Our Department

The Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University is home to Canada’s premier Legal Studies program.

Loeb-Building-2We are Canada’s oldest and largest undergraduate program in Legal Studies. Emerging in 1967 as the first unit in the country to study law with multidisciplinary academic concerns in mind, the Department now offers a BA & BA (Honours) in Law to over 1500 students within the Faculty of Public Affairs and includes concentrations in Human Rights & Transnational Law, Business Law, and Law, Policy and Government among its undergraduate programs.

In 1991, Carleton also became the first University in the country to offer an MA in Legal Studies and, beginning in the Fall of 2011, we accepted our first cohort of PhD students.

Until recently the study of law was the near exclusive concern of professional law schools with programs that had a vocational emphasis and a scholarly orientation limited to the study of technical legal doctrine and legal reasoning through exposition. Yet social scientists, historians, philosophers, and public policy analysts as well as other scholars have developed an increasing interest in the study of the role and the potential of law and its administration in the context of social, economic and political structures. Legal Studies as a project integrates questions and methods drawn from a number of different disciplinary fields including feminist studies, history, philosophy, political theory and sociology. Utilizing techniques and insights from these and other intellectual traditions, legal studies focuses on the complex nature of the interaction between law and other social fields. This relational orientation of legal studies offers an alternative to the traditional viewpoint according to which legal rules, institutions and procedures develop according to their own autonomous internal logic without reference to other aspects of social, political, cultural and economic life.

Owing to the diversity of our approaches, a third of our full-time faculty have social science doctorates, another third hold doctorates in law, and another 10% have social science PhDs as well as LLMs. The Department’s faculty constitutes the country’s most comprehensive research and teaching resources for interdisciplinary legal inquiry. The faculty is composed of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary teaching and research from a range of disciplines including criminology, history, law, legal anthropology, political economy, political theory, mass communications and sociology. Included among our areas of teaching and research are Crime, Governance and Security; Globalization, International Law and Transnational Justice; Citizenship, Human Rights and Political Economy; Gender, Sexuality and Identity; Law, History, Culture and Humanities; and Conflict Resolution.

The Department of Law and Legal Studies is part of Carleton’s Faculty of Public Affairs, a group of academic units that deal directly with matters of importance to government and civil society. FPA offers its students a number of valuable opportunities, including:

  • International learning experiences
  • Carleton University Research Opportunity (CUROP) (undergraduate)
  • IPAF 4900 research mentorship opportunity (undergraduate)
  • Dean’s Honour List Reception (undergraduate)
  • FPA Ambassadors (undergraduate)
  • Emerging Perspectives: FPA Graduate Conference (graduate)
  • Events, including the FPA Research Series

Welcome to Canada’s leader in Legal Studies teaching and research.  We look forward to growing together.

Our History

Our Programs

The Capital Advantage

Our close proximity to a number of important institutions allows us to provide unrivalled resources for research and policy studies: Parliament, the Supreme Court, government departments concerned directly and indirectly with law, and the offices of many interest groups and social movements concerned with legal and social change. Additionally, Carleton has forged strong connections with Ottawa’s government sectors — creating scores of research and employment opportunities for our students.

Other Highlights

  • Did You Know? – 10 Things You Should Know About Our Department
  • Our Graduates – Find out what alumni are saying about our Department
  • In Memoriam – Learn more about the namesake behind a number of our special tributes