Alternative Dispute Resolution

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

The main aim of this module is to offer a critical analysis of the theoretical and practical discourse of dispute processes in comparative perspective. The module considers a range of issues and materials relating to the development of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and current debates on civil justice reform in selected jurisdictions.

The module first examines the emergent concern in social science and jurisprudential writing with the nature and significance of disputes, and considers the manner in which traditional approaches have been “rediscovered‟ and utilised in the refurbishment of civil justice through first the “Access to Justice‟ movement and then the “ADR‟ movement. The module also investigates the manner in which disputes are characterised, the diverse views located in the debates that surround disputes, the causes of disputes, and the handling of disputes. It introduces the major theoretical approaches to disputes and their resolution, and examines the decision making processes used in response to disputes.

In particular, the module examines negotiation, and mediation, and considers these processes as they are applied in a range of settings. It is informed by the view that knowledge of the differing processes of dispute resolution and the surrounding discourses is an invaluable subject matter of academic enquiry. In addition, such knowledge enables lawyers and others to be more resourceful and effective in their legal problem solving.

By the end of the module, students will have gained an understanding of the theoretical and practical dimensions of dispute resolution, and the groundwork laid for further inquiry into and application of non-adversarial methods and skills in dispute resolution. In particular, through practical experience in simulated exercises, students will gain an understanding of the dynamics of mediation and negotiation and the necessary skill of the mediator.

Objectives and learning outcomes

  • Understanding of theoretical and practical issues surrounding the differing processes of dispute resolution;
  • Knowledge and understanding of the core literature relating to the areas studied on the module, an in particular negotiation and mediation;
  • Basic ADR skills and practice experience that improve understanding of issues of ADR in legal practice.


  • Weekly 2-hour seminar
  • Group mediations (1 hour x 3)

Method of assessment

  • Essay Plan: 20% (500 words)
  • Extended Essay: 80% (2500 words)

Suggested reading

  • Roberts, Simon and Michael, PALMER (2005) Dispute Processes: ADR and the Primary Forms of Decision Making, Second Edition, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Felstiner, W., R. ABEL, & A. SARAT (1980-1) “The Emergence and Transformation of Disputes:  Naming, Blaming, Claiming  etc.,” Law and Society Review,  Vol.  15, pp. 631-654
  • Fuller, Lon (1978) “The Forms and Limits of Adjudication,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 92, pp. 353-409
  • Nader, Laura (1993) “Controlling Processes in the Practice of Law: Hierarchy and Pacification in the Movement to Reform Dispute Ideology,” Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 10, pp. 1-25
  • Sander, Frank E. A. and Lukasz ROZDEICZER (2006) “Matching Cases and Dispute Resolution Procedures: Detailed Analysis Leading to a Mediation-Centred Approach,” Harvard Negotiation Law Review,  Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 1-41


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.