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Diplomacy and Society


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course builds on the MIRD core module on diplomacy. It is meant to be a laboratory of ideas and you will also be exposed to practitioners’ perspectives. The practice of diplomacy is increasingly responding to societal trends at home and worldwide. We examine how diplomacy is enmeshed with society and how this has a revolutionary impact on practice. Among other topics you will evaluate the debate on the future of public diplomacy in light of current technological trends, the effects of ‘celebritisation’ and the rise of corporate actors. Field work is a substantial part of this course. You will engage with Dutch embassies and advise them on their public diplomacy strategy, which requires a great deal of commitment.

Course objectives

By the end of the course you 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 and field 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 seminar-based and you will be coached individually by the lecturer. During class discussions you are prepared to make a contribution and prepare class presentations and do field work in small groups. The aim of this course is to give students a better understanding of the fundamental ways in which change in government-society relations is impacting on diplomacy. You will find out as much through reading and discussion as by means of engagement with practitioners as guest speakers and interlocutors in your field work.

By the start of the course students are expected to have opened a Twitter account so as to facilitate classroom debate on cutting-edge topics and emerging political issues.

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 – 20%

  • Co-authored written assignment – 50%

  • Individual written assignment – 30%

Resit information for this course will be announced before the start of the course
The resit will take place 6th of June 2022.  

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.

Partial grades will remain valid for one academic year.

Reading list

Compulsory readings will be announced. Optional background reading:

  • The Hague Journal of Diplomacy special issue ‘Debating Public Diplomacy: Now and Next’ (14:1-2, 2019), pp. 7-197, and HJD Forum ‘Diplomacy after COVID-19’ (15:4, 2020), pp. 517-680.

  • Blogs and podcasts on the HJD media platform of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/hjd


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


Prof. Dr. J. Melissen j.melissen@fgga.leidenuniv.nl


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