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Conflict Prevention, Dispute Resolution (MA)

Course Description

This course embraces a wide range of public, private and domestic issues relevant to the prevention and resolution of conflicts and disputes, including the roles of laws, decisions, risks and justice. The course includes (but is not restricted to) negotiation and arbitration, and also the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes such as mediation and conciliation.

You will be able to mix with students on other Masters courses at Westminster Law School. Classes are usually small, allowing for an interactive approach to learning. The course combines academic and practical approaches to teaching and learning.

Course content

The course aims to provide an opportunity for in-depth study of the issues and the practices involved in the field of conflict prevention and dispute resolution, including the mechanisms of prevention, emergence, avoidance, management, resolution and regulation.

The course content is not explicitly concerned with 'peace studies', but the processes of prevention and the processes of resolution embrace the concepts of securing and maintaining peaceful cooperation.

Core modules:

• Perspectives on Conflicts and Disputes
You will be introduced to the field of conflict and dispute prevention and resolution. You will cover domestic, commercial, municipal and international aspects of the subject, and the main processes involved in conflict and dispute prevention and resolution.

• Postgraduate Dissertation
This module allows you to develop a knowledge and understanding of a specialist portion of the field of conflict and dispute prevention and resolution. You will have the support of a supervisor for this independent research and writing work. You must agree the topic with the module leader. The topic must not replicate your own prior work or anyone else's work. Your work for this module should provide you with advanced research skills, and advanced skills of analysis, evaluation, synthesis, application and writing, all of which should stand you in good stead for any subsequent academic or practitioner career.

• Research Theory and Practice
This module introduces you to the general concepts of legal and social scientific (empirical) methods of research, and gives you a greater understanding of the principles of advanced research. You will consider the relevance of these methods for the study of law, which will enhance your understanding of the legal, social scientific and philosophical debates on methodology and practice. It will also enable you to evaluate your own work and that of other researchers and authors.

This is an independent module with its own rational and assessment; but it is also necessarily linked to the dissertation module.

Option modules:
• Conflict Resolution: Negotiation
You will examine the theoretical and practical approaches to conflict and conflict resolution, and you will study the structure of conflict within and between organisations. You will also evaluate the ways in which negotiations are formed, and what processes may be applied to enable or disable the negotiation process. The module will develop your understanding of cultural differences within the area of negotiation and associated inter-personal priorities.

• International Commercial Arbitration
You will be introduced to the study of international commercial arbitration, from the perspective of the English jurisdiction. The aim is to study four pairs of overlapping relationships: between parties and tribunals; between parties and courts; between tribunals and courts; and between England and foreign fora. There will be focus, inter alia, on the ICC (institutional arbitration) and the New York Convention

• International Human Rights Law
The module introduces you to the protection of human rights in international law. You will gain an overview of the historical and philosophical background of human rights, and a greater understanding of the protection of human rights at the international level though the UN and regional systems (with particular emphasis on Europe). You will also study contemporary issues in international human rights law, such as refugees, humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, and terrorism and torture.

• International Law and Development
You will study law and policy relating to international development, including the right to development in international law, international development assistance and poverty alleviation, and law and policy relating to overseas development assistance in the UK and the EU. The module will give you a greater understanding of the global challenges for development, and will give you the skills to undertake informed policy and advocacy work internationally.

• International Commercial Mediation

• Mediation: Concepts, Evolution and Practice
This module introduces you to the modes and culture of mediation as a dispute resolution process in a range of contexts, with a detailed analysis of the growth of mediation practice and theory as well as current and possible future trends. You will become familiar with the conceptual, legal and practical frameworks of mediation, and how it is used in the UK and internationally. You will also develop basic mediation skills, learn to appreciate the roles of those taking part in the mediation processes, and acquire communication and other skills which are particularly useful in the mediation context.

• Negotiation: Theory, Contexts and Practice
The aim of this module is to introduce the study and practice of negotiation in the contexts of international and municipal commerce, and international affairs and international law, examining inter alia issues arising out of conflicts and disputes in those contexts. Among the areas covered are the relationships between pairs of negotiators; negotiators and the law; negotiators and ambient cultures; and theories and practices of negotiation.

• Restorative Justice: Cultures, Integration and Law
This module provides an introduction to the field of restorative justice, covering international, domestic and public aspects of the field, and the main processes involved in dispute prevention and resolution. The module includes consideration of conflicts within and between groups, and victim-offender mediation and other processes within the field, including reconciliation after civil disturbances.

Associated careers

This course is designed to benefit a wide range of individuals, including graduates progressing towards a PhD programme, practising lawyers wanting to further their knowledge and skills, other graduates and practitioners (such as arbitrators, civil servants, insurers, journalists, judges, linguists and mediators), and anyone managing people and risks. The course is also ideal if you are on a gap year between career stages, and for those from the European Union and other countries who want to improve their English for personal and career purposes.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Conflict Prevention, Dispute Resolution (MA) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You are expected to have a good UK Honours degree in Law or a non-Law subject (such as – but not limited to – Politics, Psychology, and Management) or the equivalent from a non-UK university, and satisfactory references. Other qualifications or experiential routes can sometimes be agreed. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent in each of the elements. Pre-sessional summer programmes are not normally appropriate for this course.

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