Syllabus, Law and Society


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a broad overview of the law, including legal systems and processes, functions and dysfunctions, theoretical perspectives, law and social control, law and social change, and the legal profession.  We will cover in this course:  criminal law, constitutional law, international law, administrative law, and environmental law.  The law of the sea will be used as an illustration of international law and international environmental law.  


By the end of the term, each student who has successfully completed the course will be able to:

1)  identify and discuss current issues, debates, and findings in the field of law and society (exams, plea bargaining simulation, term paper)

2)  differentiate between legal and scientific thinking (exams on lectures)

3)  understand the difference between justice and due process (exams on lectures, plea bargaining simulation, term paper)

4)  assess the various influences on the law, such as politics, economics, norms, values, beliefs, and technology (exams on lectures and textbook)

5)  explain the legal system and its functions (exams on lectures and textbook)

6)  appreciate the complexity of criminal law, constitutional law, environmental law, and international law (exams on lectures and textbook)

7)  analyze the role of law in both continuity and social change (exams on lectures)

8)  work collaboratively with other students in the course (plea bargaining simulation)

9)  compare domestic criminal law with international law (exams on lectures)

The method of assessment of specific learning objectives is in parentheses at the end of each specific learning objective.


Online Lectures, and

Samaha, Joel.  2017.  Criminal LawWadsworth, Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA. Twelfth Edition.


Attendance and Participation.  You are expected to participate in all of the mock courtroom simulations.  You are also expected to attend all classes during the term.  Your participation grade will drop for each absence.

Weekly Quizzes.  There will be a weekly quiz on what you have learned from the reading materials assigned for each week. The quizzes will be open note, but closed book. You are able to use your handwritten lecture notes and handwritten notes from your textbook, in outline form, from the reading assignment. One quiz during the term will be increased to full points––either for one you missed or for the one with the lowest score.

Term Paper. Click this paragraph for details of the term paper. 

Incomplete.  I do not allow students to take an "Incomplete" for this course.  If you do not believe you will be able to finish the course, you should withdraw early to get any refund of your tuition that you are due. 

University Policy.  The University prohibits the use, possession, distribution, or sale of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, firearms, explosives, fireworks, and other dangerous substances on University property.

The above schedule and procedures, and the course outline and reading list are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.



Weekly Quizzes, 150 points

Attendance and Participation in mock trial simulation, 150 points

Term Paper, 50 points



A+  98% and up       B+  88-89%        C+  78-79%       D+  68-69%

A    94-97%             B    84-87%        C    74-77%       D    64-67%

A-  90-93%              B-  80-83%         C-   70-73%       D-   60-63%

© Karen Donahue 2017