Loyola University Chicago

Sociolegal Studies Minor

Course Descriptions

Law and Justice

Click on the course title for more information.

All students minoring in Sociolegal Studies are required to take SLGL 200. This course examines inter-disciplinary approaches to understanding the relationship between law and society drawn from anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology, economics, and philosophy. The course explores the ways law shapes society and society shapes law. It takes as a starting point the belief that law does not simply exist on its own, independent of influences by people, politics, and social institutions; rather, the course introduces students to ways law reflects the context in which it is made and used. Specifically, the course explores definitions and concepts of law, the forms law takes and the forums in which it is shaped, the different ways that people understand law and the legal system, the ways injuries and disputes are understood and mediated, and the concept and importance of rights in the United States and elsewhere.

All students minoring in Sociolegal Studies are required to take SLGL 201. This course introduces students to basic legal concepts, different areas of law, and legal research and writing. The course provides students with basic knowledge of the fundamental areas of law (Contracts, Property, Torts, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, and Litigation) and allows students to familiarize themselves with the language of formal law and to become comfortable discussing complex legal issues. The course also develops students’ basic legal research skills, introducing students to state and federal statutes, state and federal case law, and law review articles. 

This course examines the complex relationships between violence and culture using the ethnographic method as practiced by anthropologists and other social scientists. Outcomes: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the ways violence destroys, alters or produces forms of cultural meaning and social action and the ways in which cultural difference impacts patterns of violence.

This course examines the concept of universal human rights, and the social movement that has developed to promote human rights, from an anthropological perspective. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the social and historical origins of the concept of human rights and analyze the debates that arise out of applying the concept of human rights in cross-cultural contexts.

Drawing on case studies, this course examines anthropological understandings of "race," ethnicity, and nationalism.  Outcome: Students will emerge able to understand historical anthropological theories concerning group identities (tribes, race, ethnic groups); the symbolic construction of group identities; the political dimensions of collective identities; dynamics between religion and ethnicity; and the role of colonialism & the state in shaping ethnic relations.

This course examines human rights in Latin America from a multidisciplinary perspective. It asks: what are human rights? Why have human rights abuses occurred and how have Latin Americans responded? Outcomes: Students will understand the international human rights legal framework, be able to analyze why abuses have occurred, and understand how Latin Americans have mobilized by studying specific cases.

This course will explore a variety of ethical and legal issues facing those who use or program computers. Issues can be divided broadly into professional ethics, dealing with the ethical responsibilities of the programmer, and social issues, dealing with concerns we all have as citizens. Outcomes: Understanding of laws and issues in areas such as privacy, encryption, freedom of speech, copyrights and patents, computer crime, and computer/software reliability and safety; understanding of philosophical perspectives such as utilitarianism versus deontological ethics and basics of the U.S. legal system.

This course provides students with an overview of state and federal criminal courts and case processing, including the study of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, jury decision-making, plea bargaining, and sentencing. Outcomes: Students will be able to understand the functions of the state and federal criminal courts, the actors working in those courts and their respective roles, and the procedures for processing of criminal cases.

This course is an introduction to the principles underlying the definition, constitutionality, and application of criminal laws. It includes the analysis of court decisions regarding various state and federal crimes, and the rules of individual responsibility and accountability for those crimes. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the constitutional limitations on the construction of statutory crimes, the elements of different crimes, and the principles governing individual responsibility and accountability for those crimes.

This course provides an in-depth, sophisticated coverage of criminal procedures surrounding investigations, stops, searches and seizure, arrests, interrogations, and procedural remedies. Outcomes:  Students will be able to identify and articulate the origin, interpretation and application of legal procedures as they relate to matters involving the police, and how these relate to the overall operation and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

This course examines the social injustices in the criminal justice system's naming and sanctioning of harmful behaviors as crimes. Discussions will unpack the values, ethics, and ideologies underlying the current retributive system of sanctioning compared to social justice responses to crime. Outcomes: Articulate the meaning of social justice; Discuss restorative and retributive justice.

This course examines current research and theoretical perspectives related to race and ethnicity in crime and in criminal justice processing. It will cover such issues as racial profiling, the effects of drug laws on people of color, minority disenfranchisement from the criminal justice system, and crime and immigration. Outcomes: Students will demonstrate an understanding of contemporary issues and current research and theory about race and ethnicity and their relationship to crime and criminal case processing.

This course investigates the history, scope, principles and components of ancient Roman political institutions from earliest times to that of Justinian. Outcome: Students should be able to explain constituents of Roman civil and legislative procedure, including assemblies, magistracies, courts, etc., as well as the legal appurtenances of those constituents.

This course investigates the history, scope, principles and components of Roman civil and private law from the archaic period to Justinian's codification. Outcome: Students should be able to explain Roman legal and civil procedure, including the legal concepts of property, the person, family law, and legal obligations and issues, including contracts, civil wrongs, etc.

This course investigates the history, scope, principles and components of ancient Greek law and legislation from Homeric times through the Classical Period. Outcome: Students should be able to explain Greek legal, civil and legislative procedure, including concepts of justice and due process, as well as legal issues such as inheritance, homicide, etc., especially in Classical Athens.

Studies in argument and exposition from a lawyer's perspective for students considering the study of law.  Outcomes: Students will gain an understanding of the principles involved in writing clear and effective prose for a variety of legal purposes, and be able to apply these principles to their own writing in the field.

This course is a study of the rights, duties, and virtues of individuals as members of societies, covering issues such as family and state, social justice, international society, war, and globalization.  Outcomes: Students will be able to understand and articulate a deeper awareness of philosophical problems and answers to questions regarding ethics in social contexts.

This course pursues a philosophical analysis of law. It deals with topics such as philosophical presuppositions of law, origin and purpose of law, law as social control, current legal problems involving ethical issues. Outcomes: Students will be able to understand and articulate philosophical problems and answers to questions regarding law and its applications.

This course is an examination of the major theories of political society, studying important aspects of political society and their relationships to human nature. Outcomes: Students will be able to understand and articulate philosophical problems and answers to questions regarding the nature of political society in relation to its members.

The Supreme Court's role in defining substantive and procedural due process issues such as criminal procedure, individual autonomy, and economic regulation. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning and application of due process in American law and its impact in safeguarding individual freedoms and civil rights.

The Supreme Court's role in allocating power among the three branches of the national government and between the state and federal governments. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of alternative judicial approaches to the separation of governmental powers.

The Supreme Court's role in defining constitutional guarantees of equal protection and individual freedom. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning, protection and boundaries of civil rights and individual liberties in American law.

Introduction to legal principles and procedures of recognized international law. Outcomes: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role and impact of law and legal principles and institutions in international relations.

The judicial process in the American court system from the Supreme Court to local trial courts, civil and criminal procedure, appellate court decision-making, and the impact of judicial policies on American politics and society. Outcomes: Students will be able analyze and assess the role and impact of the U.S. court system on the protection of individual freedoms and civil rights.

The nature of law in society, including the constitutional origins and institutional structure of legal systems, the practices of the legal profession, and the substance of selected areas of case law. Outcomes: Students will be able to understand the role of law and the legal system in American politics and its impact on the everyday lives of citizens.

Introduction to the areas of overlap between psychology and the law. Topics include roles of psychologists in legal settings, accuracy of eyewitness testimony, jury processes, accuracy of polygraph examinations, and issues surrounding the insanity defense. Outcomes: Students will learn to analyze biases in the U.S. jury system, elucidate the weaknesses of eyewitness testimony, outline the issues in the insanity defense, understand the issues in Rape Trauma Syndrome and Battered Spouse Syndrome, understand the methods and effects of scientific jury selection, understand the complex issues surrounding confessions, and view the US justice system in a social justice context.

This course trains students to examine the law as a sociological concept and to look at the relationship between the legal system and society. A critical concern is whether changes in the legal system reflect societal change or do changes in the legal system stimulate change in society. Outcomes: Students learn to recognize the close linkage between the law and social structure. They also gain experience examining legal texts and decisions.

This course examines the dynamics of collective behavior and movements promoting social change. Outcomes: Students will demonstrate understanding of competing explanations of social movements and social change, and will be able to test various theories by analyzing historical movements for change.