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Diplomacy: Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This introduction to diplomacy aims to contribute to students’ understanding of key debates about contemporary diplomacy. In particular, the course looks at trends in diplomacy and the diplomatic machinery’s adaptation to change. It will touch upon diplomacy in the context of International Relations theory, discuss innovation processes at different governance levels, and examine fast-moving change in the practice of diplomacy. In the first part of the 21st century, diplomacy’s changing modes and new functions present a picture that goes far beyond traditional notions of the conduct of international relations. Each generation needs to meet new demands of diplomacy, and organizational adaptation to fast-changing practices is a particular challenge. During the eight sessions of this course, students will get a better idea of how academia and government debate change in diplomacy today. They will focus on topics including the history of diplomacy, recent theory on diplomacy, summit diplomacy, consular diplomacy dealing with the security of citizens abroad, the role of NGOs in diplomacy today, and the change from state-to-state to networked diplomacy.

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.


See the front page of this programme

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. They will also be required to do an assessed writing assignment. The aim of this course is to give students a better feel for the governmental perspective on diplomacy by means of classroom interaction with a practitioner.

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 – 1/3

  • Co-authored opinion article – 1/3

  • Individual writing assignment – 1/3

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.


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 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. Jan Melissen Ragnhild Drange