Bridging divides through commercial arbitration, negotiation and mediation

What is Dispute Resolution about?

In a world where conflict seems to be an inevitable part of the socio-economic landscape, the knowledge and skill required for effective resolution of disputes can have far-reaching implications. Our postgraduate programmes in dispute resolution, focused on core courses including Negotiation, Mediation, and Commercial Arbitration, offer an in-depth understanding of conflict dynamics and strategies for  constructive resolution.

Why do a postgrad qualification in this area?

This specialised expertise not only enriches personal and professional growth but contributes significantly to improved business relationships. As the world continues to grapple with disputes at all scales, those equipped with specialised knowledge in this area have the potential to emerge as architects of smooth negotiation and, ideally, as catalysts for positive change.

Who are these programmes aimed at?

The Dispute Resolution postgraduate programmes are primarily aimed at legal professionals looking to develop negotiation techniques in settlement discussions, to act as mediators in disputes, and to build skills in commercial arbitration. Others who may be interested in this area of knowledge and skill are business executives seeking to safeguard company interests and steer their organisations away from costly legal battles; those involved in international relations and diplomacy; labour relations and human resources practitioners, amongst others. 

What are the programme options?

The Dispute Resolution postgraduate programmes are offered as a postgraduate diploma, an LLM or MPhil, or as a Professional Masters. Each of these has different requirements and a different programme structure.

What do I need to qualify for admission to the Master's programmes?

You do not have to hold an LLB degree. Without an LLB you would be able to register for a MPhil in Dispute Resolution. However, you should have a 65% GPA for your previous degree for admission to Master's programmes in Law.

Further information is in the Faculty's handbook and on our Programmes pages.

What resources does UCT Law's School for Advanced Legal Studies offer in this area?

UCT Law is home to the UCT Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Unit, a specialist research and programmes unit that runs special programmes with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, under a formal MoU. Find out more about what this unit offers.  

Programme courses

Regardless of which degree choice you pursue, the core courses (delivered at the appropriate level) include Negotiation, Mediation, and Commercial Arbitration, serve as the foundations for developing excellent skills in these areas:

  1. Negotiation: Negotiation is a fundamental method of resolving disputes in many areas of the law, including, labour law and commercial law. Through the study of negotiation techniques, individuals learn to navigate complex scenarios, advocate for particular interests, and strike agreements that are mutually beneficial. This skill extends beyond legal proceedings, finding application in everyday interactions and business transactions. The aim of the course is to develop academic and professional proficiency in conflict resolution, negotiation, and mediation. The course is principally targeted at those who hope to become negotiators and wish to develop their academic and professional skills and proficiency in these areas. The course focuses on an introduction to negotiation; various bargaining styles; the negotiation process; principled negotiation and other types of negotiation; negotiation skills and techniques; overcoming impasse and breaking deadlocks; collective bargaining; lawyers as negotiators; the impact of culture on negotiation; online negotiation; and ethics in negotiation. The course involves simulated negotiations.

  2. Mediation: Mediation equips individuals with the skills to act as neutral intermediaries in disputes, guiding conflicting parties towards a collaborative resolution. The course includes a brief overview of conflict; defining mediation; the mediation process; the roles and functions of a mediator and the skills and techniques of a mediator; various mediation styles; the psychology in mediation; mediating different types of disputes (family mediation, labour mediation, commercial mediation) and court-annexed mediation; and impasse and breaking deadlock. The course also covers various codes of conduct for mediators and settlement agreements. The course includes simulated mediations.

  3. Commercial Arbitration: Focused on resolving commercial disputes outside of traditional court settings, this course ensures a deep understanding of arbitration procedures, legal principles, and decision-making. The course looks at the historical development, laws and practices of commercial arbitration, both domestic and international; arbitral institutions and their rules; and practical exercises in the conduct of arbitrations.This expertise is in high demand, especially in international business transactions. 

Programme codes for Dispute Resolution

Postgraduate Diploma: LG002CML11

LLM/ MPhil - coursework & dissertation: LM003CML11/LM002CML11

Professional Masters (coursework only): LM021CML11