Our Department

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

We 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.


Our Programs

We offer four undergraduate BA programs, including a BA Honours program with concentrations in Human Rights & Transnational Law, Business Law, and Law, Policy and Government.

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 for the PhD in Legal Studies program.

Our Interdisciplinary Approach to Legal Studies

The Department of Law and Legal Studies reflects a movement away from traditional and more limited approaches to teaching and studying law. Until recently, the study of law was the near exclusive concern of professional law schools that combined programs with a vocational emphasis with a scholarly orientation limited to the study of technical legal doctrine and legal reasoning through exposition. However, many social scientists, historians, philosophers, and public policy analysts, among 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. Whereas  traditional approaches to studying law often view legal rules, institutions and procedures as having an internal logic of their own, our interdisciplinary approach to Legal Studies has transitioned from this tradition to foreground legal rules, institutions and procedures as being both formative for and reflective of social, cultural, political, and economic life.

The Capital Advantage

Our close proximity to a number of important institutions allows us to provide unrivalled resources for research and policy studies. These institutions include Canada’s 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. Find out more about studying at Carleton University and its Capital Advantage.

Our Faculty

Our faculty constitutes the country’s most comprehensive research and teaching resource for interdisciplinary legal inquiry.

The faculty is composed of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary teaching and research from a range of disciplines including communications, criminology, cultural studies, history, law, legal anthropology, political economy, political theory, 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. Read more about our faculty’s teaching awards and research grants.

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 Programs

Other Highlights

  • Quick Facts – 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