Master of Laws Course Descriptions

The Temple-Tsinghua Master of Laws program offers the following courses on a periodic basis. This is only a selective list. Please check the most recent course list to determine which courses are offered during any given semester. More information is available from the law school website and the program director during the general registration period.

Business Associations: This course examines the law of corporate entities, including the reason for their existence, their functioning in a market economy, and the legal rules that govern their existence. It focuses primarily on the corporation, exposing students to an artificial entity, to corporate governance and management, and to the problems that tend to arise in the ongoing life of a corporation. In that context, the students examine the various types of corporate entities that exist and different assumptions underlying their existence.

Civil Procedure: This course (often offered as an elective) provides an introduction to the civil adjudicative process, focusing primarily on the procedures used in the federal courts. Some of the topics covered in the course include personal and subject matter jurisdiction, notice pleading, due process requirements, dispositive motions, and various discovery procedures. Students will study the relevant Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal statutes, and several court opinions addressing the topics covered in class and will debate the benefits and problems caused by these procedures.

Constitutional Law: Judicial review of legislative and executive actions in a constitutional setting, the relationship of the states to the federal government (federalism), the relationship of the people to the government (fundamental rights and due process of law), and the powers of the legislative branch are considered in the context of the US Constitution.

Contract Law: This course provides students with in-depth knowledge of the fundamental principles of contract law. The core elements include formation and creation of the contract, contract terms, contract performance and excuse for nonperformance, breach of contract and remedies for breach, and third party rights. Practical matters such as the principle of party autonomy, legal effect of a contract, and enforcement of contractual rights are emphasized. The teaching methods rely heavily on case analysis.

Criminal Procedure: This course will explore the fundamental principles of U.S. criminal procedure, including right to counsel, search and seizure, interrogation, line-ups, and due process. The focus will be on those constitutionally-mandated principles that form the basis of American criminal procedure. Students will explore the ways that substantive and procedural due process in an adversary system shape the manner in which criminal laws are enforced as well as its impact on the relationship between government and individuals. The course will include discussion of whether stated criminal law objectives are accomplished and/or hindered by the particular procedures. 

Intellectual Property: This course will cover the broad outlines of the four major branches of intellectual property law: patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret law. The course will look generally at why (and how) intellectual property law differs from the law governing real property or tangible personal property, as well as at the special features of each of these sub-fields of intellectual property law. The course should provide a helpful overview of this area of the law for students who do not plan to specialize in intellectual property, as well as providing those who plan to go on to more detailed study of, and practice in, this area with an introductory exposure to the kinds of problems that are common to all intellectual property disciplines.

Intensive English Training: The four-week intensive Legal English program is offered at the beginning of the LLM Program each August. This curriculum is designed to enhance students' English language proficiency in a U.S. legal context and has been instrumental in enabling students with limited English-language experience to maximize their educational experience. This course is only open to students who are admitted to and enroll in the Program.

The curriculum is comprised of four courses:

American Legal System

This intensive course provides an overview of the US legal system as well as an introduction to cases and case analysis. At the end of this course, LLM students should be able to indentify the key actors and organizations within the US legal system, understanding their roles and jurisdictions. Students should also have grasped fundamental aspects to common law legal reasoning, gaining familiarity with paraphrase, synthesis, and summary. Moreover, students should have acquired reading skills to assist them in case reading assignments they will encounter later in the degree program.

Case Briefing

This class introduces students to a major source of law in the American legal system:  judicial opinions.  Students will learn how to read and interpret judicial opinions by creating case briefs, or summaries, for these opinions.  These case briefs will teach students how to identify an opinion’s key facts, procedural history, disputed legal issues, the court’s legal holding and its reasoning.  Through this process, students will be able to understand better the precedential law created by judicial opinions, which is a critical skill that will be used throughout their LLM coursework.

Law School Skills

This class will teach students critical skills that they can use to improve their study skills and succeed in their LLM classes.  Students will learn and practice several strategic study skills, including how to organize case briefs and class notes into a functional course outline, how to prepare for “issue spotter” final exams, how to form and benefit from effective study groups, and how to use internet research skills using online services such as Westlaw or Lexis/Nexis to help understand their classes.  

