SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

General Diplomatic Studies & Practice

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is designed to equip students considering international careers with a thorough understanding of diplomatic practices, issues and policy problems in the post-Cold War world and a core set of relevant professional skills.

In term one, the course teaches contemporary international diplomatic practice, through an examination of key international issues.  The course seeks to go beyond traditional conceptions of diplomacy (ie. as the preserve of states) by investigating the emergence and activities of new actors, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), multinational corporations, armed groups, international experts and technocrats, and private citizens.  By examining the global activities of these actors against a background of more traditional (inter-state) diplomatic practice, the course asks whether they deserve consideration as the ‘new ambassadors of the Post-Cold War Era’.  Exploring the evolution of international diplomacy, the course, taught by CISD faculty and senior diplomacy practitioners, examines the practices of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, preventive diplomacy and the efforts of conflict resolution actors (‘track two diplomacy’).

In term two, the course teaches a set of diplomatic skills through a series of group practical exercises and role-playing in carefully designed international scenarios which draw actively on SOAS’s expertise on Asia and Africa.  Training is jointly undertaken by serving and former diplomats, NGO experts and CISD faculty.  Key skill sets taught include:

  • Foreign policy analysis
  • Negotiation in bilateral and conference settings
  • Conflict/dispute mediation
  • Speech writing

This course is only available to students on the International Studies and Diplomacy programme. Lectures take place at 6pm.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Excellent foundational knowledge of diplomacy theory, including bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, preventive diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, and non-state diplomatic practice (NGOs, corporations, armed groups etc) including ‘track two’ (conflict resolution) diplomacy
  • Sound knowledge of contemporary diplomatic practices in relation to key international issues
  • Ability to effectively conduct foreign policy analysis, international advocacy, conflict/dispute mediation and negotiation
  • Ability to draft high-quality policy briefs, plan advocacy strategies, including the effective use of media, and participate in negotiation and meditation processes


The course will be taught over 20 weeks. Term one will be taught through one 90 minute lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week. Term two includes day long workshops held on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Method of assessment

  • Assessment one (2-3000 word diplomacy theory assignment); 20%
  • Assessment two (2-3000 word policy/advocacy analysis); 25%
  • Assessment three (learning diary); 15%
  • Unseen written examination; 40%

Suggested reading

  • T.J. Christensen Worse than a Monolith:  Alliance Politics and Problems of Coercive Diplomacy in Asia  (Princeton University Press, 2011)
  • G.R. Berridge, Diplomacy:  Theory and Practice 4th edn, (Palgrave-Macmillan: Basingstoke and New York, 2010)
  • Joseph S. Nye, Jr.  Future of Power:  And Use in the Twenty-first Century  (PublicAffairs, 2011)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules