Politics, Philosophy, and Law

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Politics, Philosophy, and Law (PPL) Minor is aimed at students anticipating careers in public service, including law, government, academia, and non-profit organizations. Students in the Minor will develop sophisticated skills of research, analysis, and written and verbal expression though the examination of normative facets of politics. The Minor is largely composed of existing courses in Legal Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, and Political Economy, but it will develop its own seminars as well. The PPL Minor will serve as a community of like-minded students, who will encounter each other in a range of extra-curricular events and programs, including career-related events. Entry into the Minor is by application, supported by teacher recommendations. We are especially committed to recruiting a diverse cohort of students. The Minor requires a minimum GPA of 3.3.

The PPL Minor will host a range of talks and workshops in topics of justice and politics, and will be developing internship opportunities.

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Minor Requirements

Students will develop, in individual discussions with the PPL faculty advisor, a thematic emphasis for their path through the Minor. The theme might include additional courses on normative topics, in any department or program. Examples of possible themes are social equality, environmental justice, public policy and future generations, democracy and diversity in theory and practice, justice in law and literature, immigration and borders, the history and politics of human rights, bioethics, multiculturalism in practice, global justice, and religion and secularism in public life. This theme would likely support the completion of the thesis requirement, below.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Completing the Minor requires five courses, four of which are upper division lectures or seminars, and one of which is a one semester capstone project, for a total of five courses.
The four courses will be chosen from this list:
(a) No more than 2 classes may be taken in any one Department, not counting any required capstone honors thesis seminar.
(b) No more than 1 class may be counted both for the student’s major and the minor.
(c) No more than 2 classes may be in the student’s majors.
(d) One of the courses must be a designated Writing Intensive seminar or Writing Intensive section of a lecture course. These are indicated with an asterisk.
(e) All courses for the Minor must be taken for a letter grade, and the student must have an overall average of 3.3 or higher for all courses for the Minor. An exception will be made for students who complete the Capstone requirement with a 199 (ungraded) course.
It is strongly recommended that all students in the Minor take at least one of these courses: LEGALST 107 or POL SCI 115 (“Theories of Justice”), PHILOS 108 Contemporary Ethical Issues (“Moral Philosophy”) or PHILOS 115 (“Political Philosophy”), or POLECON 100 (“Classical Theories of Political Economy”). Note that some of these recommended classes will also have WI sections, thus satisfying requirement (d).
In addition, all students in the Minor will complete a capstone senior thesis requirement. This may be either the senior thesis in their major, so long as the thesis subject is approved by the Minor Faculty Advisor, or a self-standing 199 independent study, presumptively supervised by one of the faculty associated with the Minor, or by some other member of the faculty with relevant expertise, per agreement of the Faculty Director. A self-standing thesis will be 25–30 pages long. (Students placed in a writing-intensive internship may also be able to complete the capstone requirement through the internship.) All seniors in the Minor will be required to participate in a special colloquium for thesis writers, where they will present their work in progress to one another; other students in the Minor may also attend. Students will also be expected to attend, to the extent feasible, workshops and lectures featuring outside speakers, for example those hosted by the Kadish Center for Morality, Law, and Public Affairs. Finally, students in the Minor will be expected to participate in extra-curricular events associated with the Minor, such as outings to cultural events, workshops on applications for graduate school applications or public interest internships, and special discussions. We anticipate 2–3 such events per semester.

Plan of Study

Sample course plans: 

Legal Studies Major

PHILOS 104 Ethical Theories 

L & S 107WI Theories of Justice

L & S 190 Basic Legal Values

POL SCI 124C Ethics and Justice in International Affairs

L & S H195 and L & S H195B. Thesis topic: “Global Distributive Justice”

Political Science Major:

POL SCI 115WI Theories of Justice

POL SCI 191 Junior Seminar Democratic Erosion

POLECON 100 Classical Theories of Political Economy

L & S 119 Philosophy and Law of Ancient Athens

Honors Thesis Sequence POL SCI H190A and POL SCI H190B. Thesis topic: “Wealth and Oligarchy in Democratic Politics.”

Economics Major

PHILOS 108 Contemporary Ethical Issues

POLECON 111 Poverty and Social Policy 

L & S 107WI Theories of Justice

POL SCI 147G The Welfare State in Comparative Perspective 

Independent Study in PS for senior thesis. Thesis topic: “Justice, Welfare, and Poverty.”

Philosophy major

PHILOS 100 Philosophical Methods 

POL SCI 115WI Theories of Justice

POL SCI 116 Special Topics in Political Theory 

L & S 181 Psychology & the Law

Capstone thesis in Philosophy. Thesis topic: “The wrongness of bias.”

Engineering major

L & S 107WI Theories of Justice

L & S 123 Data, Prediction and the Law

PHILOS 121 Moral Questions of Data Science 

POL SCI 191 Junior Seminar 

Capstone thesis advised in Legal Studies. Thesis topic: “Should Data Privacy be Protected by Human Rights Law?”

Contact Information

Undergraduate Studies

Phone: 231 Evans Hall

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Program Director

Christopher Kutz

Phone: 510-642-6053


Student Academic Advisor

Laura Spautz

265 Evans Hall


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