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Foreign Policy and Diplomacy


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Introduction to International Relations & Diplomacy is strongly recommended.


This course is designed for students interested in careers in international affairs. Taught by a former ambassador, the class focuses on the making of foreign policy and its implementation in the field. Students begin with a brief look at theories and history of international relations. The class will then turn to the actual practice of diplomacy, primarily in the United States but in Europe and beyond as well. In particular, the class will examine policy making in capitals, the role of the ambassador, the various functions within an embassy, diplomacy and the military, the role of espionage in diplomatic practice, and the differences between bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Towards the end of the class, students will participate in a series of roleplays involving real-life decision making, in effect performing as diplomats themselves. We hope to invite real life practitioners as guest lecturers as well. Students will be active participants in the learning process, with discussion, role playing, and student presentations contributing significantly to understanding of the subject.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe main theories of international relations

  • Depict the basic contours of the history of diplomacy

  • Explain the foreign policy making process, particularly drawing on the US example

  • Describe the role of diplomats in implementing foreign policy in the field

  • Make an informed decision about a future career in diplomacy


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, debate and discussion, role playing. Attendance in class is compulsory for all students.

Assessment Method

  • Class participation (15%) – All sessions

  • Mid-term paper on diplomatic practice in one country (25%) – Session 7

  • Role-Play preparation and performance (20%) – Sessions 11-13

  • Final paper on the importance of diplomacy in the modern world (40%) – Session 14

Reading list

Two works will serve as the required textbooks for the course:

  • Baylis, John, Steve Smith, Patricia Owens (2014) The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press (or later editions).

  • Constantinou, Costas, Pauline Kerr, Paul Sharp (2016), The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy, London: SAGE Publications.

Students will also read excerpts from:

  • Allison, Graham, Phillip Zelikow (1999) Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York: Longman.

  • Kissinger, Henry (1994), Diplomacy, New York: Simon and Schuster (or later editions)

Roleplays will come from the Council of Foreign Relations “Model Diplomacy” series, available on the internet at

Weekly readings will come from a variety of sources, mostly available online.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Jeff Hawkins,