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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 trends in wider society. This elective course builds on 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 challenging it. It will analyse the theoretical concept of soft power, which is underpinning 21st century public diplomacy aimed at people rather than governments. The course will compare public diplomacy and cultural relations in East Asia and the Western world and as it is practised by different types of international actors. Central in this module is the question how recent technological developments, including the rise of social media and other digital tools, empower different diplomatic actors – people, governments, and companies. Do emerging digital technologies contribute to a transformation of diplomacy? The course will also discuss another recent communication issue: in our present society we see new challenges like “fake news” reflecting a diplomatic environment in which elite opinion and scientific knowledge no longer seem to have their earlier political currency.

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. 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 feel for communication issues in diplomacy by means of classroom interaction with at least one 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:

  • Oral presentation – 1/3

  • Co-authored written assignment – 1/3

  • Individual written assignment – 1/3


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. Jan Melissen

Ragnhild Drange


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