No. You can be a student at any of the other colleges on the St. George campus and still take the program. Generally, fewer than 20% of the ES&L cohort are Trinity College students.
Since 1988, ES&L has served as a significant part of an undergraduate degree in preparation for further studies or careers in such fields as the law, public policy, philosophy, political science, and criminology.
ES&L allows undergraduates to explore issues in ethics, society and law, and to do so by means of an explicitly interdisciplinary approach in a small and intimate program with excellent colleagues. We are based at Trinity College.
Many of the issues at the intersection of ethics, society and law that we study are crucial contemporary issues. Students are required to cover core areas in each stream, but are also allowed to select their own areas of focus from many optional courses.
Each year, a number of students choose ES&L in order to explore the study of the law and see if they are genuinely interested in law school as a post-graduate option.
Majors most commonly doubled with ES&L include Political Science, Philosophy and Criminology. And there are many other double-major, etc., possibilities.
Right, ES&L is not designed for “pre-law” students in particular. However, many of the students in ES&L do go on to law schools.
ES&L receives more than 500 program enrollment requests for 75 openings annually. The program invites applicants to fill the openings, starting with applicants with the highest overall averages in the required 3 FCEs categorized as BR=2 and/or BR=3, and moves down the list until the openings are filled. This occurs over the two request rounds each summer, with about 85% of the openings filled in round one, and about 15% filled in round two. Although the average of the last applicant invited cannot be predicted with precision (as it depends on the number of applications and their relevant averages, which can change year to year), in recent years, the last applicant invited has had a relevant average between 80% and 83%.
Achieving the threshold average in the relevant courses does not ensure invitation to the program, as is stated in the ES&L entry in the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar.
Students who are not successful in their first request are certainly welcome to apply in subsequent rounds or years, and in the interim to take courses (that are not restricted to ES&L students) that count in the program. Such students may also want to consider requesting minors in Philosophy or Political Science, for example, to get priority in (and to take) POL and PHL courses that count in the program.
The program is very popular and competitive. Each interested student should assess carefully the likelihood of achieving a competitive average in the courses required for entry; if there are concerns about achieving the average, a “plan B” would be a good idea.
The online Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar stipulates the relevant base requirements.
Yes. For example, if you take PHL 273H (Environmental Ethics) before enrolling in the program, you can count it as a program credit.
You may use the course to satisfy requirements in both programs provided that your programs (two majors or one major and two minors) include at least twelve different courses (FCEs). Please consult the Degree Requirements section of the Faculty of Arts & Science Calendar and your College Registrar for further information on double-counting courses.
Many optional upper-year courses in the program have prerequisites determined by their home units, and many of these prerequisites are not ES&L courses. Thus, students need to plan ahead and make sure their program of study fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the courses they wish to take in upper years.
Although the ES&L program does not have any 100-level requirements, there are optional upper-year courses in the program that have 100-level prerequisites. You need to make yourself aware of these prerequisites and plan accordingly.
Yes. First, the chief benefits of being in such a program are flexibility and inter-disciplinarity. The options available to you have been drawn from many units in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T.
Second, this means that many of the courses do not give priority to ES&L students. Thus you need to plan ahead carefully, and enroll in courses as soon as your enrollment period is open. It would also be advisable to have alternative selections in mind when enrolling. Students may want to consider requesting minors in Philosophy or Political Science, for example, to get priority in (and to take) POL and PHL courses that count in the program.
With the permission of the Director of the ES&L program, you may substitute courses not listed in the program for a maximum of two of the program’s optional courses (FCEs). There are some 80 optional courses listed in ES&L. Unless you have a relevant timetable conflict or some other special circumstance to justify a substitute, we do not normally grant substitution credits.
If such circumstances are the case, please send the program assistant (1) a very brief email note clearly explaining the justification for the substitution credit, as well as the following information: (2a) the full calendar course description (with web address/link), (2b) the departmental description for the course (if any, and web address/link), and (2c) the course website and description for the course (if any). Potential substitution credits should have official calendar descriptions that indicate content directly relevant to the study of ethics, society or law. Permission will be based on whether or not, in the program’s judgment, the course(s) would be suitable for inclusion in the major.
You can contact the ES&L Program Office – email email@example.com.
This would normally mean you would not be eligible to take the course. If, however, you think you have equivalent preparation, you should speak with the instructor.
TRN203H1 Society: Limits and Possibilities is one of ES&L’s core required courses. Typically, it is the first course taken in the program, and the entire incoming class of about 75 students takes it together in the fall term (Sep. to Dec.). There is a 2-hour lecture (for the whole class) and a 1-hour tutorial (for each of the 3 groups of about 25 students) each week. Thus, the course is an excellent opportunity for ES&L students to get know each other in their first year of the program. In addition, the course provides a foundation in key texts that have articulated fundamental features of modern social and political reality, including capitalism, socialism, bureaucracy, media, identity politics, consent, colonial exploitation and the post-colonial world. If today some aim to overcome the status quo while others resist change, they all do so in terms of social and political foundations. The task is to understand the evolving foundations that have made us who we have become.
