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Public Diplomacy




Admissions requirements

A 200-level course from the same track of the Major, preferably 20th Century Diplomatic History.


Public diplomacy has become a catch-phrase to refer to how nation-states reach out to, interact with, and try to influence global publics. They do this in order to enhance their reputation, further their economic interests, and promote their political agendas. Public diplomacy is also about building coalitions and networks as a way of enhancing traditional foreign policy tools.

This course will examine the history of public diplomacy through the twentieth century, looking at how nation-states developed it and which tools they used to practice it. The course will examine in detail particular aspects of public diplomacy strategy: media and broadcasting, exchange programmes, and cultural exhibitions and tours. It will also look at how public diplomacy, in a changing global environment, has become more important in relation to diplomacy as a whole.

Two key developments have contributed to the rising importance of public diplomacy. Firstly, public scrutiny and awareness of foreign policy has increased, partly motivated by the expansion of global media outlets. Secondly, advances in communications technology have affected how diplomacy is conducted, and what is expected of Foreign Ministries and diplomats. More effort needs to be made to display the purpose and achievements of diplomacy to critical publics.

This course will examine the context, theory, and practicalities of public diplomacy, as well as related fields such as soft power and propaganda. It will consider the differences between propaganda and public diplomacy, and the limitations to public diplomacy activity – what can it actually achieve. It will also consider efforts to assess the results of public diplomacy – to what extent is it measurable?

Course objectives

  • To understand key themes and approaches to public diplomacy

  • To gain insight into the history and development of public diplomacy

  • To appreciate the importance of public diplomacy within current-day global affairs

  • To develop a critical perspective when reading and analysing texts, source materials, and online environments

  • To be able to organise an independent research project, based on a research question, and complete a clearly-written research paper

  • To be able to formulate clear arguments in discussion and debate


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be conducted as a seminar-style class, involving sustained responsibility for the students in terms of reading, research, discussion and debate, and writing. A considerable amount of reading is required per week, and the class relies on everyone keeping up to date. Guest lectures will be provided on specific subjects, and it is especially essential to come prepared in order to interact fully with these experts. The course requires both individual and group assignments:


  • Webposts. Each student is required to submit an informal web posting before a designated class session. Five postings in total are required. Web postings are used to engage with that week’s topic, summing up and discussing one of the readings.

  • Report. This asks the student to search for and choose a particular nation branding strategy conducted by a particular nation-state, and write a report on its main features: types of communication; evident value-system; identifiable goals; judgement of impact.

  • Research Paper Proposal and Research Paper. This is the central part of the course’s assessment. It involves drawing up a research proposal to clearly lay out the main components of the paper (draft title, research question, description, justification, and draft source list). The proposal acts as a guide for writing the paper.


  • Project: Develop a PD Strategy. In small groups, the students will develop a public diplomacy strategy for a designated nation-state (or non-state actor) of their choice. This will be presented to the rest of the class in a presentation at the end of the course.


In-class participation 10%
Webposts (five, +/-300 words each) 20%
Report (+/- 1000 words) 15%
Research paper proposal (+/- 800 words) 10%
Research paper (+/- 3000 words) 30%
Group Project (Presentation) 15%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list



This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Prof. dr. Giles Scott-Smith