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School of Criminology | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Applied Legal Studies

Master of Arts

This master of arts (MA) program is primarily for students intending to practice as Notaries Public in the province of British Columbia. The degree is granted upon the successful completion of the required number of courses and a final examination, and prepares students for admission to notarial practice (subject to further requirements), prescribed by the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and for business and public service.

The number of individuals entering notarial practice in British Columbia is ultimately governed by the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. Conferral of this degree is no guarantee of a position in the society's post degree professional training programs or in notarial practice.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should regard their satisfaction of the entrance requirements as meaning only that they are eligible for selection. Since there is competition for admission, a regular applicant should have an undergraduate academic average substantially higher than the minimum in order to have a reasonable chance of admission. Certain factors such as financial hardship, learning disabilities or other disadvantages, may be considered in the discretionary category. Note that only a limited number of positions will be available each year in the discretionary category.

To be eligible for selection, an applicant must have

  • obtained an undergraduate degree in an approved course of study from a degree granting institution with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0 or higher, or obtained an undergraduate degree from a degree-granting institution with a CGPA of less than 3.0 and have subsequently completed an approved course of study at a degree-granting institution resulting in the award of either a certificate, diploma or other approved qualification with a CGPA of 3.0 or higher, or a recognized professional qualification relevant to notarial practice, such as accounting, or
  • successful completion of 90 or more units of an approved course of study leading to an undergraduate degree at a degree-granting institution with a CGPA of 3.0 or higher, and possess sufficient and appropriate work experience relevant to notarial practice that, in the view of the admissions committee, compensates for the lack of a completed degree, or practiced as a Notary Public for a period of at least 10 years, be in good standing with the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, and have successfully completed an approved course of study at a degree-granting institution resulting in the award of a certificate, diploma or other approved qualification with a CGPA of 3.0 or higher, or
  • met the criteria for discretionary applicants as set out below

Applicants are responsible for providing full documentation. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated.

Discretionary Applicants

Special life factors may impede the ability of an otherwise promising candidate to satisfy some of the regular admission criteria. Accordingly, the admissions committee may consider factors such as age, disability, financial disadvantage, membership in an historically disadvantaged group, or any other factors that the applicant identifies. These factors are considered in the context of the applicant’s life achievements and work experience, including community or charitable volunteer work.

Discretionary applicants must have completed the first two years of an approved course of study leading to an undergraduate degree at an approved college or university. A personal statement, two reference letters and, where appropriate, documentation such as medical reports are required. Each applicant is considered individually on their merits. An interview before the admissions committee may be required.


Potential applicants who wish to enter notarial practice in British Columbia are strongly encouraged to contact the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia before submitting an application to ensure that they are likely to be eligible for admission to practice in the province.

The following must be submitted by February 1st each year, for admission to the program in the fall of that year.

To be considered for admission for the fall term, the applicant must

  • complete the online application which is available on the Dean of Graduate Studies website
  • submit official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • pay the application fee
  • submit other documentation as required (e.g. letters of reference, medical certificates, special circumstances letters, or other supporting documentation for discretionary applicants)

Degree Requirements

The following ten graduate courses are required. Courses are normally offered in the following sequence.

Fall Term

ALS 601 - Canadian Legal System (3)

Designed to give students a systematic knowledge of the workings of Canadian law and the Canadian legal system. Provides a comprehensive discussion of the various principles and schools of jurisprudence, and will canvass the basic legal institutions in Canada. Considers the history of Canadian law, the development of the framework of the Canadian constitution, the Constitution itself, the roles and responsibilities of Canadian courts and the roles and responsibilities of members of the legal profession. Ensures that students gain a comprehensive understanding of the nature of legal reasoning, the doctrines of precedent and stare decicis, and the key rules and principles of statutory interpretation. Students will also be given a systematic introduction to four substantive areas of law: criminal law, administrative law, family law, and tort law.

ALS 602 - Legal Research and Writing (3)

Designed to give students a solid foundation in legal research and writing skills. Provides students with an overview of how both legislation and case law are created, including consideration of the basic principles of legal analysis. Proper legal research techniques and strategies will be considered for both primary and secondary legal sources. Consideration will also be given to the many on-line legal research resources. Finally, students will receive instruction in the general principles of legal writing and apply these principles to different types of legal writing including analytical writing and the drafting of legal documents.

ALS 610 - Contracts (3)

Introduces students to the fundamental principles underlying Contract Law in Canada, and the practical application of such principles in the commercial environment. Students will learn the essential elements of what makes an "enforceable contract" such as offer and acceptance, certainty of terms, form and consideration as well as those things that may well make a contract unenforceable, such as misrepresentation, frustration, duress and privity issues. Warranties, representations, conditions and remedies for breach of contract will also be covered, as will contractual interpretation.

Spring Term

ALS 603 - Legal Philosophy (3)

Designed to give students a solid grounding in the central themes of legal philosophy. Examines the major schools of jurisprudence. Affords an opportunity to reflect in a disciplined and critical way on the structure and functions of law, legal institutions and systems. Involves an analysis of the nature of legal reasoning and discourse, and looks to the connections between law and morality.

ALS 611 - Real Property I (3)

Involves the study of basic principles and statutory regimes which govern the institution of Real Property. Topics addressed will include: the legal concept of land, the nature of and rationale for property, transfer of interests in land, registration of title and the nature of the land title system, the acquisition of estates in land, co-ownership of land, and future interests.

ALS 620 - Selected Topics in Applied Legal Studies (3)

Designed to give students a detailed understanding of key topics in applied legal studies, with a particular emphasis upon areas of low and practice that are of special interest to Notaries Public. Topics may change from year to year and may vary by in instructor but it is anticipated that topics will include, the law of agency; current issues in tax law; the law affecting business/not for profit incorporation, and business associations.

Summer Intersession

ALS 612 - Real Property II (3)

Deals with the law relating to vendors and purchasers of real estate, particularly as affected by the substantive law of mortgages, and considers the remedies available to vendors, purchasers, mortgagors and mortgagees, as well as the role and duties of real estate agents. Also deals with residential and commercial tenancies.

ALS 615 - Personal Planning (3)

Provides an overview of the law of succession and familiarizes students with the principles necessary to competently advise clients about the transfer of property on death and to draft a will that meets the client's objectives. Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements as planning tools will be examined.

Fall Term

ALS 630 - Topics in Legal Practice (6)

Builds on the theoretical understanding students have by exploring how the legal advisor assists clients in effectively dealing with their issues. Topics range from the purpose of legal professionals to developing sustainable strategies for the operation of a legal practice.

ALS 631 - MA Examination (3)

A final examination on core subjects, which will normally occur towards the end of the student's fourth term in the program. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

The courses taught in the first fall term usually employ a mixed mode of delivery where students attend campus for two weeks at the startof the term, and for one week at the end. Weeks three through 12 are delivered online and by distance education. Spring term courses are usually delivered by online and distance education. Students attend campus for the summer intersession (usually from mid May to mid June). The final capstone course in the fall term follows the same mixed delivery mode. Students also complete a final examination (normally at the end of the fourth term) that shows mastery and critical engagement with the depth and breadth of the program’s subject matter.

While students are encouraged to complete the degree program within 16 months, it is possible to take courses and complete the program on a part-time basis over a longer period. It should be noted, however, that some courses must be taken sequentially, and that all the requirements for the degree must be completed within five years. Students wishing to complete the program on a part-time basis should contact the associate director responsible for the school's graduate programs for further information.

Those who do not wish notary public accreditation, or who are practicing notaries, may be permitted to substitute up to nine units of courses with the approval of the associate director responsible for criminology graduate programs. Only one of these courses may be a directed readings course.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.