Legal Studies

Rider University's Legal Studies minor provides students with tools for reasoned appraisal of how the law works and its social consequences. Students learn about legal institution and policies, addressing and evaluating these in terms of evidence, rather than myths and assumptions.

Experienced faculty members are available to advise students interested in pursuing a career in law and law-related fields. Faculty advisors may assist students in course selection as well as law school or graduate school applications. Faculty members work with students to provide workshops on various aspects of career preparation as well as graduate school and law school preparation. 

Curriculum Overview

The minor is designed to provide students with a multidisciplinary understanding of law, its development and violation. Courses in the program include a wide spectrum of academic departments and programs, including business policy, baccalaureate honors, communication, economics, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology, as well as courses developed specifically for legal studies. 

The legal studies minor is designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of laws, legal institutions and processes and their relationships to social, moral, political and economic issues. Students will benefit from learning to approach law (both civil and criminal) and law enforcement from diverse perspectives. 

Students can focus their course of study around their specific career goals by selecting from a wide range of courses within the program. In addition, the legal studies minor an often be combines with other major and minor programs. 

Minor Offered

  • Minor in Legal Studies


Ira Sprotzer, J.D.
Associate Professor and Chairperson
Sweigart Hall 239

Program Website: Legal Studies

Associated Department: Department of Marketing, Sport Management and Legal Studies

Legal Studies Minor Requirements

(21 Credits) 

Category I: Choose at least 3 of the following:9
Honor Seminars:Law and Arts
Seminar: Theories of Justice and the American Common Law
Hon Sem: Guilty and Innocent
Intro to Law: Contracts
Commercial Law
Advanced Business Law
Social & Legal Environment Bus
Healthcare Law,Ethics & Polcy
Selected Topics Business Polcy
Communication Law
Constitutional History of U.S.
Intro Seminar in Law & Justice
Intro to Forensics
Law, Literature, and Film in America
Criminal Investigation
Crime & Justice in the Media
Women and Law
Trial Advocacy
Criminal Justice Practice
Conflict & Conflict Resolution
Cyberspace Law and Policy
Sports and the Law
The Rights of the Accused
Selected Topics in Law/Justice
Hate Crimes in the United States
Independent Research & Study
Internship in Law and Justice
Honors Thesis in Law & Justice
Philosophy of Law
Politics of Law and Order
U.S. Constitutional Law
Civil Liberties in the U.S.
Psychology and Law
Introduction to Criminal Justice: Police, Courts, Corrections
Drugs, Crime &American Society
Gender and Criminal Justice
Law and Lawyers
White Collar & Corporate Crime
Punishment and Corrections
Police and American Society
Policing and Counter Terrorism
Race and Crime
Category II: Choose a MAX of 2 of the following OR an additional 6 credits from Category I:6
Interpersonal Communication
Intercultural Communication
Communication Ethics
Argumentation and Debate
Intro to Labor Relations
Social Philosophy
Business Ethics
Power in American Politics
Contemp Issues Amer Pub Policy
The Judicial Process
Deviance and Crime
Youth and Crime
Power and Politics
Police and American Society
Policing and Counter Terrorism
Social Policy
Category III: Choose one of the following:3
Trial Advocacy
Criminal Justice Practice
Conflict & Conflict Resolution
Independent Research & Study 1
Internship in Law and Justice 1
Honors Thesis in Law & Justice 1
LAW 450Law & Justice Senior Seminar3
Total Credits21

 These courses may count toward Category III only with the permission of the Department Chairperson.

No LAW courses may be used more than once to fulfill minor requirements.

No more than 3 courses from the same department may be counted toward the minor.

Courses and Descriptions

BHP 209 Honor Seminars:Law and Arts 3 Credits

Fosters analysis of controversial art images from a range of genres (e.g., films, paintings, photographs, music, literature, and sculpture) and asks students to consider connections between the art and political/social/legal issues. Topics will include censorship, propaganda, and intellectual property.

BHP 211 Seminar: Theories of Justice and the American Common Law 3 Credits

Examines some of the ‘perennial’ theories of justice, both classical and modern, that have left their mark on the evolution of Western concepts of justice. The practical implications of such theories and the two-way traffic between them and social realities will be explored through their application by the American courts. In addition to studying actual cases, students will participate in the adjudication of theoretical cases, both fictional and taken from contemporary realities.

