Mediation Theory

Mediation is a significant feature in the landscape of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It has ancient roots but has re-arisen since the 1970’s, first in America, and latterly across the globe. Its proponents assert that it allows parties to resolve disputes more quickly, cheaply and with greater satisfaction than more traditional methods such as court action. Mediation gives the parties a voice, and crucially it is they who craft their own agreement, not the impartial mediator. Critics, however, claim that mediation privatises disputes (since what takes place ‘in the room’ stays in the room), that it reinforces power imbalances between parties, and that it is wide open for manipulation by the mediator.

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 the key components and principles of mediation. 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.

Learning Experience and Learning Outcomes

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;
  • 140 hours of independent study.

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 and will also allow for, among other things:

  • ‘Face to face’ real time video calls between student and tutor
  • Asynchronous online discussions
  • Group working and reportingLearning and teaching materials will include narrated presentations, video presentations, short demonstration videos, and links to other materials.
  • This module aims to introduce the student to the concept of mediation as a means of dispute resolution. On complete of the module the student will be able to:
  • Critically analyse the term ‘mediation’ as a dispute resolution concept, and describe 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.
  • Articulate and critique key debates in mediation theory and practice.
  • Identify and critically evaluate the practical and ethical implications of the role of the mediator


There are two components of summative assessment.

  • Component 1

Individual essay (3000 words). This essay requires the student to identify, describe and critique one model of mediation. This component is worth up to 60% of the module marks.

  • Component 2

Individual essay (2000 words). This essay requires the student to critically and comparatively evaluate mediation as a form of dispute resolution. This component is worth up to 40% of the module marks.


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

Cost and Start Date

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

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