The thesis track takes place over one standard academic year, August through May. For thesis track students, 6 of the 21 units required to graduate are devoted to independent study units and represent the work they complete on their 50- to 60-page thesis. Students complete mandatory courses in Fundamentals of U.S. Law and Legal Research and Writing. With careful planning, students may focus their studies to earn a Certificate of Specialization and/or to meet the requirements to become eligible to sit for a Bar Exam. Due to the limited elective units in thesis track, students are unlikely to meet the requirements to both earn a Certificate of Specialization and satisfy coursework requirements to take a Bar Exam, though some students are eligible to sit for a Bar Exam without mandatory coursework.
1. Fundamentals of U.S. Law*
Students study the sources of U.S. law and the structure of the U.S. court system. Students also learn the fundamentals of the case method of legal education and statutory construction, and study how cases progress through the American court system. The course will also explore topics of judicial review, federalism, separation of powers, and the practical and political limitations of these concepts. Students will then use case analysis skills to examine landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases.
2. Legal Research & Writing
In this class, each student researches and writes a 15- to 20-page research memorandum addressing a compelling issue in contemporary law. Through this writing exercise students learn predictive legal reasoning. Students also complete other, shorter assignments throughout the term, including an introduction to Bluebook citation. Research instruction is integrated into the writing assignments, and includes mainly on-line but also a few traditional book-based resources. Students receive extensive written comments and attend one-on-one conferences on their papers.
3. Thesis Units
Thesis track students must also complete an original thesis in the form of a substantial research and writing project that is of publishable quality and roughly 50-60 double-spaced pages. The thesis paper is due by the last day of instruction in the spring semester, and requires six units of Thesis Track Independent Study completed in one of two ways: two units in the fall semester followed by four units in the spring semester, or six units taken during the spring semester. Thesis track students choose their own thesis advisor from the tenured or tenure-track faculty at the Law School (anyone with the title of either Professor of Law or Assistant Professor of Law); you can research our faculty through their profiles on the Berkeley Law website, and approach them for their availability once you are enrolled as a student.
*Required for foreign-trained LL.M. students. Domestic students are exempt from this course.
Visit Berkeley Law’s Schedule of Classes for a full and current listing of courses.