Criminal Justice Program

A Holistic Approach

At the Schulich School of Law, we acknowledge the importance of substantive and procedural criminal law and also recognize that criminal justice interacts in a variety of ways with society and individuals. Our research and teaching look at what influences criminal justice, and who criminal justice affects, while being alert to alternatives that may be better suited to respond to factors that influence crime.

We are concerned about the impacts the criminal justice system has on marginalized communities and individuals, both as victims and perpetrators. We believe that criminal justice must be understood in a social justice context, and that community engagement is central to a fair and transparent criminal justice process.

If you believe that criminal justice goes beyond enforcing the law to examine the factors behind why crimes happen, and you have passion to serve the community and make a difference, then Schulich Law is the place for you.

Specialize in Criminal Justice

We are committed to providing a broad, practical, and well-rounded educational experience to students studying criminal justice. Our course offerings include both large and small group classes that combine lectures, discussions, and active learning techniques. They provide training in trial and appellate advocacy skills, in-depth approaches to advanced concepts, and substantial opportunities for experiential and clinical learning.

Our Criminal Justice Specialization gives JD students an opportunity to focus on this area, and earn a certificate upon graduation. 

Students interested in registering for the Criminal Justice Specialization Certificate must complete the registration form found here.  Once completed, send it to as early as possible and ideally at the start of their second year.

For questions about the Criminial Justice specialization, please email

Specialization Requirements

To graduate with a specialization in Criminal Justice, students must:

  • Complete the mandatory core criminal law courses LAWS 2008 Evidence and LAWS 2091 Criminal Procedure (8 credit hours total);
  • Complete 8 credit hours of electives chosen from the lists below. Students must take at least 1 course from each basket.  

Criminal Justice Prizes

The Sarah Welch Paper Prize in Criminal Law

This annual prize is to be awarded to a second or third year student at the Schulich School of Law who writes the best research paper as part of their regular course work in the area of Criminal Law in the broadest sense. 

Preference given to essays on history of criminal law, fairness, and equity in the application of criminal law, in the course of an academic year. It includes a $2,500 award (if one recipient; if 2 deserving papers - $1,250 per student). The prize will provide recognition and support for students interested and skilled in the pursuit of the Criminal Law field.

The award is to honour the legacy of Sarah Welch and in how she practiced her profession as a Crown Prosecutor. Sarah attended the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University including other secondary education institutions. This prize will pay tribute to her memory, accomplishments, and many contributions to her profession. 

To qualify for consideration for the prize, the paper must be nominated by a professor, and must be written for a course which qualifies for the Criminal Justice Specialization Certificate. This includes papers written in non-criminal law courses which were approved as counting towards the Certificate.

(Jack) Sandy Tse Memorial Prize in Criminal Law

This prize is awarded to the third-year student at the Schulich School of Law graduating with the Criminal Law Specialization Certificate having the highest grade point average in the classes counted towards the specialization. It includes an $1,000 award.

The award is to honour the memory and legacy of Mr. Sandy Tse, who was a highly-respected Crown Prosecutor with a career spanning 35 years in the field. Mr. Tse was a nationally recognized expert in the law of search and seizure, electronic surveillance, and lawful justification. He taught at Crown summer school and advised the police on the most complex and serious criminal investigations.

Experiential Learning

Our students have many opportunities to engage with the community, and get practical experience:

  • Third-year students can spend a term working at the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (DLAS) where they may participate in youth sentencings, bail hearings, trials, peace bond applications and prison law work.
  • Internships, both in Canada and abroad, can offer opportunites to work with organizations dedicated to criminal justice.
  • Pro Bono Dalhousie provides an opportunity for 180 student volunteers to work with more than 50 community organizations, 15 of which currently deal with criminal justice issues including the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Canadian Prison Law Association and Innocence Canada.
  • We participate in both the Sopinka and Gale Cup moots, which focus on criminal matters.
  • In the Criminal Clinic course, students shadow a defence lawyer, Crown attorney or judge for a term, attending trials and gaining exposure to the criminal justice system. 
  • In the Sexual Assault Clinic course students learn through field activities with crown attorneys who specialize in this area, and other professionals involved in sexual assault cases.
  • In the Criminal Appeals Practice and Criminal Trial Practice  courses, students are given practical exposure to the entire process of conducting an appeal or a trial in a criminal case. 

