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Diplomacy: Communication, Tech and Misinformation


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


Diplomacy is increasingly focused on people and responding to communication trends in the global information sphere. This elective course can be seen as an extension of the introductory compulsory module “Diplomacy: Theory and Practice”. It examines different ways in which new communication-related issues are at the heart of diplomacy today and are indeed shaking up conventional practices. We will analyse soft power theory, which is underpinning 21st century public diplomacy aimed at people rather than governments, and the concept of network power. The course will compare public diplomacy and cultural relations in Western and East-Asian settings. Another important question to be discussed is the impact of recent technological developments, including the rise of social media and other digital tools. The course will alsocritically discuss “fake news” reflecting a diplomatic environment in which elite opinion no longer seems to have its earlier political currency. In this turbulent landscape, the challenges for big companies in international relations will be scrutinized and we will explore the characteristics and functions of science diplomacy.

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.


See the link at the front page of this programme.

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 reflection fast-moving change in society.

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:

  • Oral presentation – 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.


The course will make use of Blackboard and an interactive classroom tool. 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.

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.)
*Brian Hocking and Jan Melissen, Diplomacy in the Digital Age, The Hague: Clingendael Institute, 2015,


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Prof. Dr. J. Melissen


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