Fundamentals of Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a popular way to resolve disputes.  This module examines different forms of dispute resolution such as ombudsman schemes and mediation exploring how and why consumer and citizen conflicts and disputes emerge, escalate and are resolved. 

The module aims to enable learners to develop a deep understanding of the principles underlying the major approaches to dispute resolution and the socio-political contexts in which these approaches are developing. It starts by examining what we mean by conflict and disputes, and explores how and why conflicts and disputes emerge, escalate and are resolved. 

It includes exploring the complex dynamics between dispute resolution processes and their surrounding cultural context. The module moves on to covers the development of traditional and alternative forms of dispute resolution, the political and social contexts in which these are evolving and evaluates the main adjudicative and non-adjudicative models of dispute resolution.

In doing so, it seeks to develop a broad and deep understanding of the key issues, themes and controversies involved in contemporary dispute resolution theory, policy and practice.

Learning Experience and Learning Outcomes

The module will engage learners in:

  • 60 hours on-line discussion and directed learning;
  • 140 hours independent study.


All of the interaction, tutor support and independent study will be facilitated online and will include the following activities:

  • Adobe Connect/ Skype or telephone sessions
  • Asynchronous online discussions
  • Synchronous chat sessions
  • Case studies
  • Group work via the online discussion board
  • Online quizzes

Learners will be encouraged to set up online special interest groups to enhance collegiality in learning and provide peer support.

The module aims to enable learners to develop a deep understanding of the main approaches to dispute resolution and critically discuss the socio-political contexts in which these approaches are developing. On successful completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Critically explore a range of conflict and disputing theories in order to understand the emergence and management of conflict and the way it shapes dispute resolution processes.
  • Identify, and critically evaluate, the theory, principles and practices underlying formal and informal, and adjudicative and non-adjudicative, approaches to dispute resolution
  • Critically assess various models of dispute resolution and, drawing on a wide range of evidence, reflect on their relative advantages and disadvantages
  • Discuss the socio-political context in which traditional and alternative models of dispute resolution are evolving and evaluate possible future directions in the UK and internationally
  • Work collaboratively with other students, as part of an online learning community, in order to assess critically the fundamental mechanisms and processes of dispute resolution.


There are two components of assessment:

  • Component 1

Learners will be assessed on their contribution to online discussions. These contributions will include a reflective element (30%)

  • Component 2

Individual essay of 4,000 words. This component is worth up to 70% of the module marks.


Feedback will be provided on all the online activities as well as the summative assessment.

Cost & start date

NB This module will run in September 2020 subject to demand and has a minimum number requirement.

The start date is September with completion by end of January.

The fee for this module can be found under the 'Online Learning' tab here: Fees and Charges

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