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Introduction to the U.S. American Law and Legal System

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Classification

This is a Themis course. It is also open to non-Themis students.

Teaching Mode

online teaching
Students will have the choice either to join the live sessions via video conference, or to watch the recorded class sessions at a later point of time.

Contact Hours

2 hours per week


5 (if course has been attended regularly and exam has been passed)


This course is being taught regularly. It will be available in every semester.

Time Schedule and Course Venue

please see our electronic course catalogue

Course Content

The course provides a general overview of the U.S. legal system. The course starts by introducing students to the legal education in the U.S. and the distinction between common and civil law jurisdictions. It continues by familiarizing students with the sources of U.S. law, both on the federal and state level, and taking a deeper dive into the U.S. Constitution as the foundation of the U.S. legal system, i.a., explaining the various methodological concepts of how to interpret the U.S. Constitution. The course will then address the U.S. court systems on both the federal and state levels with a focus on the U.S. Supreme Court and its jurisprudence. The course will also cover different material law topics from the U.S. legal system, incl. criminal and criminal procedure law as well as contract and tort law, in each case relying heavily on discussing relevant case law. The course is taught through a combination of lecture and in-class discussions and encourages active participation in order to acquire and practice legal terminology. In addition to the above topics the course covers select current issues from the U.S. legal systems, esp. notable trials, elections etc.

Restricted Enrollment

yes (that means that the number of participants is limited and that you might not get a place in this course)

Course Registration

via Campus Management

Please sign up for this course under the module "Study Program for Exchange Students - Module 4".

registration period: 2 April 2024, 9 a.m. - 12 April 2024, 12.p.m. (noon)

In order to know if you have obtained a place in this course, please check out your course plan on Campus Management (tab "Stundenplan") from 13 April 2024.

As long as there are still seats available after the registration period has expired, they will be allocated according to the principle "first come, first served" if you sign up by 3 May 2024.

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 2 April 2024, 9 a.m. - 3 May 2024, 12 a.m. (midnight)

After the regular drop period you can only drop this course with a valid cause until 14 days prior to the exam. Please contact the International Office at the Law Department if you have to use this option.

Type of Exam

There will be a written final examination.

Exam Date and Place

The exam is probably going to take place on the Monday following the end of the lecture period. → Academic Calendar

Registration for the Exam

Students will automatically be registered for the exam when they sign up for this course.

De-Registration from the Exam

Students who drop this course via Campus Management are automatically de-registered from the exam. Students who do not drop this course via Campus Management and do not take the exam, are going to finish this course with a non-passing grade (0 points).

Grade Release

via Campus Management