Study Abroad Programs in Pre-Law, Comparative Legal Systems, and International Law

Many of our majors aspire to practice law and/or to have a career in international affairs with a specialization in international law. The Department has developed two programs that offer majors (and minors) an opportunity to “internationalize” their undergraduate pre-law experience. These programs provide courses that view the U.S. legal system in comparative perspective with those of Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union, as well as substantive such courses as international law and human rights.

Strasbourg Summer Program in European Law and Institutions

Now approaching its eighth year, each summer the Political Science Department offers its own faculty-led three-week program designed specifically for students with interests in pre-law and legal studies, as well as comparative and international politics. Taught in Strasbourg, France, this program consists of two three-credit courses on comparative law and institutions. The first course, taught by WVUProfessor John Kilwein, is “Comparative European Legal Systems” and offers an intensive examination of the legal systems and processes of Britain, France, and Germany. Because Strasbourg is located on France’s boarder with Germany, the course includes a variety of site visits to courts, police stations, and institutions in both Germany and France. The second course is “European Union Law and Institutions,” taught by Professor Alexis Valhas of the University of Strasbourg, and examines the evolution, structure, and processes of the European Union. The course includes site visits to the European Parliament, Council of Europe, and other EU institutions located in Strasbourg. As an extension of the EU course, students also visit additional EU institutions in Luxembourg and Brussels, Belgium. Click on this link for the Summer Strasbourg Program Website for full details on the program and an informative video.

Pre-Law Program at the School of Law, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

WVU has, via the Department of Political Science, entered into a “partnership” with the School of Law at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, that permits qualified WVU to enroll in the University and attend their School of Law for a semester or a year. Note, in contrast to the study of law in the U.S., law is an undergraduate degree in the UK, and Manchester’s Pre-Law Pathway for U.S. Students permits well-prepared WVU students to enroll directly into their law courses at all levels. This program is relevant to Political Science majors with interests in pre-law/legal studies and/or comparative politics and international relations. For pre-law students intent on going onto to Law School, the Manchester semester can provide an initial experience studying law and an opportunity to take such core courses as “torts” or “contracts,” as well as classes on British legal tradition and jurisprudence. As for students interested I.R./comparative politics (and planning to attend graduate school in international affairs, the Manchester programs offers substantive law courses on such topics as European institutions, international law, international human rights, and ethics and warfare. For a current list of courses offered by School of Law, click on the following links for their “Level 1”, “Level 2”, and “Level 3”. Note: at Manchester can elect to take one third of their course work at in the Political Science Department at Manchester University.

Selection to the program will be competitive and based on each applicant’s GPA and the extent of her/his course background in law-related courses, i.e., second semester juniors or seniors who have had three 300-level courses in the pre-law/legal studies track (including those of the Strasbourg summer program). A 3.0 GPA is required by the University of Manchester for admission to their study abroad programs. Note, per the WVU-Manchester agreement, WVU students apply to the program through WVUand its Office of International Programs. This has several benefits, including allowingWVU students to use most financial aid and scholarships to cover tuition. 


Highly qualified WVU students accepted into the Manchester Pre-Law Program have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to support their study at the University of Manchester. Students awarded the scholarship will carry the designation of a “Barnette Scholar at the University of Manchester”. Multiple scholarships will be available each semester. These scholarships are currently $2000 for a semester study at Manchester. These are awarded by the University of Manchester on the recommendation of a faculty committee of the WVU Department of Political Science.

The purpose of the Barnette Scholars program is to provide funding to help defray the additional costs of attending the University of Manchester. These scholarships are intended for WVU students who are residents of West Virginia. As such, they can help make up the difference between WVU’s “in-state” tuition and that of the University of Manchester, which is closer to “out-of-state” tuition at WVU. These scholarships are also meant to support to the most highly qualified WVU students. In addition to the requisite Political Science law courses, a minimum of a 3.75 grade point average is a primary qualification for successful application to the Barnette Scholars program.

These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of Curtis H. “Hank” Barnette. Mr. Barnette majored in Political Science as an undergraduate student atWVU, during which time he also served as the student body president, a Cadet Colonel in the ROTC, and was a distinguished military graduate. He graduated in 1956 with high honors and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He then studied international law as a Fulbright Scholar at the School of Law at the University of Manchester. After military service he earned a law degree from the Yale Law School, and thereafter attended the Harvard Business School.

Now Of Counsel to the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Chairman Emeritus of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Mr. Barnette served the corporation for three decades, starting as a lawyer in 1967, becoming General Counsel, and retiring as Chairman and CEO in 2000. During his career, he has also served the U.S government in the area of international affairs and national security. This ranged from work in the Counter Intelligence Corps to serving on Presidential Advisory Commissions under Presidents Reagan, Clinton and both Presidents Bush.

Mr. Barnette is one of WVU’s most distinguished and active alums. He is a member of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni, was inducted into WVU’s Order of Vandalia—the highest recognition that WVU pays to its outstanding alumni, and has received an honorary LLD. He has served on numerous advisory boards for the University, is a Director Emeritus of the WVU Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of the WVU Board of Governors.

Mr. Barnette’s academic experiences at WVU and Manchester are the model for the newly established partnership of the WVU’s Department of Political Science with the School of Law at the University of Manchester.