of natural law, legal positivist, and legal realist replies to the question of what law is. Contemporary and classical replies are criticized and are applied to cases. The associated issues of legal moralism, legal justice, legal obligation and its limits, and legal reasoning are treated.

This course introduces students to the legal regimes affecting not‑for‑ profit organizations (NPO). The course covers the legal structures, rules and procedures that govern NPOs, the vast diversity of NPOs, and practical questions such as how to set up an NPO.

This course explores the meaning, effectiveness, and potential of interstate law. Among the topics covered are: the source and development of international law; the role of the International Court of Justice; sovereignty, territory, and natural resources; human rights violations, the state and war crimes tribunals; and international environmental law.

This course is an overview of the major legal systems of the Western world, with special emphasis on the political decisions which influenced their growth and direction. It will study the development of Roman law, Romano-Germanic law, and English common law.

This course is an introduction to Canadian and Quebec law. Certain areas of criminal law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Quebec civil law are emphasized. An analysis is undertaken of criminal court structure and procedure, legal constitutional rights, and civil court structure and procedure.

This course examines the judicial and parliamentary responses to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Particular attention is paid to the judicialization of politics and the emerging dialogue on rights between courts and legislatures in important areas of public policy.

This course covers the purpose and nature of administrative law in the Canadian context. It examines how administrative law regulates the activities of government agencies, boards, commissions, and other departments or offices. It also covers the role of appeals processes and judicial review of administrative action.

This course reviews theoretical debates about the role of the state and the individual, collective and individual rights, integration, and the role of cultural diversity and identity. It examines selected policy demands of women, the poor, refugees, and other constituencies.

This course surveys normative questions comprising human rights discourse, with an emphasis on international efforts to promote human rights standards. Topics include the role of the United Nations, the North-South debate, environmental security, the obligation of individuals and states, women's rights and the work of non-governmental organizations. Special consideration is given to the controversy between the universal and particular applications of human rights.

This course considers ethical issues arising in the context of social, legal, and political relations. These issues are discussed in relation to both traditional and contemporary moral perspectives, both religious and non-religious. Topics covered typically include discussions of social and economic inequality, welfare, poverty, just punishment, business ethics, public ethics, economic development, and sustainable development.

Prerequisite: See N.B. number (1). This course provides a critical analysis of the Canadian criminal justice system. The focus is on the process by which the accused is judged guilty or innocent, sentenced, punished or "corrected", and the treatment of the victim.

During the late-20th century, human rights became a dominant frame for thinking about social justice. This course questions the role of human rights in struggles for justice, and it examines and critiques practical forms of human rights activism. Primary texts are studied and scholarship from women’s studies, history, political science, and anthropology.

Spanning federal, provincial, and international processes, this course explores the legal, political, and social bases for Canada’s account of itself as a sovereign country existing on Indigenous territories. The course considers the role of ideas about gender, race, and marriage in settler expansion and Indigenous dispossession. Students study primary texts and scholarship from women’s studies, Indigenous studies, history, political science, and law.

This course examines the relationship between law and feminist thought and action in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course confronts the reality that the law underpins a world shot through with injustice, yet those seeking justice often turn to law to remedy that injustice. The course explores how structures of domination underpin the law and how law creates and perpetuates structures of domination. Students read statutes and legal cases and scholarship from law, political science, women’s studies, and history.

This advanced seminar focuses on a selected topic in law and society. The specific content may vary from year to year.

This unpaid internship pairs students with one or more judges of the Civil, Criminal, and/or Youth Divisions of the Cour du Québec in Montreal. Students attend regular meetings at the court, where they are mentored by one or more judges. Students attend court, research cases, and discuss cases with judges and court personnel. In addition to attendance at court, students are expected to report on their internship in written papers and/or oral presentations.

Students undertake advanced research in law and society, under the guidance of a supervising faculty member.

History prerequisite N.B. number (1)

(1) 300-level courses are generally open only to students who have successfully completed 24 credits. Students who do not have this prerequisite may register with the permission of the Department.

Sociology and Anthropology N.B. numbers (1) and (3) prerequisites

(1) 300-level courses are open to students who have successfully completed SOCI 203 or equivalent, plus at least three credits of 200-level Sociology courses. Students in related disciplines who wish to take cognate courses in Sociology may apply to the Sociology undergraduate advisor for waiver of prerequisites on the basis of equivalent background.

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