SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

General Diplomatic Studies

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module will explore the instruments and strategies of diplomacy and asks what role power plays in diplomacy. It will consider the significance of multilateralism in diplomacy and how this has changed since the end of the Cold War. It examines coercive diplomacy, the potential of preventative diplomacy and also explores the role changing technologies have in transforming diplomacy.
Secondly, the module asks how traditional concepts of diplomacy (understood as an activity of states) have been affected by the democratisation and globalisation of diplomacy. It investigates the role of NGOs, International Courts, Corporate actors, and other non-state actors and activities in shaping diplomacy. The course examines international interactions of such groups against a background of more traditional (inter-state) diplomatic practice.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

• Throughout this module students will gain an understanding of classical understandings of diplomacy and its components in tension with the contemporary world.
• At the end of this module students will be able to independently and critically analyse world events for their diplomatic implications.
• They will have a broad understanding of various modes of diplomacy. (Bilateral, multilateral, crisis, summitry, institutional).
• They will appreciate the differences and implications of different but overlapping forums of diplomacy (the embassy, cyberspace, popular, corporate, celebrity).
• They will be able to critically appraise various approaches to the ‘national interest’ and the resulting policy implications including the tools of ‘power’ at a states disposal.
• Students will also have encountered the disciplinary limits to the study of diplomacy, the silencing impact of theories and practices as well as the reach of critiques emanating from discourse analysis, gender studies and post-colonial approaches.


The module will be taught over 10 weeks with one 1 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week.

Method of assessment

• Assignment (2000 words); 80%
• E-Tivity (500 Words); 20%

Suggested reading

No set textbook - Alison Holmes and Simon Rofe (eds.), Global Diplomacy (Westview 2016), Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman, Diplomacy in a Globalizing World (Oxford University Press, 2012) T covers a lot of ground including some history, concepts, international relations and many detailed diplomatic issues and questions.

Additional Reading

• Hedley Bull and Adam Watson (eds), The Expansion of International Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).
• Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006).
• Anthony Pagden, Worlds at War: The 2,500 Year Struggle Between East and West (Oxford: OUP, 2009).
• John M Hobson, The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory, 1760-2012 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
• Raymond Cohen and Raymond Westbrook (eds.) Amarna Diplomacy: The Beginnings of International Relations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2000).
• John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire since 1405 (London: Allen Lane, 2007).
• C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Connections and Comparisons (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004).
• Robert Tignor et. al., Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the Modern World from the Mongol Empire to the Present (Norton & Co, 2002)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules