module specification

GI5006A - 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 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio (2500 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explores the practice of modern diplomacy. It examines 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. A key theme is the evolving nature of international negotiation.

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 three 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.
3. It explores the activities of these actors in the context of negotiations concerning global issues such as international security.


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; the nature of multilateral diplomacy; the changing nature of international negotiation; diplomacy and 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 addition, the teaching programme will be interspersed at regular points with reflective three-hour ‘consolidation weeks’ (using the same rooms as the lecture/workshops and seminars, so part of the classes these weeks will take place in a large group, part in small groups), drawing together the knowledge of the previous weeks’ classes and applying that understanding to a case study, issue or text. There will also be a small 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; full use of the dedicated BlackBoard site for the module, including interactive use of the mail and discussion tools, lecture PowerPoint slides, full reading lists with hyperlinks, scanned copies of key texts not otherwise electronically available, and video and audio materials recorded by the tutor; and frequent emails from the tutor.

Reflective learning will be encouraged through the consolidation weeks, reflective blogging, practical activities and the regular interactive lectures, workshop activities and seminar discussions. Students will be required to attend all classes, to engage in the set activities, to prepare in advance by attempting assigned readings, to complete coursework ahead of deadlines, to collect their work once it has been marked and to act on the feedback they receive, and to post their reflections on group blogs at regular points throughout the year.

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 in London and guest lecturers; practical experience through role-play exercises and simulations; the enhancement of students’ writing skills through publicly accessible reflective blogging throughout the module; and the development of students’ skills of statistical analysis.

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. 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 2500-word portfolio comprising the students’ reflections on the main activities and themes of the module compiled over the course of the module, including their reflections on the success or otherwise of simulated negotiations, a diplomatic report on an issue of their choice, 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 engaged and learning throughout the module 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.


Berridge, G. R. (2015) Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 5th edition. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Berridge, G. R. (2012) Embassies in Armed Conflict. London: Continuum
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., 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
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: