Students in the interdisciplinary Law and Philosophy Specialization delve deeply into material on the nature of law and legal systems, and on the theoretical underpinnings and justifications of particular doctrinal areas such as constitutional law, criminal law and contract. Students need not have any prior background in philosophy, but a strong interest in the subject is recommended.
Any student in good standing may apply to be admitted into the Specialization. Interested students should fill out a (non-binding) declaration of intent the summer after their first year available through the Registrar.
The Specialization is not a separate degree program, but rather a specialization within UCLA School of Law. A student who completes the Specialization with a B or better in each qualifying course and a B+ in the writing requirement, will receive a transcript notation indicating successful completion of the Specialization.
Course Enrollment Preferences
Students enrolled in the specialization have priority enrollment for Core List courses but not for the courses on the qualifying list. The Registrar will provide pre-enrollment information for each semester.
Law & Philosophy Specialization for Philosophy Graduate Students
Enrolling in Law Courses
Subject to approval by the Graduate Advisor in Philosophy, the Faculty Director of the Program, and advance consultation with the law school Registrar, philosophy graduate students in their third year or beyond who have academic interests in law and philosophy will be permitted to take up to four law school courses, including courses in first year subjects. Enrollment in any law school course or seminar will require the consent of the instructor.
Graduate students taking law school courses may be permitted with instructor consent to write a paper in lieu of taking an exam and, in any case, would not be subject to the curve applied to law students. These courses will not, typically, be counted toward Ph.D. course requirements, although students may petition the Graduate Advisor for an exception.
Philosophy students who complete four law school courses (only one of which may be the legal theory workshop) each for a grade of B or higher, and who write a substantial research paper on law and philosophy will receive a notation on their departmental transcripts that they have completed the specialization in law and philosophy.
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Specialization Requirements for Law Students and Curriculum
To earn a specialization in Law and Philosophy, students must finish a course work requirement and a written work requirement in their second and third years as detailed below.
2022-2023 Tentative Law and Philosophy Class Schedule
Please view the tentative schedule of Law and Philosophy courses that may be offered during the 2022-23 academic year.
Courses Offered 2021-22 to Satisfy Specialization Requirements
Please view the list of courses being offered during the 2021-22 academic year which satisfy the Law and Philosophy J.D. specialization requirements.
Course Work Requirement
- Students must complete four qualifying courses (of at least two semester units each) with a grade of B or better in each course.
- At least two of the courses must come from the Core List. (These lists may be updated by the faculty affiliated with the Center as new courses are added.). Courses on the Core List will be frequently offered. They will usually be taught by members of the faculty who have special expertise in the area of Law and Philosophy, drawing on foundational materials and methodologies of the subject.
- The other two courses may come from the Core List from the Other Qualifying Courses List or students may petition the Faculty Director of the Program to have other relevant courses or independent studies counted toward the specialization.
- Courses from the Core List need not be taken before other qualifying courses. Coursework need not be complete before the student tackles the written work requirement.
Legal PhilosophyLAW 551
Philosophy of PunishmentLAW 555
Legal Theory WorkshopLAW 689
Future Law: Legal & Governance Responses to Transformative Societal Trends
Philosophy 166 - Philosophy of Law
(This course is not part of the standard Law School curriculum and hence not subject to priority enrollment. Interested students should contact the instructor in the fall to request enrollment and notify the faculty Director. Be aware that the course runs on the quarter system and starts in January term, running for 10 weeks.)
Other Qualifying Courses
Critical Race TheoryLAW 273
International Human Rights LawLAW 376
Law and DissentLAW 389
Prison Law and PolicyLAW 416
The Supreme Court of the United StatesLAW 543
UCLA Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public FinanceLAW 610
Political Theory of the FoundersLAW 616
Theories of International LawLAW 655
Feminist Legal TheoryLAW 668
The 8th Amendment Punishments ClauseLAW 682
Legal Ethics in PracticeLAW 682
Legal Ethics in Practice
Philosophy M257 - The Ethics and Politics of Communication
(Perspectives Courses may be counted toward the Law and Philosophy Specialization if the student undertakes to write a philosophically informed theoretical paper with the instructor’s approval; students may do this on their own or by adding an additional unit of independent study, assuming an appropriate work product. The Perspectives courses listed below are especially suitable for such purposes and specializers may gain priority enrollment to them.)
- Theory of Moral Sentiment - Bray and Zasloff
- Stranger to Ourselves - Greenberg
- The Dead Hand - Horwitz
Written Work Requirement
To earn the specialization, students must also complete a substantial research paper (20 to 35 pages) on a topic in law and philosophy with a grade of B+ or better.
To discuss the specialization, students may contact Faculty Director or the Law and Philosophy Program Manager.
For detailed information about the specialization including other courses and methods of fulfilling the specialization, please visit the Law and Philosophy Specialization page in MyLaw (login required).