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Futures for Diplomacy



This introduction to diplomacy aims to contribute to students’ understanding of debates about contemporary diplomacy. In particular, the course looks at trends in diplomacy and the diplomatic machinery’s adaptation to change. It will touch upon diplomacy in the context of International Relations theory, discuss innovation processes in diplomatic practice and debate fast-moving change in the conduct of international relations. Its new functions and changing modes present a picture that goes far beyond traditional notions of the conduct of international relations. Each generation needs to meet new demands of diplomacy, and organizational adaptation to today’s networked diplomacy and the demands of societal and technological change is a particular challenge. During the eight sessions of this course, students will get a better idea of how academia and government see change at the beginning of the 21st century. They will focus on topics including public diplomacy, the impact of digitalization on diplomacy, consular diplomacy, summit diplomacy, and the change from state-to-state to networked diplomacy.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will have:

  • A complex understanding of the institutions and processes by which states and others represent themselves and their interests to one another.

  • Become familiar with the way in which diplomacy is studied and debated, not only in academia but also in think tanks and foreign ministries.

  • Evaluated recent trends in diplomatic practice in relation to issues in world politics.

  • Improved contrasting writing skills, with essay and opinion article assignments.

  • Honed group work skills, in particular field work based on research interviews.

  • Learned how to deal with the pressures of short-notice assignments.


On the MIRD frontpage of the E-guide you will find a link to the timetable.

Mode of instruction

The course will be entirely seminar-based. During class discussions all students make a contribution, and they give an oral presentation. They will be required to do an assignment in small groups that combines desk research with field work, based on interviewing. During the course they will interact with diplomatic practitioners, so as to give them a better feel for the governmental perspective on diplomacy. Students will engage in a special brainstorm exercise aimed at creative academic thinking.The course will make limited use of social media.

Course Load

5 EC

Assessment method

The final mark for this course is based on four equal components testing knowledge, and oral and written academic skills:

  • Individual class presentation based on desk research – 25%

  • Assessed essay – 25%

  • Opinion article – 25%

  • Group presentation based on field work – 25%


The lecturer will communicate directly with the group. One student will act as liaison.The lecturer will use email and Twitter.

Reading list

Two recommended textbooks now both in paperback. During the course they will only be used as supplementary texts. Compulsory readings will be distributed:

  • Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman (eds), Diplomacy and Globalization: Theories and Practices, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

  • Andrew F. Cooper, Jorge Heine, Ramesh Thakur (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.





The Hague Journal of Diplomacy is a peer-reviewed journal co-edited by the course lecturer with many articles of interest for this course.