nl en

Diplomacy: Introduction to Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This introduction to diplomacy compensates for the neglect of the study of diplomacy in many IR curricula, whilst diplomacy is arguably the engine room of international relations. The course aims to contribute to students’ understanding of diplomacy, i.e. the institutions and processes by which states and others represent themselves and their interests to one another. More specifically, this course will look at selected trends in contemporary diplomacy, the diplomatic machinery’s adaptation to change, and new issues on the diplomatic agenda. Students are encouraged to reflect on the practice and theoretical aspects of diplomacy and how academics and practitioners debate trends in diplomacy. The course will discuss innovation and adaptation to change in a fast-moving international environment. New functions and modes of diplomacy at the beginning of the digital age present a picture that requires us to take a new look at the conduct of international relations today.

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 debated among academic theorists and by experts in think tanks and practitioners.

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

  • improved writing skills aimed at writing opinion articles.

  • honed group work skills.

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


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

The course will be entirely seminar-based. During class discussions all students make a contribution, and they give an assessed oral presentation as presenter or discussant. They will also be required to do two contrasting writing assignments, of which one is single authored and the other co-authored.

Course Load

5 EC

Assessment method

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

  • individual presentation or discussant role – 33.33%

  • co-authored opinion article – 33.33%

  • individual writing assignment – 33.34%

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the front page of the programme you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.


The course will make use of Blackboard and an interactive classroom tool. Twitter will be used to share information and monitor debates on innovation in diplomatic practice.

Reading list

Compulsory readings will be announced. One textbook and two handbooks are recommended for selective supplementary reading:

  • Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman (eds), Diplomacy and Globalization: Theories and Practices, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017 (second ed.).

  • Costas M. Constantinou, Pauline Kerr and Paul Sharp (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy, Los Angeles etc: SAGE, 2016.

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


Use Blackboard to register for every course. The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division.


Prof. Dr. J. Melissen