TRN204H1 Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning is one of ES&L’s core required courses. Typically, it is the second course taken in the program, and the entire incoming class of about 75 students takes it together in the winter term (Jan. to Apr.). There is a 2-hour lecture (for the whole class) and a 1-hour tutorial (for each of the 3 groups of about 25 students) each week. Thus, the course is an excellent opportunity for ES&L students to continue to get know each other in their first year of the program. In addition, the course introduces students to the study of law and legal reasoning through an examination of the participants, institutions and processes involved in law-making and law-administering. Case law examples from various fields of law (including tort, criminal, constitutional) are used to explore some of the themes of the course. Students examine the organization of the Canadian legal system as well as critically engage with some of the more challenging issues facing both the criminal and civil justice system including as well international law.
TRN303H1 Ethics and Society is one of ES&L’s core required courses. The course is run as a seminar-style course, typically with fewer than 25 students and featuring class discussion at least as much as lecture. In addition to its focus on the intersection of ethics and society, TRN303H1 includes two other important elements:
TRN304Y1 Law and Social Issues is one of ES&L’s core optional courses. Its focus on the intersection of law and society is developed through the discussion of legal practice in various areas of social justice. The course is taught by leading legal practitioners in social justice. The goal is to expose students directly to work in the law that has social impact. Each instructor leads about 5 weeks in their area of expertise. We discuss both legal issues of social significance, and how the instructors—as practitioners in various areas of legal work, such as at NGOs, Legal Clinics, and firms—approach important issues. Issues might include: justice and access advocacy, Gladue principles, eviction, rent-control, racial profiling, the bail crisis, prison reform and police records, among others. The course is run as a seminar-style course, typically with fewer than 30 students and featuring class discussion at least as much as lecture.
TRN305Y1 Basic Principles of Law is one of ES&L’s core optional courses. It discusses issues such as how courts determine if the limitation of a Charter right is justifiable. Should the background and social circumstances of a defendant mitigate a sentencing decision? What is the difference between an intentional and a negligent tort? When is a promise legally enforceable? Basic Principles of Law introduces students to the doctrines, concepts, and cases that advance answers to these, and many more, questions. The course is structured around four areas of Canadian law—constitutional law, criminal law, tort law, and contract law—that form the core of a first-year law school curriculum. Students will debate contemporary legal issues and foundational questions, critique court decisions, and begin building their capacity to serve as legal problem solvers. The course is run as a seminar-style course, typically with fewer than 30 students and featuring class discussion as well as lecture.
TRN312H1 Sustainability Issues in Ethics, Society, and Law is one of ES&L’s core required courses. Typically, it is taken in the second year in the program, and the entire class of about 75 students takes it together in the winter term (Jan. to Apr.). There is a 2-hour lecture (for the whole class) and a 1-hour tutorial (for each of the 3 groups of about 25 students) each week. Thus, the course is an excellent opportunity for ES&L students to continue to work together in their second year of the program. The focus of the course is sustainability at the intersection of ethics, society and law. Sustainability is probably the most ambiguous and misused term of our time. Yet it connotes ideas that have the potential to fundamentally reshape a healthier future for the planet. Students deconstruct systemic issues of sustained development that perpetuate environmental degradation and social inequity, and re-imagine a new lens for sustaining balanced environmental, social, economic and cultural integrity. Public guest lectures are often environmental justice professionals who are simultaneously successful at shaping a truly sustainable future while maintaining a career. A communications project engages students’ creativity to translate legal and political jargon into something engaging and motivating for public audiences.
TRN407Y Community Research Partnerships in Ethics (CRPE) is a community engagement and research course for selected senior students in the ES&L program. Under individual faculty supervision, and in partnership with a community organization, each of about 15-20 students undertakes a year-long research project designed to meet knowledge needs of a community organization.
During the summer, senior ES&L majors with strong cGPAs are invited to join the Community Research Partnerships in Ethics (CRPE) course. The course is challenging and the number of projects is limited. The course is administered either by the Director or Associate Director of the ES&L program, or a designated CRPE Project Coordinator.
Its role is to integrate the program by examining selected topics and readings related to the themes of ethics, society and law in the format of a senior seminar. The course is restricted to students in their final year of registration in the program. The course is run as a seminar-style course, typically with fewer than 25 students and featuring class discussion at least as much as lecture.
TRN412H1 requires a major research paper in which students conduct an inquiry into a selected social issue with ethical and legal aspects. The inquiry is expected to be integrative in at least two ways: it must integrate material covered in the seminar with the student’s research on the chosen topic, and it must integrate material from each of the program’s general thematic categories (“ethics,” “society,” and “law”).
The inquiry is expected to involve “the (independent) framing and investigation of nontrivial questions,” and it is desirable (but not necessary) to require group activity allowing students “to interact with one another in a way that facilitates discussion of their investigations” (Degree Objectives Guidelines).
TRN425Y (Law Workshops): During the summer, senior ES&L majors with strong cGPAs are invited to join the Law Workshops course. The course is challenging and seating is limited. Students are introduced to fundamental approaches to the study and interpretation of law – such as positivist/natural law traditions, critical race, feminist, Indigenous, and law & economics, among other perspectives. In addition, the students attend workshops and/or lectures within the Faculty of Law in which they are able to see these various approaches in action. The students also participate in in-class case studies that seek to engage with the various perspectives studied. The students are expected to present a reading each term, complete related assignments as well as a research paper in the winter term.