I did Resolving Disputes (76052) this Spring 2009 semester.
Learning Structure: 3/5
2 hour lectures/seminars per week and a 2-day weekend workshop (9.30am-5.30pm).
The 2 hour seminars can either go really fast or slowly. For the 1st half of the semester, there’s some discussion of theory and practical exercises, which are quite fun. However, the 2nd half of the semester is JUST presentations. You have 3-4 presentations which take up the entire 2 hour seminar – sadly, this is quite boring and it’s sometimes hard to see how the seminar topics fit together. But in a way, the topics are so diverse that you get a really BIG picture of ADR processes. What you learn in the presentations (though basic) can be quite useful practically though – you look at ADR in family law, tribunals/commissions, industry specific ADR, restorative justice and commercial DR.
The 2-day weekend work shop is a lot of fun! Aside from having to come in on a weekend from 9-5pm, you actually do a lot of practical exercises – a negotiation, mediation, communication skills, team mediation, personality tests etc. The work shop is really interesting because the practical activities actually reveal a lot about your friends and classmates. For example, you get to see how some people can be VERY aggressive/demanding in negotiations, which is quite funny if you’ve never really heard them speak up in class and all. There are some boring parts with theory and watching a video but otherwise it’s a fun weekend – and at the end, you’ll be closer to some people and won’t be able to stand others!
The 1 lecturer/tutor (Marilyn Scott) is a senior lecturer at UTS, so she’s quite experienced at teaching this subject. She’s an approachable lecturer and quite enthusiastic about ADR. However, she is not an easy marker. She’s unlikely to fail you, but she does expect a high standard since she’s been teaching the subject for quite a while. For example, the criteria for the Seminar Presentations is quite high and she won’t give you a Distinction easily.
Amount of Readings: 5/5
- Set Textbook: Fisher R, Ury W & Patton B, GETTING TO YES: NEGOTIATING AN AGREEMENT WITHOUT GIVING IN, Random Century Limited, 2nd ed, 1999
There’s pretty much NO readings in this subject. You can read the Getting to Yes book, but it’s not necessary at all. The lecturer also gives you some handout readings which cover theoretical ideas in ADR, but you can/not read them.
- Workshop Personal Report (10%): this is an easy 500 words reflection about your learning experience – what surprised you or interested you, whether the workshop exercises worked for you etc.
- Seminar Presentation (20%): there’s actually a whole checklist in the marking criteria for this, so you should put quite a bit of effort into this.
- Research Paper (50%): 3000 word research essay – you get to pick 1 out of 3 questions. Pretty standard assignment type.
- Advice on DR Processes (20%): this is quite a fun assignment – you have to design a user-friendly guide/tool to help lawyers determine which DR process suits your client’s needs! It actually turned out to be a LOT of work though.
There is NO exam! However, it is annoying that (for uni policy reasons) you don’t get your Research Paper or Advice on DR Processes back until next semester. So basically, you have no idea what mark you got for those assignments (70% total) until you find out your general mark when the semester results come out.
Also there is not much in the way of useful/constructive feedback for the assignments. You basically just get a tick-box marking sheet and 1 sentence of comments. It’s a bit disappointing after you write a 3000 word essay and put a lot of work into your advice, but it’s understandable given that there are 40 students (x 3000 words) and only 1 lecturer.
Cons of this Subject:
- The 2nd half of the semester seminars is JUST presentations – pretty boring.
- You have to attend a weekend workshop (9-5pm both days).
- The 4 assignments require quite a lot of work.
- You don’t really receive much (/any) feedback for your major assignments and you don’t find out your marks until the uni releases your final marks.