BHP 322 Honors Seminar: Guilty and Innocent 3 Credits

Through the study of social theory and research, legal cases, fiction, non-fiction, film and poetry, this course examines theories of criminal motivation and behavior, determination of blame, and assignment of appropriate punishment. Topics include changes in legal and cultural understandings of individual and social responsibility for criminality; the nature, purpose, and effects of punishment; and the impact of race, class and gender on defining crime and determining guilt or innocence.

BUS 210 Intro to Law: Contracts 3 Credits

An introduction to the origin of current law, with emphasis on the development of business law, students are exposed to legal terminology and acquainted with the system of application of rules of law to actual situations. The laws of contracts, particularly common-law developments, are considered in great detail.

BUS 211 Commercial Law 3 Credits

The law as related to the sale of goods, commercial paper, and secured transactions as promulgated by the Uniform Commercial Code is considered in depth. Warranties, guarantees, remedies, and product liability are explored. The laws of bankruptcy and insurance are also considered.

Prerequisite(s): BUS 210.

BUS 214 Advanced Business Law 3 Credits

This course provides students with an introduction to the fundamentals of individual and organizational forms of doing business. The laws governing agency, partnerships, corporations, and the purchase and sale of securities will be explored. The legal consequences of the relationships, and the rights and duties of the parties and entities will be discussed, as will the rules of law governing real, personal, and intellectual property, including the transfer of title to real property, the various types of bailments, the landlord-tenant relationship, and the laws concerning wills, trusts, and estates. The concerns of businesses that compete in the global environment through the study of international law will also be discussed. This course replaces the property (BUS 213) and business associations (BUS 212) courses; you may not take this course if you have taken either of these courses.

Prerequisite(s): BUS 210.

BUS 300 The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business 3 Credits

The strategies by which organizations in the private as well as the public sectors interact with, adapt to, and attempt to influence their external environments are explored. The primary emphasis is on evaluating the effect of business and governmental decisions on the quality of life. The role of regulatory agencies and the impact of local and national legislation on organizational behavior are considered.

Prerequisite(s): 54 credits.

BUS 315 Health Care Law, Ethics & Policy 3 Credits

This course analyzes the role of the law in promoting the quality of health care, organizing the delivery of health care, assuring adequate access to health care, and protecting the rights of those who are provided care within the health care system. It will also examine the public policy, economic, and ethical issues raised by the health care system.

Prerequisite(s): 24 credits.

BUS 444 Selected Topics Business Polcy 3 Credits

The study of a selected topic of contemporary interest related to one or more of the following: strategic management, business law, business ethics, social responsibility, legal environment of business. Readings, research, lectures, discussions, and other methods will be used.

Prerequisite(s): to be determined by instructor.

COM 251 Interpersonal Communication 3 Credits

Focuses on the study of various communication concepts and theories and the development of interpersonal skills and sensitivities. More specifically, students will participate in lectures, exercises, and projects while exploring the role and function of relationships in their professional, social, and personal lives.

COM 252 Intercultural Communication 1.5-3 Credits

Develops intercultural communication competence through an awareness and understanding of diverse cultures and their impact on communication. It will introduce students to those general factors that influence communication with people from diverse cultures both internationally and within the United States, and offer a blend of skill development, communication theory, and hands-on application. Note: This course is crosslisted as GLS 252. Students may not get credit for both COM 252 and GLS 252.

COM 301 Communication Law 3 Credits

Critically examines the legal limits and privileges affecting freedom of expression, especially in publishing, advertising, film, telecasting, and cyberspace. Places particular emphasis on the historical and philosophical foundations of the freedoms and limitations of communication in the United States.

COM 302 Communication Ethics 3 Credits

Analyzes internal and external pressures on the communication professional including economic, cultural, social, and political pressures, assesses the philosophical and practical basis for responding to such pressures, evaluates contemporary media responses to these pressures, identifies those that are of laudable quality and why, and provides guidance as to how individuals and organizations can think and react ethically. Issues addressed include censorship, confidentiality, conflicts of interests, minority and ethnic groups, privacy, sensationalism, and self-criticism.

