Show/hide main menu


7AAICC45 Conflict, Diplomacy and International Relations

Module convenor: Dr Melissa Nisbett
Credits: 20
Teaching pattern: Ten two-hour interactive class
Module description:

This module is about politics and power. Over the ten weeks, we look at the
intersections between international relations, policy and culture. Since
ancient times, culture has been used strategically within international
relations for both positive and negative means: from forging relationships and
fostering understanding, to asserting power and symbolising dissonance. Changes at a socio-political level have an inevitable impact on the cultural landscape. We explore a range of themes and topics, drawing on a variety of international examples and case studies to analyse the issues, challenges, threats and opportunities that global politics presents to the production, presentation, communication and consumption of culture. 

Module aims

This module aims to introduce students to a range of key concepts and terms such as cultural diplomacy, soft power, and cultural imperialism. It provides a critical engagement with these concepts, drawing on reading from cultural policy studies, political science, history, sociology, and cultural studies.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will develop a theoretical, conceptual, methodological and empirical framework for understanding cultural diplomacy and related terms.
  • Students will develop the ability to examine and critically analyse the contested terrain of cultural diplomacy in relation to other paradigms.
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of how changes at a socio-political level inevitably have an impact on the production and consumption of culture.
  • Students will develop a range of study skills including critical thinking, reading and reflection.

Core reading

  • Ang, I; Isar, Y.R and Mar, P (2015) Cultural Diplomacy: Beyond the National Interest? International Journal of Cultural Policy, 21:4, pp.365-381.
  • Appadurai, A (1990) Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.7, 295-310.
  • Bell, E (2016) Soft Power and Corporate Imperialism: Maintaining British Influence, Race and Class, Vol. 57 (4) 75-86.
  • Bernays, E (1928) Propaganda, Chapter 4: The Psychology of Public Relations, pp.71-82.
  • Bound, K; Briggs, R; Holden J and Jones, S (2007) Cultural Diplomacy - Culture is a central component of international relations, London: Demos.
  • Harvey, D (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 3: The Neoliberal State, pp.64-86.
  • Hocking, B. Rethinking the ‘New’ Public Diplomacy. Chapter 2 in Melissen, J (2005) The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.28-43.
  • Keene, A. (2016) ‘Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh.’ Blog post, available at:
  • Melissen, J. The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice. Chapter 1 in Melissen, J (2005) The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.3-27.
  • Rowling, J.K. (2016) ‘History of Magic in North America’ (Part 1), available at:

  • Said, E (1994) 'Empire, Geography and Culture' & 'Images of the Past, Pure and Impure', from Culture and Imperialism, London: Vintage, pp. 1-20.


This module will be assessed by a 4,000 word essay. Students must choose ONE theme (e.g. Disney, Mexican art, Leninism) as the focus of their essay and critically appraise it with reference to THREE TOPICS(e.g. cultural diplomacy, cultural imperialism, soft power, cosmopolitanism, conflict) covered during the module. This assignment is to be presented as an essay. However, students are encouraged to include additional materials such as newspaper cuttings, photographs, drawings, sketches or diagrams etc. to illustrate and elaborate.

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454