Promoting a stronger culture of non-litigious dispute resolution is the aim of two new postgraduate programs at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

UNSW's Law Faculty has launched a Master of Dispute Resolution - the first such program to be offered by a Go8 University. It will also introduce a dispute resolution specialisation within its Master of Laws program.

Both are designed to fill the current gap in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) education in NSW.

The programs, to begin in 2010, support calls from the NSW Attorney General for a greater emphasis on ADR training throughout the professional life of lawyers - from undergraduate studies through to judicial office. Pointing to increasing dissatisfaction with the cost, speed and adversarial nature of litigation, the Attorney General recently released a discussion paper seeking input into the best ways to encourage delivery of ADR services.

UNSW's LLM specialisation will allow lawyers to develop a dispute resolution focus within their field of practice, while the Master of Dispute Resolution provides a comprehensive, academically rigorous program for lawyers and non-lawyers seeking a specialist postgraduate qualification in dispute resolution theory and practice.

Coordinator of the Master of Dispute Resolution program, Dr Rosemary Howell, said demand for ADR skills was increasing. "Courts, governments and the community continue to press for more effective means of resolving disputes," Dr Howell said.

"Professionals of all disciplines need to build repertoire, engage in rigorous debate and contribute to the development of tools and skills. Our program is relevant to anyone keen to enhance their contribution to ADR's expansion into all areas of our lives."

For more information: Associate Professor Brendan Edgeworth, Head of School of Law, 9385 2862; Dr Rosemary Howell, Visiting Fellow UNSW Faculty of Law, 02 9380 2500 or 0413010137; Steve Offner, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 8107 or 0424 580 208.