Peter A Allard School of Law

JD First Year Curriculum

The Allard School of Law curriculum positions the school and its graduates firmly in the 21st century, able to address contemporary global trends in law and society. Students are offered an innovative curriculum which equips them for the emerging challenges of the legal profession by offering an intellectually challenging curriculum paired with a solid foundation in legal principles.

Hallmarks of the  curriculum are an expansion of the range of subjects taught in first-year, less reliance on 100% final examinations, a diversification of evaluation methods designed to accommodate a broader range of learning styles, and smaller classes. First-year classes are taught in groups of approximately 45-50 students, allowing student to have more direct contact with instructors and more opportunities for detailed feedback. The new courses added to the first-year curriculum over the last few years are Indigenous Settler Legal Relations, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Introduction to Public Law and the Charter, Advocacy, and Legal Research & Writing.

  • Indigenous Settler Legal Relations builds on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, including the Calls to Action, and in particular Call to Action 28. In order to address and build on these imperatives, the Indigenous Settler Legal Relations course seeks to foster a decolonized understanding of law, legal institutions, and legal processes in Canada. 
  • Introduction to Public Law and the Charter provides an introduction to the structure, powers, duties of and relationships among the various institutions and actors that comprise the Canadian state, and an introduction to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 
  • Legal Research & Writing (LRW) provides an introduction to legal research and writing skills and the use of legal databases. Legal writing is critical to success and confidence in the practice of law, and so enhancements to the LRW program are a key element of the curriculum.
  • Aboriginal and Treaty Rights provides an overview of the unique constitutional status and rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
  • Advocacy provides an introduction to the principles of written and oral advocacy.

The first-year curriculum consists of the following compulsory courses:

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are full year courses. 

Indigenous Settler Legal Relations

This course builds on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, including the Calls to Action, and in particular Call to Action 28, which states:

We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

In order to address and build on these imperatives, this course seeks to foster a decolonized understanding of law, legal institutions, and legal processes in Canada. Throughout the course, students will engage with Indigenous perspectives on the proposed topics and critically examine the history and legacy of colonial legal orders that worked to suppress and erase Indigenous peoples. Understanding the multiple ways that law was used as a mechanism for dispossession, cultural suppression and population control is a key first step in reconciling Canada’s legal history. Students will be exposed to examples of Indigenous law in practice over time as well as the current resurgence of Indigenous law and will consider the context and rationale for Indigenous and colonial legal orders to exist in new relations to each other. Students will also study and reflect on possibilities for Indigenous and colonial legal orders to co-exist, and the legal and social dynamics that would facilitate these much-needed changes. LAW 200 (3)


Contract Law is about the common law doctrines that relate to the formation, operation and breach of commercial and consumer agreements between individuals. The course looks at the historical development and major substantive areas of the law of contract, including those that deal with: formation and enforceability; problems in the performance of contracts (conditions, warranties, misrepresentation, mistake, frustration); breach and remedies for breach; standard form consumer contracts; exclusion of liability clauses and unconscionability; public and social policy issues relating to contracts. LAW 211 (5)

Criminal Law & Procedure

This course examines the basic concepts and doctrines of the Criminal Law system. It covers various areas of substantive Criminal Law, including the bases of criminal responsibility and general and specific defenses available to an accused, as well as certain procedural and pre-trial issues. The focus is on Criminal Code offences, but various provincial offences may also be examined. Other issues that may be covered are the Charter, especially its impact on criminal procedure, and sentencing. LAW 221 (5)

Property Law

This course introduces the common law concept of property and explores its changing nature and application. It surveys various aspects of property including the acquisition and transfer of interests and the regulation of use. Specific topics include: the doctrines of tenure and of estates in land, the concept of possession, Aboriginal title, shared ownership, equitable interests, future interests, non-possessory interests, and title registration systems. The course provides a foundation for a broad array of upper year courses in the areas of commercial law, environmental and natural resource law, family law, Aboriginal peoples and the law, and intellectual property, as well as advanced courses in property law and the law of obligations. LAW 231 (5)


The law of Torts, or civil wrongs, deals with disputes between individuals that arise when the acts or omissions of one person cause injury or property loss, apart from breach of contract or unjust enrichment. The most important area in torts is negligence, which embraces unintentionally caused injury to the person, damage to property, and harm to economic interests. Other major areas of Tort Law are nuisance (unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of land), and intentional injuries whether to the person, property, or personal dignity and reputation. Analysis of Tort Law involves consideration of social values, deterrence, loss distribution and economic efficiency, as well as corporate and governmental responsibility. LAW 240 (5)

Introduction to Public Law and the Charter

This course introduces students to the institutions and key principles of Canadian public law before focusing in on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the work of courts in reviewing laws and government action for compliance with the Charter. Public law is concerned with the structure, powers, and duties of the various institutions and actors the comprise the Canadian state, as well as the relations among those bodies and individuals and groups in society. Questions of institutional legitimacy and legal accountability over the making of laws and the decision-making under those laws animate public law. The public law portion of the course will consider basic features of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the federal order of government; principles of statutory interpretation; and some key public law principles such as the Rule of Law, the separation of powers, and parliamentary and constitutional supremacy.

Students will learn about the entrenchment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 and how courts decide cases in which individuals or groups claim that a law or government action violates the Charter. We will focus on the framework of Charter analysis, including whether the Charter applies to a particular issue; the legal tests that determine the scope of particular Charter rights; how governments can justifify limiting rights; and remedies for successful Charter claims. We will develop our analysis through examining the analysis employed in key cases on issue such as hate speech, abortion, prisoner voting rights, medical assistance in dying, poverty and homelessness. We will also consider various perspectives on the possibilities and limitations of judicial review under the Charter. LAW 271 (3)

Legal Research & Writing

Legal Research and Writing will provide students with the ability to locate and update relevant case law, legislation and commentaries on specific topics. The course will provide students with confidence as they undertake research for course work, summer jobs or begin their articles, because they will have gained a substantial, usable set of research skills. This course will focus on practical research skills. Training will be provided on researching the law in British Columbia and Canada using both print and electronic resources. LAW 281 (2).

Aboriginal and Treaty Rights

This course examines the Aboriginal and treaty rights protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The nature and extent of this protection will be explored through the key s.35 judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. The extent to which this jurisprudence is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will also be explored. LAW 291 (2).


This course provides students with an opportunity to learn the basic principles of written and oral advocacy and to develop their skills as advocates. In doing so, it helps to prepare the many students who represent clients in the volunteer legal clinics. It also exposes students to mooting and to the opportunities in the upper-year mooting program as part of the Law School’s commitment to experiential learning. LAW 202 (2).


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