Legal Studies (LGST) 430

The Canadian Legal System (Revision 3)

LGST 430 Course website

Permanently closed, effective July 7, 2011.

View previous syllabus

Delivery Mode: Individualized study or individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies
(Business and Administrative Studies)

Prerequisite: None

Centre: Centre for State and Legal Studies

LGST 430 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Course website

Sample course pages (PDF)

Questions about this course? Contact the course professor: Archie Zariski.


Canada 's legal system provides the framework for the rules that govern many activities. It also provides a comprehensive system under which Canadians are given rights and incur obligations, and which allows them to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. This course examines the basic concepts, principles, and precedents on which Canada's legal system is based.

Legal Studies 430 should help you appreciate that Canadians live in a legally ordered society. The course also encourages you to examine and critically analyse Canadian legal institutions, processes, and some of the laws themselves, especially as these change over time. This course will encourage you to consider questions such as: Does our legal system follow changes occurring elsewhere in society? Is it an instrument for bringing about social change? Or, is our legal system some combination of these two descriptions?


The Canadian Legal System examines the following areas:

Module 1: What is Law?

  • Unit 1: Legal Theory: How Law Works in Canadian Society
  • Unit 2: Law as an Instrument of Social Change

Module 2: Sources and Divisions of Canadian Law

  • Unit 3: Rule of Law: Description and Role in Canada
  • Unit 4: Sources of Law: Brief History of the Canadian Legal System
  • Unit 5: Divisions of Law: Public Law and Private Law
  • Unit 6: The Role of Precedent in Common Law
  • Unit 7: Basic Rules of Statutory Interpretation

Module 3: Canada's Constitution

  • Unit 8: Canada's Constitution: Basic Information and Division of Powers
  • Unit 9: Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Unit 10: Human Rights in Canada

Module 4: Courts in Canada

  • Unit 11: The Structure of Canada's Courts
  • Unit 12: The Role of Judges, Judicial Independence, Judicial Immunity
  • Unit 13: The Role of Lawyers
  • Unit 14: Access to Justice

Module 5: Resolving Disputes Outside of Courts

  • Unit 15: Administrative Tribunals
  • Unit 16: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Module 6: New Directions and Future Trends in the Canadian Legal System

  • Unit 17: Critique


To receive credit for LGST 430, you must obtain a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent), and at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignments 1 to 4 (10% each) Assignment 5 Final Exam Total
40% 30% 30% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

The course materials include a student manual, study guide, assignments, and a reading file.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, October 17, 2008.

View previous syllabus

Updated January 21 2016 by Student & Academic Services