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Diplomacy (Module)

Module description

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.


Diplomacy since the end of the cold war has become increasingly complex and subject to rapid change. Underlying these changes are shifts in the distribution of political power to New Economic Powers and corresponding decline of traditional powers. In addition , distinctive features of the diplomatic setting are the variety of new regional organisations and diplomatic groupings ( open and covert ) ; and the spread of transnational violence . Diplomacy has altered significantly in style; methods; technical content and purposes. This module, in analysing the nature of contemporary diplomacy, will focus on questions of contested norms and values; the breakdown of under-standings about the nature of international order; and, developments in diplomatic practice. Evolving Diplomatic strategy and methods are examined in four contexts ( political – strategic crisis ; multilateral conferences ( trade , finance, environment ; maritime ) ; transnational violence and the impact of new actors.

The aims of the module are to:

  • Provide a clear understanding of the nature of contemporary diplomacy; evolution and conduct in modern international relations post 1945.
  • Analyse core concepts relating to the conduct of diplomacy, including norms and values in diplomacy; diplomatic space; negotiation theory; diplomatic methods.
  • Develop greater understanding of the role and limits of diplomacy in international conflicts; bilateral relations; multilateral conferences (trade, environment ) and responding to emerging challenges.
  • Develop strong conceptual and analytical skills.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module students will have:

  • An understanding of the debates relating to the nature and purposes of diplomacy and the different contexts in which these feature, such as; emerging issues on the international agenda; the relationship between diplomacy and force; intervention; differential treatment with respect to obligations; multilateralism versus regionalism.
  • An ability to use core concepts in the study of diplomacy, demonstrated through oral presentations and written work to support analysis and provide frameworks for wider consideration of issues relating to evolving diplomatic practice.
  • Familiarity with a wider range of information, ideas and concepts relating to different post 1945 diplomatic contexts, which will enrich the perspectives and understanding of students of international relations and related studies.
  • Developed critical analytical abilities, and greater awareness of the key ideas and concepts related to the study of contemporary diplomacy.

Staff information

Professor Ronald Barston*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full  Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Coursework only*

Key information

Module code 6SSW0002

Credit level 6

Assessment coursework

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module No