Legal English: Listening and Speaking

This course aims to help international students to improve their English language skills, as well as to provide them with an intensive introduction to legal vocabulary and concepts that will be important in their subsequent law school coursework. Attention is given to acquiring and practicing extensive legal English skills by exploring topics in various legal areas, including contract law, tort law, criminal law and other legal concepts in order to expand the students’ vocabulary and stimulate class discussions and debate.  In addition to participating in daily classroom discussions, students will be required to give short class presentations in English on different legal topics, as well as essay writing and various reading assignments. The main objective of the course is to build students' self-confidence in using English in their law school courses.

A note on the Legal English program: Students who work full-time in predominantly English-language environments and have high English language assessment exam scores may apply to be exempt from the intensive Legal English program. Students who are exempt must still attend the program orientation on the first day, consult with each of the Legal English faculty members to determine the homework required to complete during the term, and complete all homework assignments on time. Even if eligible to be exempt, students are strongly encouraged to attend the Case Briefing course so they will be properly equipped to attend the subsequent courses in the LLM program. Exempted students who do not take this Case Briefing course should be aware that there is a great likelihood that they may struggle in their later coursework.

International Business Transactions: This course is designed to give students an understanding of the variety of issues that lawyers acting for clients in international business transactions encounter in their daily work. The first section of the course focuses on the three principal contracts used in international documentary sales transactions: the sales contract, the bill of lading and the letter of credit. Particular attention is given to contract formation issues under private international law and the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. The course then considers the impact of global trade regulation on private business deals, with an emphasis on customs law as well as the basic principles and evolving case law of the WTO.

Legal Professionalism: This course is designed to give students personal exposure to the way rule of law operates in the American system. Students gain access to the crucial rule-of-law institutions of the civil and criminal legal system. Thereafter, facilitated discussion supports an understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between federal and state legal bodies, the role of the independent judiciary, and the comparative merits of the Chinese and American legal systems. In recent years students have observed case settlement in Federal Court, learned about the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure from a federal judge, observed a federal sentencing, watched misdemeanor cases in state court, witnessed civil arbitrations at the Arbitration Center, visited juvenile court, toured a Philadelphia prison, toured the Philadelphia Police Crime Lab, and sat in for appellate case arguments before Pennsylvania’s Superior Court. Students will have a chance to meet the judges, lawyers, and other rule-of-law officials and discuss with them the practical implications of what they have learned in the lectures.

Legal Reasoning: This course is an examination of the theory and operation of the main institutions of the American legal system. Techniques of case and statutory analysis are featured, along with the impact of social, economic, historical, and jurisprudential factors on the development of the law. The operation of the courts, legislatures, and administrative agencies are reviewed. The history of an actual lawsuit is followed from the initial visit by the client to the lawyer's office to the final decision by the state supreme court. The rule of law enforced by the courts through the review of administrative action is covered in detail.

Legal Research: This class focuses on identifying the sources of law in the common law system of the United States. The research exercises will expose students to both those law sources and the many compilations of the law with the goal of teaching students how to locate substantive and procedural rules in any common law jurisdiction.

Legal Research and Writing: This course teaches the basics of writing like a lawyer. Students learn basic legal research skills and the fundamentals of legal writing. Students will be taught how to do computerized legal research using the Westlaw database.

Property Law: This course introduces students to the basic concepts of private property rights and legal remedies that have evolved in the common law system to protect those rights. Present interests, future interests, concurrent interests, and security interests are discussed. Landlord and tenant laws, transfer of property interests, as well as the law of public domain and use of private property are included.

Torts: This course focuses on the basic concepts of civil liability between private parties, including intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. It also acquaints students with the potential role of courts in providing individuals who are injured with a means of redress against other individuals, business entities, and government officials. Some specific issues, such as tortious interference with contracts and product liability, are addressed. In addition, the course considers the theoretical basis of civil liability, including providing justice, spreading risk and cost, and deterring socially harmful behavior.

Trial Advocacy: This course enables students to explore and experience the significance of various advocacy choices. By enabling students to analyze the effects of lawyer involvement, we give them first-hand appreciation of, and practice in, the ways in which lawyer advocacy can affect the outcome of criminal cases. Students are taught the basics of case analysis, witness examination, and opening and closing argument. We also infuse issues of professional responsibility so that the students can learn both the ways in which professional responsibility issues affect lawyer choices, and we enable them to learn the importance of establishing and maintaining a code of professional behavior.