Law & Society

This stream analyzes how society and law shape each other, using lenses from historical, literary, political, and anthropological research.

Students will also have the opportunity to work with a community organization in the legal non-profit sector. For those interested in law, community work, and social justice, this stream is a good fit.

The law and society stream put legal principles into various contexts that were immensely absorbing. CAP has also given me a much clearer understanding of where my interests lie. Before entering the program, I thought I wanted to major in political science; upon leaving the program, I’ve decided to major in anthropology, which is a field I knew nothing about before coming to UBC.

Nick Johnston
intended major Anthropology


Courses: Term One

In the first term, students will enrol in CAP 100 (fulfills the academic writing requirement), Anthropology, and History. In CAP 100, you will be introduced to the research practices and features of academic writing at the university level. By looking at the political and anthropological background surrounding our society-at-large, you will examine the current relationship between law and society as well as learn about how it came to be.

This course provides an interdisciplinary foundation for academic writing and related research communicative practices within an interactive learning environment. Students will choose the section that best suits their scheduling needs and academic interests.

Cultural anthropologists are famous for their interest in a very broad range of subjects. This course will help students think like an anthropologist and discover strangeness in our familiar categories and familiarity in strange practices. To appreciate the genre of writing that defines anthropology as a discipline, throughout the term, students will be reading ethnographic accounts from around the globe to learn about anthropology’s central concepts, theories, and methods.

This course examines the development of international law in the last 250 years, and how it has structured global affairs. It looks at pivotal developments and the ways in which international law has come to be a defining force in world history. It also examines the resistance to international law and the ways in which international law has been minimized and in some cases defeated as a project of global order. Topics include the role of international law in imperialism; the development and then the abolition of slavery; the creation of international institutions like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court; the emergence of international humanitarian law, the role of law in war, and the emergence of crimes such as genocide.


Courses: Term Two

In the second term, students will transition from CAP 100 to CAP 101, and be introduced to the studies of Political Science and Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice. Students will acquire a new perspective of our laws and society by studying it through the lens of anthropological and feminist frameworks.

This course applies research and writing skills learned in CAP 100 to literary, cultural, and/or media analysis. The topics and readings integrate the stream focus on Law and Society. Students will stay with the same instructor and small group of students from CAP 100 and may develop projects started in that course.

The course examines the basic ideas on which the Canadian political system is founded, the institutions that structure politics, and the actors who work within these institutions. We will emphasize the constitutional framework of the Canadian government and the role of the judiciary and the Charter of Rights in shaping the country. We will also engage issues at the forefront of politics in Canada, such as Indigenous rights and gender politics. Students should be equipped to better understand the Canadian political system and engage in our democracy as active citizens and participants.

This course introduces students to social justice approaches from theoretical frames and academic discourses to the media and everyday life. We will consider: how might we open up conversations and dialogues about power including anti-racist and anti-colonial approaches, especially through social movements? What are some of the ways in which we can respectfully engage with marginalized communities and what this means in terms of allyship? As the recent global pandemic has exemplified, which we are all experiencing in different ways, the inequalities and inequities between countries, communities and individuals. We aim to learn more about social justice, social movements, and importantly resistance to broader systems of power from our own investments, stakes and positionalities. This course thinks with art, the media and interdisciplinary scholarship to open up perspectives and worldviews about social justice. Students will become familiar with key terms and concepts, such as power, privilege, oppression and intersectionality to explore marginalization, respectful engagement, hashtag activism, memes and more.


Sample Projects

CBEL Project: From Classroom to Courtroom
As part of the first year experience in the Law & Society stream, students participate in community-based experiential learning (CBEL) in the ASTU 100 class. This means that students have the opportunity to get out of the classroom and apply newfound disciplinary knowledge to a local community context.

Infographics to make research accessible
Students participate in a knowledge exchange project which involved translating scholarly research on the Downtown Eastside (DTES) into accessible infographics. Students choose academic articles to “translate” for DTES audiences via infographics. They receive direct feedback from research authors while they visualize research narratives for community audiences. This project introduces students to scholarship-as-conversation in a practical assignment that requires them to act as knowledge brokers within collaborative communities.


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