Research Themes

McGill’s Faculty of Law has a strong international reputation for its highly distinctive, critical, and pluralist approach to legal research.

At McGill, law is seen as a social force with diverse origins and multiple forms, and as a foundational subject in the humanities and social sciences. Law should be understood in its relationship with a rich range of disciplines and perspectives including politics, philosophy, literature, sociology, economics, geography, history and cultural studies. Our unique transsystemic program, which approaches legal traditions in a dialogic and interactive fashion, provides an ideal platform through which to learn and understand the value of law, as well as the problems and the challenges facing law in an increasingly globalized world.

1. Law and Society

McGill’s distinct approach to legal research sees law as multiple, social and interactive. Law is not just the output of State institutions, nor is it simply the product of lawyers and politicians. It is a cultural expression in which we are all involved; it arises from particular communities and traditions. In Quebec the dynamic dialogue between the English common law and the French civil law is a fine example of these interactive traditions in operation. Law is a living, transformative language of social and political aspiration – a way, as Clifford Geertz said, of ‘imagining the real’.

Research Centres


2. Foundations

The Faculty boasts a strong contingent of constitutional and public law scholars, who also have a sustained involvement with the underlying foundations of law, such as philosophy, history, culture, and literature. The Faculty’s belief in law’s relationship to the humanities finds expression in creative interdisciplinary research in all these areas. Our unique commitment to social, historical, and theoretical studies makes law more complex than ever, but also more richly rewarding and relevant to contemporary experience.

Research Centres


3. Social Policy

The Faculty is home to several scholars whose interest in regulatory institutions and mechanisms produces interdisciplinary research in crucial areas of contemporary policy including international trade, intellectual property, environment, and health law.

Research Centres


4. Human Rights, International Law, and Diversity

McGill’s flagship Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism is at the heart of an internationally renowned research reputation at both post-graduate and Faculty levels. Research into the many facets of global social justice and international human rights is coupled with a sensitivity to legal regulation in relation to complex dynamics of social practice, cultural traditions, and political power.

Research Centres