COM 322 Argumentation and Debate 3 Credits

Investigates the theory and practice of speech communication that seeks to persuade by inferential argumentation. Concentrates on theories, practices, and research in argumentation and debate, blended with speaking experience in analyzing and advocating controversial topics.

Prerequisite(s): COM 104 or COM 290.

HIS 301 Constitutional History of U.S. 3 Credits

Surveys the English, Colonial, and Confederation backgrounds of American law and constitutionalism; the framing, adoption, and implementation of the Federal Constitution and its later development; the role of law in the nation’s history; the changing interpretations of federalism; the growth of judicial review; and the increasing role of the Supreme Court.

HRM 312 Intro to Labor Relations 3 Credits

This course deals with the relationship of labor unions and management, the fundamentals of collective bargaining, and labor legislation. The structure and growth of unions as well as the relationships and problems that exist among private and public sector organizations, the labor force, and government are surveyed.

Prerequisite(s): MGT 310 or permission of instructor.

LAW 140 Intro Seminar in Law & Justice 3 Credits

Introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of law and justice. The seminar is designed to enable students to think critically about legal issues, address legal problems from various viewpoints, and apply different types of theories of justice to analyze laws and legal institutions. Students will learn to examine law and legal issues from a variety of perspectives and approaches: anthropological, historical, literary, philosophical, political, psychological, and sociological. Open to freshmen and sophomores only.

LAW 150 Introduction to Forensics 3 Credits

Introduces students to principles of forensic science. Whether the issue is establishing paternity or cause of death, determining arson or liability, or deciding criminal guilt or innocence, collecting and evaluating forensic material is typically involved. Students will learn the meaning and significance of scientific evidence and its role in criminal investigations and civil and criminal trials. Students will learn how forensic scientists work, define a problem, collect data, and analyze results. Case studies, crime simulations and examination of criminal evidence will highlight the application of scientific principles.

LAW 204 Law, Literature, and Film in America 3 Credits

Focuses in an interdisciplinary manner on law and justice as represented in American literature and films. It analyzes novels, short stories, and selected non-fiction texts from the perspectives of literary criticism, social history, and cultural and American studies.

LAW 210 Criminal Investigation 3 Credits

Approaches criminal investigation conceptually. Students consider the social issues involved in criminal investigation, as well as ethical and legal aspects of it. The course covers such topics such as the principles of criminal investigations, the rules and procedures of preliminary and follow-up investigations, the art of interrogation, recording of statements, confessions, and the collection and preservation of physical evidence at the crime scene. Emphasis is placed on the need for meticulous adherence to rules of law and ethical practices, as an investigation proceeds from initial actions to arrest, and eventual prosecution. The course also examines the methods used in scientific interpretation of evidence and the preparation of criminal cases for trials, as well as its role in today’s criminal justice system.

Prerequisite(s): LAW 150.

LAW 302 Crime & Justice in the Media 3 Credits

This course focuses on the impact of media on Americans’ perceptions and understanding of the extent and causes of crime, and the effectiveness and purposes of crime policy. It examines how criminals, types of crime, crime policies and the criminal justice system are portrayed in various media outlets, including film, tv, newspaper, and electronic/internet. It explores the historical and contemporary relationships between media representations of criminal behavior, crime as a social problem, and the nature of the criminal justice system and contrasts these to their social realities.

LAW 304 Women and Law 3 Credits

Explores the social, economic, political and cultural context of laws relating to women and gender, such as workplace discrimination, divorce and child custody and reproductive rights. It examines how such laws have changed historically and the impact such laws have had on women as well as on men and on American social institutions, such as the family, politics, and the workplace. The course also examines women in the legal profession and their impact on the practice of law and legal reasoning.

LAW 305 Trial Advocacy 3 Credits

Students will apply fundamental legal concepts and rules of evidence to specific cases. By engaging in trial simulations, students will evaluate various forms of evidence, identify legal principles and evidentiary rules that impact a criminal trial, learn about trial procedures, pursuit of case theories, and witness, exhibit and jury selection.

