Mediation Theory and Practice

This module introduces the student to the theory AND practice of mediation as a means of dispute resolution. It will introduce and build on the fundamental concepts and debates around mediation, and will then provide participants with the skills and understanding they need to develop a critical and reflective approach to their mediation practice.

This module describes what mediation in its various forms and techniques is all about. It sets out the poles of the debates both within mediation and more generally, encouraging a critical awareness of this significant and growing form of dispute resolution.

It places mediation in the context of the ADR spectrum, and describes its key components and principles. The module then introduces the student to the main forms of mediation (facilitative, evaluative, transformative and narrative), and encourages critical evaluation both of the generic concept and of each of the main forms. The module will also examine the structure and techniques of mediation as performed, to develop the student’s critical understanding of the part played by the mediator ‘in the room’, and the practical and ethical implications of the mediator’s role.

The practical element of this module will take place on the QMU campus over 4 days (normally in June) which students must attend. This will be interactive and practice-based with a case study focus. Students will be expected to consider and reflect on how the learning could be applied to their own practice relating to dispute resolution. Practice will include:

  • opening a mediation session confidently and appropriately
  • outlining how mediation works,
  • communicating ground rules, building rapport, inviting parties to express their concerns, issues, feelings and interests, questioning and listening skills, defusing aggression and maintaining control in a balanced way, managing interruptions assertively,
  • summarising clearly using neutral language, highlighting potential common ground, clarifying issues and options, structuring discussions, reality testing, helping parties generate the way forward, encouraging equal participation, maintaining impartiality, building workable solutions,
  • drafting mediation agreements and closing the mediation session appropriately.

Learning Experience and Learning Outcomes

The module will consider how mediation theory and mediation skills can be applied in practice to disputes and to enable learners develop their own practice of mediation as a means of dispute resolution. The module, taught online, will engage the student in the following types of learning experiences.

  • 60 hours of online lectures, webinars, discussion groups/boards, and directed learning;
  • 100 hours of independent study; and
  • 40 hours of face-to-face practice based instruction, reflection and role play.

Tutor support and independent study will both be facilitated online via a dedicated website. The website will be the key repository for learning and teaching materials. It will also allow for, among other things:

  • ‘Face to face’ real time video calls between student and tutor
  • Asynchronous online discussions
  • Group working and reporting


Learning and teaching materials will include narrated presentations, video presentations, short demonstration videos, and links to other materials.

There will be four days (28 hours) of face-to-face contact delivered in block format, supplemented by 12 hours of directed learning throughout the block. This will take place on the QMU campus in June (dates to be advised). Typical activities include

  • role plays
  • exercises
  • case studies
  • discussions and quizzes
  • live and video demonstrations by mediation practitioners
  • reflection

 On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

  • Define and critically analyse the term ‘mediation’ as a dispute resolution concept, describing its key elements, principles and forms.
  • Critically evaluate mediation as a form of ADR in comparative context, both against other forms of ADR and as against traditional court litigation.
  • Identify and critically evaluate the practical and ethical implications of the role of the mediator.
  • Critically evaluate the practice of mediation and mediation skills in a range of dispute contexts
  • Critically explore a range of key practice based issues, such as suitability for mediation, working with challenge, power imbalances and mediator neutrality
  • Confidently and effectively carry out a structured mediation


There are two components of assessment:

  • Component 1

Essay (3000 words). This essay requires the student to critically and comparatively evaluate mediation as a form of dispute resolution. This component is worth up to 60% of the module marks.

  • Component 2

Summative practice observation during face to face contact (40%)

Cost and Start Date

The fee for this 20 credit points module is £688. The start date is January with completion by end of August.

Registration as a Mediator

The Mediation Theory and Practice module has been designed to meet the minimum “initial training requirements” for mediators set out by Scottish Mediation (SM). This is the professional body for mediators in Scotland and it sets out standards that mediators must meet in order to be included on the Scottish Mediation Register. While the Mediation Theory and Mediation Practice module will provide you with the skills and knowledge required to begin developing a career in mediation, they will not make you a “registered mediator”. For inclusion onto the Scottish Mediation Register, for example, you need to be able to demonstrate, amongst other things, that you have conducted 2 mediations or no less than six hours of mediation in the last 12 months. More details about the Scottish Mediation are available here: http://www.scottishmediation.org.uk/.

The programme team will be happy to provide you with advice on pursuing a career in mediation following the course and on ways to gain experience of mediation in order to allow registration with a professional body.

Start Your Application

Apply for this Course