module specification

GI5006 - Diplomacy Old and New (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Diplomacy Old and New
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio (4500 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explores the practice of modern diplomacy. The first half of the module explores the historical emergence and evolution of diplomacy and the classic texts of diplomatic theory, before going on to concentrate on the roles and functions of traditional diplomatic institutions, systems and processes, such as embassies, foreign ministries, diplomatic services and international organisations.

The second half of the module explores the main challenges posed to diplomatic practice by global change in recent decades: the rise of inclusive multilateral diplomacy in the UN and other fora; the increasing importance of non-state actors in contemporary diplomacy; the impact of faster air travel enabling leaders to conduct their own diplomacy; the revolution in information and communications technology; and innovations in diplomatic institutions (such as the emergence of the European External Action Service).

A key theme running through the whole module is the evolving nature of international negotiation, which will be illustrated through detailed case studies of environmental, security and trade diplomacy.

This is a highly practical module. Students will have opportunities to develop their ability to blog and use Twitter, engage in simulated negotiations and interact with practitioners through visits to embassies and other institutions and/or practitioner classes.

Module aims

This module has four principal aims:

  1. It examines the historical development and evolution of diplomacy, from the ancient world to the modern era.
  2. It explores the institutions of traditional bilateral diplomacy, primarily embassies and foreign ministries, evaluating their functions and contemporary significance. It discusses the impact of the revolution in information technology and rapid air travel on these institutions.
  3. It analyses the emergence and significance of NGOs, transnational corporations and other non-state actors and examines their interaction with states in bilateral and multilateral settings.
  4. It explores the activities of these actors in the context of negotiations concerning global issues such as trade, security and the environment.


Approaches to the study of diplomacy; the historical emergence and evolution of diplomacy; bilateral diplomacy in theory and practice; the formation and structure of diplomatic services; the debate over the benefits of old vs. new forms of diplomacy; diplomacy and the revolution in information and communications technology; the nature of multilateral diplomacy; the diplomacy of international organisations; public and cultural diplomacy; the diplomacy of non-state actors; the changing nature of international negotiation; trade diplomacy; environmental diplomacy; diplomacy and contemporary security challenges.

Learning and teaching

Most weeks teaching will consist of a two-hour combined lecture and workshop and a one-hour seminar. Each lecture/workshop will comprise an interactive lecture and an activity undertaken by small groups, with the result of these activities fed back in a plenary session towards the end of the two-hour session. The seminar will involve small group discussions, debates and group work. In other weeks there will also be a number of simulations and role-play activities exploring the nature of negotiation and practical strategies that can be employed.
The module makes extensive use of blended learning, including: reflective writing on publicly accessible blogs by students throughout the module, with the requirement that they comment on each other’s postings; the use of Twitter to share information and explore its diplomatic uses; full use of the dedicated WebLearn site for the module.

Reflective learning will be encouraged through blogging, practical activities and the regular interactive lectures, workshop activities and seminar discussions.

Although it is concerned with the academic study of diplomacy, this is a very practically-oriented module which provides students with a range of opportunities to enhance their employability. They include: interaction with serving and/or former practitioners through visits to embassies and other institutions in London and/or guest lecturers; practical experience of negotiation through role-play exercises and simulations; the enhancement of students’ writing skills through report writing and publicly accessible reflective blogging throughout the module; and the development of students’ understanding of the professional uses of Twitter.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Understand the key historical developments in the nature of diplomacy.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of diplomacy in world politics and explain the changing nature of diplomatic institutions and processes.
  3. Analyse the relationships between states and non-state actors in explaining outcomes in contemporary international relations.
  4. Apply their resulting analytical expertise to write and comment with authority on the subject of diplomacy in contemporary world politics.

Assessment strategy

This module is assessed by a 4500-word portfolio comprising the students’ reflections on the main activities and themes of the module compiled over the course of the academic year, including their reflections on the success or otherwise of simulated negotiations, a diplomatic report on an issue of their choice, a comparative analysis of Twitter use by two diplomats or embassies, and a number of blog posts on the key themes of the module.

Students will be required to present in class their first attempts at the diplomatic report and reflections on the simulated negotiation and to post the first drafts of their blog entries on a publicly accessible group blog. This allows the tutor to ensure that students are engaging with the module and learning throughout the year as well as enabling the tutor and other students to comment on their work in progress, so formative assessment and feedback will take place across the whole module. More formal formative assessment and feedback will take place through tutor feedback on each student’s work on the blog over the course of the module.


Bayne, N. and Woolcock, S. (eds) (2016) The New Economic Diplomacy: Decision-Making and Negotiation in International Economic Relations, 4th edition. London: Routledge
Benedick, R. E. (1998) Ozone Diplomacy, 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Berridge, G. R. (2015) Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 5th edition. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Berridge, G. R. (2012) Embassies in Armed Conflict. London: Continuum
Betsill, M. and Corell, E. (eds) (2008) NGO Diplomacy: The Influence of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Environmental Negotiations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Bjola, C. and Murray, S. (eds) (2016) Secret Diplomacy: Concepts, Contexts and Cases. London: Routledge
Cooper, A. F., Heine, J. and Thakur, R. (eds) (2013) The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Cooper, A. F., Hocking, B. and Maley, W. (eds) (2008) Diplomacy and Global Governance. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Constantinou, C.M., Kerr, P. and Sharp, P. (eds) (2016) The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy. London: SAGE
Fletcher, T. (2016) Naked Diplomacy: Power and Statecraft in the Digital Age. London: William Collins
Hamilton, K. and Langhorne, R. (2010) The Practice of Diplomacy, 2nd edition. London: Routledge
Hocking, B. and Melissen, J. (2015) ‘Diplomacy in the Digital Age’, Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations, available at
Hocking, B., Melissen, J., Riordan, S. and Sharp, P. (2012) ‘Futures for Diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century’, Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations, available at
Hoffman, J. (2003) ‘Reconstructing Diplomacy.’ The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 5, No. 4
Leguey-Feilleux, J-R. (2009) The Dynamics of Diplomacy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner
Melissen, J. (ed.) (1999) Innovation in Diplomatic Practice. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Pigman, G. A. (2010) Contemporary Diplomacy. Cambridge: Polity
Rana, K. (2011) 21st Century Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Guide. London: Continuum
Riordan, S. (2003) The New Diplomacy. Cambridge: Polity
Roberts, I. (ed.) (2009) Satow’s Diplomatic Practice, 6th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Talbott, S. (1997) ‘Globalization and Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Perspective.’ Foreign Policy, Fall

British Diplomatic Oral History Programme, Churchill College Cambridge:
Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School: