module specification

GI6007 - Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Public Diplomacy and Global Communication
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay
Coursework 50%   Reflective Portfolio
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This cutting-edge module explores one of the most exciting and rapidly expanding fields of contemporary diplomatic studies and an area which has seen a wide variety of innovations in state practice in recent years. As public opinion has come to be seen as increasingly influential and important in world politics, states and other international actors have rediscovered public and cultural diplomacy, a form of diplomatic practice in which states engage with publics both abroad and at home. Due to changes in global communications, this form of diplomacy is undergoing rapid change, which makes it especially interesting and important.
The module examines the changing nature of public and cultural diplomacy in the context of the evolution of global political communications. It explores the nature of international political communication, evaluating key concepts such as propaganda, place branding and strategic communications, and examines the role of culture in world politics more broadly, including media such as film and the internet, as well as key actors such as celebrity diplomats. It explores competing definitions and interpretations of public and cultural diplomacy, along with how their practice has changed in recent decades, especially since the end of the Cold War.

Module aims

The module has the following aims:
  1. To examine the role of public diplomacy in world politics;
  2. To explore the public diplomacy strategies and techniques employed by states and other actors in the international system;
  3. To analyse the nature of contemporary international political communications;
  4. To survey the role of the media and the information society in contemporary world politics;
  5. To examine the role of non-state actors, such as celebrities, in global political communication.


Exploring public diplomacy, strategic communications, nation branding and propaganda;  the origins and evolution of public and cultural diplomacy;  the roles of diplomatic institutions and non-state actors in public diplomacy; the evolving nature of international political communication; the media and information society’s role in representing diplomacy and conflict; the setting of the media and communications agenda by states, international organisations and NGOs; celebrity diplomacy and goodwill ambassadors; the challenges of public diplomacy after 9/11; the public diplomacy of specific states and organisations, such as the UK, Canada, China and the EU.

Learning and teaching

Teaching will comprise weekly lectures and seminars. The seminar will involve small group discussions, debates and group work.

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, along with full use of the dedicated WebLearn site for the module.

Reflective and independent learning will be encouraged through reflective blogging and the regular interactive lectures 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 access markers’ comments on their work and act on the feedback they receive, and to post their reflections on group blogs at regular points throughout the year. The module will also develop students’ research and writing skills through publicly accessible reflective blogging throughout the module.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the changing nature of the global communications order and the place of states and other actors within it.
  2. Explain the role of the media in representing conflict and diplomacy.
  3. Evaluate the major theoretical and conceptual perspectives on public diplomacy and international political communication.
  4. Analyse the relationships between state and non-state actors in contemporary public diplomacy and international political communication.
  5. Apply their resulting analytical expertise to write and comment with authority on the subject of public diplomacy and global communication.

Assessment strategy

This module is assessed by two pieces of coursework: a 2500-word essay from a list of essay questions enabling students to explore in depth and detail a key aspect of the module; and a 3000-word portfolio comprising the students’ reflections on key themes of the module compiled over the course of the academic year.

Students will be required to post the first drafts of the individual entries making up the final portfolio on a publicly accessible group blog. This allows the tutors to ensure that they are engaging with the module and learning throughout the year as well as enabling the tutors and other students to comment on their work in progress, so formative assessment and feedback will take place across the whole module. Students will be required to independently research interesting issues and events illustrating the key themes of the module for their entries on the blog.

Formal formative assessment and feedback will take place through tutor feedback on each student’s work on the blog.



Alleyne, M. D. (2003) Global Lies? Propaganda, the UN and the World Order. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Arndt, R. (2007) The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books
Bound, K., Briggs, R., Holden, J. and Jones, S. (2007) Cultural Diplomacy. London: Demos
Cooper, A. F. (2008) Celebrity Diplomacy. Boulder, CO: Paradigm
Constantinou, C., Kerr, P. and Sharp, P. (eds) (2016), The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy. London: SAGE.
Copeland, D. and Potter, E.H. (2008) ‘Public Diplomacy and Conflict Zones: Military Information Operations Meet Political Counter-Insurgency.’ The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 3, No. 3
Cowan, G. and Cull, N. (eds) (2008) Public Diplomacy in a Changing World. London: SAGE
Cull, N. (2012) The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy, 1989-2001. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Curtis, S. and Jaine, C. (2012) ‘Public Diplomacy at Home in the UK: Engaging Diasporas and Preventing Terrorism’, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 7, No. 4
Finn, H. (2003) ‘The Case for Cultural Diplomacy.’ Foreign Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 6
Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N. (1988) Manufacturing Consent. New York: Pantheon Books
Iosifidis, P., & Wheeler, M. (2016) Public Spheres and Mediated Social Networks in the Western Context and Beyond. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Leonard, M. (2002) Public Diplomacy. London: Foreign Policy Centre
Melissen, J. (ed.) (2005) The New Public Diplomacy. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Pamment, J. (2016) British Public Diplomacy and Soft Power: Diplomatic Influence and the Digital Revolution. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Pigman, G. and A. Deos (2008) ‘Consuls for Hire: Private Actors, Public Diplomacy.’ Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 4, No. 1
Rugh, W. A. (2014) Front Line Public Diplomacy: How US Embassies Communicate with Foreign Publics. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Snow, N. and P. Taylor (eds) (2009) The Routledge Public Diplomacy Handbook. London: Routledge
Taylor, P. M. (1997) Global Communications: International Affairs and the Media since 1945. London: Routledge
Tsaliki, L., Huliaras, A. and Frangonikolopoulos, C.A. (eds) (2011) Transnational Celebrity Activism in Global Politics Changing the World? Bristol: Intellect
USC Center on Public Diplomacy:
Wheeler, M. (2011) ‘Celebrity Diplomacy: United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace.’ Celebrity Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1.
Wheeler, M. (2013) Celebrity Politics: Image and Identity in Modern Political Communications. Cambridge: Polity