Our Faculty

Schulich Law's criminal justice faculty members are world renowned experts in their field. Students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with professors who are passionately devoted to mentoring students.

Professor of Law
Topics:  Criminal law, Criminal procedure, Law and technology
Phone: 902-494-1035
Mailing Address: 
Room 317, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law
Topics:  Evidence, Sexual assault law, Criminal law ethics, Constitutional law, Feminist legal theory
Phone: 902-494-1005
Mailing Address: 
Room 318, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Ave
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law; Distinguished Research Professor
Topics:  Transnational criminal law, International criminal law, Social media law, International litigation, International law, Cyberbullying, Evidence, Extradition, Civil procedure, Criminal law
Phone: 902-494-1012
Mailing Address: 
Room 435, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Assistant Professor of Law
Topics:  copyright, critical race legal theory, criminal justice
Phone: 902-494-7876
Mailing Address: 
Room 432, Weldon Law Building
6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Associate Professor of Law, Criminal Justice Certificate Coordinator
Topics:  Prison Law & Prisoners’ Rights, Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, Sentencing, Evidence, Charter Rights
Phone: 902-494-1296
Mailing Address: 
Room 427, Weldon Law Building
6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law | Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine (cross-appointment)
Topics:  Criminal Law and Procedure, Mental Disability
Phone: 902-494-1003
Mailing Address: 
Room 421, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Professor of Law; Chair in Restorative Justice and Director of the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (RRIELab)
Topics:  Restorative justice, Human rights, International criminal law, Jurisprudence, Feminist legal theory, Constitutional law, Application of a restorative approach in social and political institutions, Restorative approach to education, Public international law, International human rights law, Truth commissions and transitional justice, Indian Residential Schools, Relational theory
Phone: 902-494-1013
Mailing Address: 
Room 316, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Executive Director, Dalhousie Legal Aid Service
Phone: 902-423-8105
Mailing Address: 
Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, 5746 Russell Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 0H8
University Teaching Fellow
Topics:  Law, Criminal law, Administrative law, Immigration and refugee law, National security
Phone: 902-494-4294
Mailing Address: 
Room 420, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Associate Professor of Law and Co-Chair, Dalhousie University African Nova Scotian Strategy
Topics:  African Nova Scotian Law, Critical Race Theory and Practice, Critical Race Feminism, Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education, Human rights, Criminal Law
Phone: 902-494-2863
Mailing Address: 
Room 322, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2

Faculty Research

Steve Coughlan

  • Detention and Arrest, 3d ed, Irwin Law (manuscript is with the publisher) 

Rob Currie

  • Attended meeting of drafting team for the founding statute of the International Anti-Corruption Court, The New Institute, Hamburg Germany, August 28-31, 2023
  • 2023 Recipient of the Gonthier Fellowship, Awarded by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice Project: "When (and Where) is a Crime a Crime? 'Double Criminality' as a Principle of Fundamental Justice"
  • (ed) Transnational & Cross-Border Criminal Law: Canadian Perspectives Irwin, 2023 (to be published in September)

Steve Coughlan, Rob Currie & Adelina Iftene

  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2022, Thomson Reuters, 2023

Career Paths

The opportunities to work in this interesting and complex area of the law are broad and diverse. Whether your goal is to work as a criminal lawyer, for a non-governmental organization, as an academic, or as a legal policy analyst, your education at Schulich Law will prepare you for the career path of your choice. Many of our alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in the criminal justice sphere.

A Recent Graduate's Perspective


The Criminal Justice Certificate provides students with the opportunity to receive a well-rounded legal education with a focus on courses that delve into the many interesting facets of criminal law and criminal justice.


An Alumni Perspective


This new certificate is a first for the country and will provide vital opportunities for students, who will benefit in ways that will undoubtedly lead us into the future."