UW School of Law has an increasingly robust catalog of undergraduate course offerings. Taught by law school faculty, these courses are designed to provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the law and its applicability in and impact on virtually every major field of study. Our classes are designed to be accessible, generally have no prerequisite courses and are open to students in all schools, departments and majors.
Dedicated Undergraduate Law Courses
The law school's portfolio of dedicated undergraduate law courses correspond to areas of interest and strengths of the University of Washington and its students.
The UW School of Law cornerstone undergraduate offering is the Introduction to American Law course, which is offered as a three credit lecture course with two accompanying two credit options, one for a freshman interest group (FIG) and the other, an Honors section. Offered in fall term, this course provides a strong foundation for our other law offerings as well as law-related offerings provided through political science, law, society and justice, and public affairs.
This course provides an introduction to fundamental concepts in the American legal system. It is designed to provide undergraduate students entering the University with an understanding of law and its relevance in government, industry and social order. The focus is on three aspects of the American legal system: the overarching structure of the American legal system and how laws are made; a survey of key doctrinal areas of the law in order to understand fundamental legal concepts; and how the law functions and evolves over time, including legal issues and decision-making related to statutory and/or common law.
The American Law in Historical Perspective course, offered in spring, provides students with a deeper look into the evolution of our legal system.
This course explores American legal institutions and concepts that have undergone dramatic change since the nation's founding. The course's premise is that important elements of today's legal system can be better understood by investigating their distinctive trajectories, juxtaposing what is familiar today with what it replaced. Topics include the allocation of power between juries and judges; criminal law and theories of punishment; liability for injurious behavior; law as a factor in economic development and economic organization; judicial selection; women as subjects and participants in the legal system; forms of economic and moral regulation; procedures for choosing judges; and the interplay of law as occupation and as academic discipline. Particular attention will be devoted to explanations of judicial behavior and to comparing law as text with law as implemented.
The law school's portfolio of dedicated law undergraduate courses correspond to areas of interest and strengths of the University of Washington and its students. The Land, American Culture and Law course speaks to the strong interests of our students in environmental regulation and indigenous rights.
This course offers an examination of North American attitudes towards land, nature, and natural resources, and the relationships between those attitudes and the creation of laws and public policies. This course will explore a number of topics, including ideas of ownership and political identity in relationship to land; the public policies and laws that give expression to those ideas; the set of moral, ecological and aesthetic imperatives that have developed to shape how land and nature are used; and the tensions between public and private good and individual and collective flourishing that are central to the history of land ownership and use in the United States. Readings from varied sources will focus attention on the ways that culture and ideals shape attitudes towards use and ownership of the natural environment and define relationships of human societies to the land.
The Law, Science and Technology course is aimed at science, technology, engineering and mathematics oriented students.
Law and science have been integrally related since the seventeenth century, although there are references dating back to ancient times. Scientific advances have frequently spurred law and law has often modified the progress of science. This survey course will consider how this linkage has developed, persisted and become ever more pivotal as technology and innovation have advanced. First the course will consider the role of science and technology in the courtroom, particularly in the context of criminal law and investigation. Second will be an exploration of the way that science influences law-making and regulation, including examples of how "bad science" may lead to enactment of laws that promote, rather that protect against injustice. This will include examination of the impact of science and law on individual rights, in the context of education, reproductive decision-making and determination of parenthood, and privacy. Finally, we will consider science from the global perspective and consider the global justice issues arising from disparities in access to innovation.
Students interested in global health, medicine and human rights are served by the Global Health and Justice course in the spring term.
The Global Health and Justice course explores health as a human right, focusing on injustices that occur around the world resulting in disease, disability and death. Using a justice framework, the course will consider social determinants of health and vulnerabilities that exist among populations and sub-populations, such as women, children, people with disabilities or HIV and the poor. Special attention will be given to low and middle income country health problems and struggles to attain healthy populations. Students will learn about the Millennium Development Goals, international human rights law and the pivotal role that law and legal infrastructure play in addressing injustices in health.
Students interested in legal reasoning are served by the Introduction to Common Law Legal Reasoning course in the spring term.
Introduction to Common Law Legal Reasoning provides a short, clear introduction to what it means to "think like a lawyer." After taking this class, students will be prepared to read and understand law school casebooks, participate in Socratic Method discussions in class, outline a law school class and take an "issue spotter" exam.
Other courses available to both undergraduate students and JD students
In addition to the dedicated undergraduate courses, the UW School of Law opens many of its offerings to undergraduates. Several law school offerings are designated as Honors College offerings. Many others accept undergraduates routinely or with instructor permission. These include, but are not limited to the following: