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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: Negotiation (BUST10039)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryOwing to high demand, in each academic session Negotiation will have a quota applied to the course which will result in a random selection of qualified applicants.

The random selection will be conducted at 3pm on the Friday preceding the first teaching day of the semester - this will allow students to choose alternate courses should this be necessary. This means that students should have registered for the course (or emailed Professor Brian Main to that effect) before the deadline.

Any free spaces will be allocated at the first lecture (using the same algorithm among these second-round applicants).

Attendance at the first lecture is a condition of entry to the class.

This course addresses an area where many resource allocation decisions depend not on the outcome of market forces but on the interplay of bargaining between two or more groups. Such situations may be found in purchasing a car, a carpet, or a house; in contracting for the services of a painter, a builder, or a plumber; in determining the terms and conditions of one's individual employment; in corporate take-overs; in union-management agreements concerning groups of workers; in free trade agreements within groups of countries; in divorce settlements; in setting regulatory conditions; in determining the location of an environmentally dangerous facility; and in many other areas of resource allocation.
Course description Some of the important considerations that bear on such situations have long been understood in economics, e.g. the concept of reservation price. Others are only now being addressed. These new developments principally concern game theory and can be traced back to the work of Thomas Schelling as summarised in his The Strategy of Conflict. More recent examples of this line of work can be found in Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff's Thinking Strategically. It has to be emphasised that this is not a course in game theory and does not pursue the theoretical approach. The approach we will adopt here is more behavioural and applied.

This course attempts to recognise that the proper understanding of negotiation requires we go beyond the traditional boundaries of economics and management science, and address notions of bounded rationality, biases in decision making, social influence etc. What is outlined here is not a course in game theory. This course will place much greater emphasis on bounded rationality. It will also make extensive use of role playing and group based simulations. There will, therefore, be a substantial "practical" component to the teaching.


1. Determining price and value; BATNA; zone of agreement; focal point; the canonical distributive bargaining case.
2. Perceptions and biases; framing; anchoring; escalation.
3. Strategic behaviour - two parties; commitment; integrative versus distributive negotiation.
4. Strategic behaviour - more than two issues; more than two parties; coalitions.
5. Bargaining over positions versus principles.
6. Third parties; facilitators, mediators, arbitrators and rule manipulators; negotiating via information technology.
7. Negotiation in the Shadow of the Law.
8. Strikes.
9. Environmental conflict resolution.
10. Ethics of negotiation; fairness; lies versus 'strategic misrepresentations'.
11. Negotiation and culture; Body Language.
12. Electronic Negotiation

Student Learning Experience

Negotiation cases and simulations form an important part of the course. In each case you will be asked to sign-up for a particular role in a case, e.g. the buyer of a used car. You will then be assigned to a "team", e.g. matched up with the seller of a used car. Each team will have a physical area in which they can negotiate in privacy. Sometimes the lecture theatre itself will suffice. At other times you will be free to break out into other spaces. Combining these exercises with a coffee break is fine (and, indeed, we shall see that social interaction plays an important part in negotiation), but please maintain your focus on the exercise at hand and return to the lecture theatre by the deadline set. Late returns to class will miss the all-important 'de-briefing' component of the learning exercise.

Even more so than in other courses, attendance is essential. As an important part of learning in this course comes through the role playing exercises you are strongly advised to attend all teaching and learning sessions. Any student who, for whatever reason, fails to attend three or more of the teaching and learning sessions is advised to drop the course in favour of some alternative.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Business Honours entry
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  48
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment is in the form of one component of course work and a two-hour degree examination.

The element of course work comprises an in-class multiple choice test to be held in week 10 (30% of final grade).

Students will be awarded the better of EITHER the weighted average of the multiple-choice test mark (30%) and the final degree exam (70%) OR the final degree exam only (100%).

For the multiple-choice test, a sample test is provided at the end of the course booklet and we will go over the correct answers in class near the end of the semester. Negative marking will be utilised in the multiple choice test. The test itself will take place in the final Negotiation class session of the semester.

The degree examination is a two-hour examination that will require students to answer two out of four questions. The degree examination will be integrative, in the sense that, where appropriate and relevant, students will be rewarded for displaying knowledge of more than one lecture topic in the answer to each question. This means that the practice of concentrating on three or four topics out of the whole course is strongly discouraged here. Please, be warned.
Feedback Finalised examination marks will be posted on Learn (together with generic feedback and examination statistics) as soon as possible after the Board of Examiners' meeting.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand some of the economic theories that are relevant to the negotiation process.
  2. Understand and discuss critically components of the negotiation process.
  3. Apply the principles of the negotiation process to negotiation in practice.
  4. Understand and apply the concept of bounded rationality.
Reading List
The principal text for the course is:

Leigh Thompson, The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, Prentice Hall, Pearson; 7th edition Global Edition (2021), OR there are earlier editions that serve equally well. Clearly newer is better.
Main Library (HUB SHORT LOAN) - Ground floor Shelfmark: HD58.6 Tho.

Alternative texts which cover some aspects of the course are:

Howard Raiffa, John Richardson and David Metcalfe, Negotiation Analysis, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002, pp548. (STANDARD LOAN - 2nd floor HD58.6 Rai.)
Howard Raiffa, The Art and Science of Negotiation, Harvard University Press, 1982, 373pp.,Main Library [SHORT LOAN] - Shelfmark: BF637.N4 Rai.
Max H Bazerman and Margaret A Neale, Negotiating Rationally, New York: Free Press. 1992 (.3011554 Baz)

An entertaining and insightful background overview of the area is available in:

Kennedy, Gavin (1989, 1994), Everything is Negotiable. Hutchinson (Short loan: BF637.N4Ken or .311.116Ken).

Resource List:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Understand how to manage and sustain successful individual and group relationships in order to achieve positive and responsible outcomes, in a range of virtual and face-to-face environments.
2. Understand oneself and others, through critical reflection, diversity awareness and empathic development, in order to maximise individual and collective resilience, and personal and professional potential.
3. Act with integrity, honesty and trust in all business stakeholder relationships, and apply ethical reasoning to effective decision making, problem solving and change management.
4. Convey meaning and message through a wide range of communication tools, including digital technology and social media; to understand how to use these tools to communicate in ways that sustain positive and responsible relationships.
5. Critically evaluate and present digital and other sources, research methods, data and information; discern their limitations, accuracy, validity, reliability and suitability; and apply responsibly in a wide variety of organisational contexts.
6. Be self-motivated; curious; show initiative; set, achieve and surpass goals; as well as demonstrating adaptability, capable of handling complexity and ambiguity, with a willingness to learn; as well as being able to demonstrate the use of digital and other tools to carry out tasks effectively, productively, and with attention to quality.
7. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of contemporary organisational disciplines; comprehend the role of business within the contemporary world; and critically evaluate and synthesise primary and secondary research and sources of evidence in order to make, and present, well informed and transparent organisation-related decisions, which have a positive global impact.
8. Identify, define and analyse theoretical and applied business and management problems, and develop approaches, informed by an understanding of appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative techniques, to explore and solve them responsibly.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Brian Main
Tel: (0131 6)50 8360
Course secretaryMs Heather Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8074
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