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Love, Sex, Relationships and Law

Course Code: LGST 3310
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Legal Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines the legal context within which people develop and have personal relationships. From conception and gestation, through childhood, the teen years, adulthood and ultimately death, one has a series of relationships with others, and all of these relationships are shaped by the law. The course will examine how these relationships are shaped by law from conception through childhood, the teenage years, adult years and the last years of life. Along the way, the course will examine the legal status of the fetus and child, parental rights and responsibilities relating to children, the development of sexual relationships, marriage and marriage-like relationships, the breakdown of relationships, and ultimately later in life issues like adult incapacity and guardianship, wills and estates.

Course Content

1. In the Womb and Birth

  • Legal status of the fetus

2. Childhood and Relationships Early in Life

  • Legal rights of the child
  • Parental rights in relation to the child
  • Parental responsibilities toward the child
  • Role of others in relation to the child: alternative guardians including the state

3. Teens and Early Adulthood: Sexual Relationships and Exploring Sexuality

  • Exploring sexuality
  • Pornography
  • Age of consent
  • Sexual assault
  • Indecent acts
  • Public nudity
  • Sexual Relationships
  • Other sexual conduct

4. Adulthood: Different Sexual and Romantic Relationships, Marriage and Marriage-Like Relationships

  • Different sexual relationships
  • Multiple partners
  • Prostitution
  • Limits of consent
  • Polyamory
  • Marriage and Marriage-Like Relationships
  • “Common law” relationships
  • Marriage – historical definition, reform and current definition
  • Polygamy
  • Divorce
  • Support (spousal and child)
  • Division of assets
  • Child custody and access
  • Remarriage or entering a new marriage-like relationship
  • Legal implications of past relationships for new relationships

5. Later in Life: Support of the Elderly and Reaching Beyond the Grave

  • Parental support, incapacity and adult guardianship
  • Wills and Estates

Methods of Instruction

The following methods of instruction will be used:

  • Lectures
  • Class discussions

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based upon the course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policies. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning fo the course. Evaluation will be based upon the following:

  • Exams
  • Research paper or other written assignment
  • Class attendance and participation

An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Class attendance and participation      10%
Midterm exam  30%
Research paper  30%
Final exam  30%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe the legal status of the fetus in both criminal and civil law, and the legal debate surrounding the rights of the fetus.
  2. Describe the legal rights of the child in relation to specific legal contexts such as medical decisions, contracts, criminal liability and age of sexual consent.
  3. Describe the legal rights and responsibilities of parents in relation to the child in specific legal contexts such as medical decisions, educational decisions, religious instruction, and the discipline of children.
  4. Identify other forms of guardianship of a child and describe the legal basis for these forms of guardianship.
  5. Describe the law of pornography and explain how it has been shaped by public policy concerns about the impact of pornography on sexual conduct.
  6. Describe the law of sexual assault with particular consideration of the concept of consent, and explain how the law of sexual assault has evolved to take into account changing societal values.
  7. Identify other forms of sexual conduct that have been proscribed by law and describe how they have been proscribed.
  8. Describe how the law treats different adult sexual relationships, including multiple partners and prostitution.
  9. Identify different marriage and marriage-like relationships and describe how the law treats those relationships.
  10. Describe the evolution of marriage as a legal relationship.
  11. Describe and explain the legal status of alternative marriage or marriage-like relationships such as polygamy and polyamory.
  12. Describe and explain the legal consequences of relationship breakdown, with reference to spousal support, division of assets, child support, child custody and access.
  13. Describe how the law treats legal incapacity in adulthood with specific reference to legal guardianship.
  14. Identify and describe the basic requirements of a legally valid will.
  15. Identify and describe some different legal options a person has to dispose of their property upon death.
  16. Describe the legal obligations a person may have to provide for family members in their will.
  17. Read statute and case law critically and with good comprehension.
  18. Apply the legal principles covered in the course to real and hypothetical legal problems.

course prerequisites

CRIM 1160

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.