LAW 307 Criminal Justice Practice 3 Credits

This course will consider the ways criminal justice agencies and occupations are shaped by social, economic, political, technological and legal changes. Through case studies and projects students will examine the work, culture, and work settings of various criminal justice practitioners, assess the impact of social policies on criminal justice careers, and identify new directions in the field. Students will develop the reading and writing skills needed by an array of criminal justice practitioners.

LAW 308 Conflict & Conflict Resolution 3 Credits

Focuses on understanding the meaning of conflict and strategies for its resolution. The course examines the ways conflict functions in various social contexts including professional, community, family, education, and international relations. Traditional models of adjudication will be compared to alternative forms of dispute resolution. Students will be introduced to research on the practice and effectiveness of various forms of conflict and conflict resolution. Students will participate in various class exercises, including role-plays, simulations, and case studies.

LAW 310 Cyberspace Law and Policy 3 Credits

Explores the legal and policy concerns raised by the Internet, nationally and globally. The course considers issues of legal regulation of the Internet, and consider the debate about whether cyberspace can or should be regulated. Attention will be given to the applicability of principles of law and models of regulation. Topics addressed will include jurisdiction, freedom of expression, intellectual property, privacy protection, safety concerns, equal access, electronic commerce, and computer crime.

LAW 355 Sports and the Law 3 Credits

Examines the legal, ethical, economic, social and managerial issues related to sports. Topics include liability issues, contracts, employment discrimination, antitrust law, and constitutional law. Note: This course is cross-listed as SPT 355. Students may not get credit for both LAW 355 and SPT 355.

LAW 365 The Rights of the Accused 3 Credits

Analyzes the major substantive and procedural rights accorded to the criminally accused by the United States Constitution. Particular attention will be given to the right to counsel, confessions and self-incrimination, arrest, search and seizure. Students will learn to argue and write hypothetical case opinions.

LAW 395 Selected Topics in Law/Justice 3 Credits

Studies specialized areas of scholarship related to laws, legal institutions, legal or law- related occupations, and/or legal decision making. The course will provide an interdisciplinary examination of a selected topic. Topics vary and are listed in the course roster.

LAW 401 Hate Crimes in the United States 3 Credits

Provides an interdisciplinary exploration of hate crimes in the United States, its causes and consequences. It will examine the social, political, and legal issues that have shaped policies and laws designed to respond to hate crimes and assess their effectiveness. Debates about the nature of hate crimes and the special laws and sentencing provisions developed to deal with them will be discussed. Topics include hate crimes on college campuses, hate on the Internet, legal and constitutional issues, and criminal justice enforcement.

LAW 450 Law & Justice Senior Seminar 3 Credits

Draws on and develops students’ knowledge and understanding of law and legal institutions and applies it to a specific legal topic, method, institution, or controversy. Topics will vary. Students explore the social, political, ethical, and economic issues relevant to the topic. Students will be expected to contribute to seminar discussions and to complete projects related to the seminar theme. Required for seniors in law and justice minor and open to others by permission of the Director of the Law and Justice Program.

LAW 490 Independent Research & Study 1-4 Credits

Independent Research and Study allows juniors and seniors in good academic standing to investigate topics of interest under faculty supervision. Projects must be approved by the faculty member, department chairperson, and academic dean no later than the third week of the semester in which the project is to be conducted. Only one project can be scheduled in a semester, and for no more than four semester hours; up to 12 semester hours of independent research and study may be counted toward graduation. Note that individual departments may have additional restrictions.

LAW 491 Internship in Law and Justice 1-4 Credits

Provides supervised work experience in an institution, office, or agency related to law or law enforcement, such as courts, prosecutor/defense attorney offices, private law offices, state agencies, and local police departments. Students are expected to apply and broaden the knowledge obtained from law and justice minor courses to their fieldwork experience.

Prerequisite(s): 2.75 GPA and permission of the Director of the Law and Justice program.

LAW 496 Honors Thesis in Law & Justice 3-6 Credits

Entails substantial research and writing on a topic selected by the student. Proposals must be reviewed and approved by the law and justice program committee. Proposals must be submitted at least four weeks prior to course registration.

Prerequisite(s): Seniors in the minor with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a 3.25 GPA in law and justice minor courses.

PHL 115 Ethics 3 Credits

A combined historical and systematic analysis of the problems of ethics. Such problems as the nature and meaning of moral values and judgments, moral responsibility and freedom, conscience and happiness, the good life, and the relativity of value, are explored through the writings of such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Mill, and Nietzsche.

PHL 202 Social Philosophy 3 Credits

Emphasizes social ethics through critical studies of such contemporary problems as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, pornography and censorship, animal rights, drug use, sexual morality, environmental ethics, and world hunger.

PHL 203 Business Ethics 3 Credits

Surveys and examines ethical problems concerning the institutions and practices of contemporary business. Problems considered include: the conflicts of economic freedom and social responsibility; the relation of profits to work and alienation; the responsibilities of business to employees, minorities, consumers and the environment; the role of truthfulness in business practices; and the ethics of self-fulfillment and career ambitions. Readings selected from works of contemporary and historical philosophers, social theorists, and business people.

PHL 303 Philosophy of Law 3 Credits

An examination and analysis of selected topics including classical and contemporary theories in the philosophy of law and moral philosophy. Such topics as the nature of the law and legal reasoning, the legal enforcement of morality, protection of personal liberty, and the moral justification of punishment are considered. Such philosophers as Aquinas, Austin, Holmes, Bentham, Hart, and Dworkin are read and discussed.

POL 260 Politics of Law and Order 3 Credits

The constitutional, legal, political, and administrative aspects of the criminal justice system in the United States are studied, including the court system at all levels of government, law enforcement agencies, correctional programs and institutions, probation, parole, and the relationship of our legal institutions to the broader political system.

POL 300 U.S. Constitutional Law 3 Credits

The role of the Supreme Court in the American political system is assessed. Topics include the staffing and functioning of the Supreme Court and the federal judicial bureaucracy, the origins and development of judicial review, and the role of the Supreme Court in national policy-making. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 300. Students may not get credit for both HLS 300 and POL 300.

POL 301 Civil Liberties in the U.S. 3 Credits

The American doctrine of civil liberties in theory and practice. Emphasis on analyzing the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and religion, the right of privacy, and the problem of discrimination in the context of contemporary issues and problems. Particular attention to the role of the Supreme Court in this area. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 301. Students may not get credit for both HLS 301 and POL 301.

POL 326 Power in American Politics 3 Credits

Examines various explanations of who has power in American politics. Explores the roles of appointed and elected officials, business and interest groups, the media, and the general public in shaping public policy. Special attention to political change, including the impact of broad social movements on the responsiveness of the political system.

POL 327 Contemporary Issues in American Public Policy 3 Credits

An in-depth examination of current issues in American politics. Drunk driving, political corruption, drug policy, education, and poverty are among the issues to be considered. Emphasis on analyzing policy problems and on developing and evaluating proposed solutions.

POL 361 Courts, Judges and Politics 3 Credits

In-depth examination of the nature of judicial decision-making and the impact that judicial decisions have on society. Considers the sources of judicial authority, judicial fact-finding, statutory and constitutional interpretation, individual and collective processes of judicial decision-making, relations between judges and other government officials, and the political consequences of judicial decisions with particular emphasis on federal courts and judges. Note: This course is cross-listed as HLS 361. Students may not get credit for both POL 361 and HLS 361.

PSY 279 Psychology and Law 3 Credits

Introduces students to a study of selected topics in psychology and law. Topics include eyewitness testimony, jury selection, and decision making

Prerequisite(s): PSY 100.

SOC 206 Deviance and Crime 3 Credits

Considers deviant behavior as violation of social norms. Examines the concepts of deviance and crime in socio-historical context. Evaluates major theories advanced to explain deviance. Surveys different types of deviance, including conventional crime, non-criminal deviant behavior, and white-collar corporate, and government crime.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 216 Youth and Crime 3 Credits

In-depth examination of the nature and extent of youth criminality in the U.S. Explores changes in youth culture and theories of delinquency. Social policies are related to youth criminality and the youth justice system is considered.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 219 Introduction to Criminal Justice: Police, Courts, Corrections 3 Credits

This course introduces students to the sociological study of the criminal justice system. It examines the cultural and social foundations of this system, and review debates about problems with the criminal justice system and proposals to change it. Topics covered include nature of the crime problem, requirements of criminal law, policing, the role of the courts and legal professionals, sentencing, incarceration and alternatives to it. [FORMERLY SOC-319 Criminal Justice and Corrections] Pre-requisite SOC 101 3 Credit hours.

SOC 246 Drugs, Crime &American Society 3 Credits

Explores the nature and extent of drug use in the U.S., how drugs are legally defined and socially constructed, and considers how and why drug policies have developed and changed historically. Considers how the criminalization of drugs has impacted policing strategies, courts, probation programs, sentencing and corrections, as well as other social institutions. Examines the role of local and federal agencies in enforcing drug laws, and considers debates about directions for legal reforms.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 313 Gender and Criminal Justice 3 Credits

This course will examine women’s experiences with the criminal justice system as offenders, victims, prisoners, and practitioners. It will consider how gender has shaped theories of crime and criminological research. It will explore how cultural constructions of gender have influenced substantive and procedural criminal law, the ways criminal justice agencies respond to crime, and how these have changed historically. Attention will be given to the development of new approaches, reforms, and challenges.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 317 Law and Lawyers 3 Credits

Relationships between law, the economy, and the state are explored. Discussion of laws, legal systems and legal reasoning using cross-cultural comparisons and historical analysis of these in the United States. Particular attention given to impact of law on corporations, workers, women, and minorities. Changes in legal profession and legal education are examined.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 321 White Collar & Corporate Crime 3 Credits

SOC 322 Punishment and Corrections 3 Credits

This course explores the nature, forms, rationales, and effectiveness of punishment as a form of crime control. It traces the development of corrections in the U.S., identifies cultural trends and developments in penology, including mass incarceration and supermax prisons, considers the ways race and class have shaped these, and the reverberating effects penal policies have had on American culture and society beyond the criminal justice system. It examines the role of laws, politics, crime control agencies, as well as of media, and corporations in shaping penal policies. Topics also include: prison subcultures, inmate rights, correctional practices, privatization of prisons, and alternatives to punitive policies of incarceration and capital punishment.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 340 Power and Politics 3 Credits

Examines the nature and distribution of power in contemporary societies; analyzes the relationships between power and politics.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 342 Police and American Society 3 Credits

This course examines important issues regarding police in American society, such as the paradoxes inherent in police work, police organization and strategies and their effectiveness, the dilemmas of supervising police work, police unionism, the nature and implications of police occupational subculture, the use of police discretion, forms of police misconduct and accountability, professionalization of police and the trend toward police privatization. It also considers the diversity of the police force, trends in the delivery of policing services, the impact of new technologies on policing, and the challenges of policing in a multicultural society.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 343 Policing and Counter Terrorism 3 Credits

This course is designed as an upper level (undergraduate/graduate) combination lecture and discussion section on the foundations of international security. It will examine the concept of security from both the macro and micro level. We will discuss a mix of security strategies (balance of power, alliances, rearmament, collective security, deterrence), theoretical perspectives on security (Neorealism, Neoliberalism, Critical Theory, Copenhagen School), great power and third world security, democratic and non-democratic security, classic threats (changes in relative power, proliferation) and new threats (environment, population movements, terrorism), and concepts of security ranging from state survival, to societal security, to unit level-variables such as Human Security.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 345 Race and Crime 3 Credits

Examines the impact of crime policy on minority communities in the United States, with particular attention to the impact of “The War on Drugs”, three-strike laws, and mandatory sentencing on minorities and minority communities. Drawing on sociological research, the course explores myths and realities concerning the relationship between race and crime. The relationship between racial attitudes, historical race relations, and mass incarceration are discussed.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.

SOC 350 Social Policy 3 Credits

Investigates the relationship between economic development and social policy in comparative and historical context. The main features of preindustrial, early industrial, and advanced industrial social welfare systems are described. Social, economic and political factors that shape social policy are investigated.

Prerequisite(s): SOC 101.