nl en

Diplomacy and Society


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course builds on the MIRD core module on diplomacy. The practice of diplomacy increasingly focuses on people and is responding to societal trends at home and worldwide. We examine different ways in which in particular communication-related issues are challenging 21st century diplomatic practice. The course will look at the evolution of public diplomacy, and students evaluate the debate on the future of public diplomacy in light of current technological trends, including the rise of social media. The impact of populism and fake news on diplomacy as well as the effects of ‘celebritization’ and the rise of corporate actors are also subject to scrutiny. In their field work students will engage with practitioners in the Hague corps diplomatique and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This course has been subject to a name change - students should not take this module if they have already completed Diplomacy and Communication.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will have:

  • A sound knowledge of the most important communication-related debates and practices in contemporary diplomacy.

  • A critical understanding of key theoretical concepts and debates.

  • Improved writing skills aimed at a wider readership and including writing concisely.

  • Honed group work skills.

  • Learned how to deal with 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. with the lecturer in an intensive student coaching role. During class discussions all students make a contribution, they will prepare class work in small groups, and they will do an assessed writing assignment. The aim of this course is to give students a better understanding of communication issues in diplomacy and the fundamental ways in which change in government-society relations is impacting on the work of diplomats.

Study load: 140 hours

Assessment method

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

  • Oral presentation in mini-conference format – 33.33%

  • Co-authored written assignment – 33.33%

  • Individual written assignment – 33.34%

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.

Reading list

Compulsory readings will be announced. Optional background reading:

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

  • Volker Stanzel (Ed.), New Realities in Foreign Affairs: Diplomacy in the 21st Century, Berlin: SWP Research Paper 11, 2018, 69 pp.


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


Prof. Dr. J. Melissen


This course is an elective course designed for MIRD students.
This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.