Diplomacy MA


Fact file

MA Diplomacy
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Relevant professional experience is not required but may also be considered in assessing applications
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


Designed to introduce you to the advanced study of diplomacy, this course will expose you to the latest research in areas such as the law of armed conflict, crisis management, and contemporary international history.
Read full overview

Diplomacy provides the vital human framework for the development of international society in a globalising world. Increasingly complex patterns of law, culture, history, economics and politics - both within and between states - are mediated by the practice of diplomacy. The craft of diplomacy, although distinguished by a remarkable and time-honoured pedigree, is ever more essential to mediation and regulation in the contemporary world.

This dynamic, interdisciplinary programme will introduce you to the advanced study of diplomacy. Offered jointly by the School of Politics and International Relations, the School of Law, and the Department of History, it will expose you to the latest research in areas such as the law of armed conflict, crisis management, and contemporary international history.

You will develop a broad understanding of diplomacy and negotiation, including traditional approaches that view it as a specialist form of statecraft, and modern conceptions that embrace areas such as the media and cultural diplomacy.

You will be offered the opportunity to participate in a field trip to Europe, where you will visit key diplomatic institutions and organisations such as the European Commission, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and the European Parliament.

Key facts

  • The School of Politics and International Relations was ranked in the UK top 15 for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • This interdisciplinary course is taught jointly by the School of Politics and International Relations, the School of Law, and the Department of History
  • As one of the most popular options offered by the school, this programme attracts students from all over the world
  • You will be offered the opportunity to participate in a field trip to Europe, where you will visit key diplomatic institutions and organisations

Course details

This course consists of 60 credits of core modules, and a further 60 credits of optional modules taken during the autumn and spring semesters.

Assessment for each taught module takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or exams, with some modules also requiring an assessed presentation. However, modules offered by the School of Law are usually assessed at the end of the spring semester.

Modules are usually offered as 20 or 15 credit versions.

Your studies will culminate in the research and writing of a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation. This represents a substantial piece of independent research drawing on primary source material as well as secondary literature. You will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

Teaching is spread across two semesters: autumn, which begins in September and ends in January; and spring, which begins in January and ends in June. You will spend the summer months between June and September writing your dissertation.




Politics and International Relations

The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy

This module focuses on the changing nature of diplomatic practice, together with the range of conceptual tools that seek to explain this international activity. Its focus is contemporary.

It provides a political analysis of new developments such as the public diplomacy, the decline of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the role of regional/multinational organisations and summitry. It also encourages you to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.



The Evolution of Diplomacy

This module focuses on the evolution of diplomatic practice from the earliest times to the 20th century. It provides an historical analysis of the major developments such as the use of envoys, the rise of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the impact of multinational organisations and summitry. In doing so, it also discusses the purposes and major features of diplomacy.

By the end of the module students should have assimilated the main themes regarding the evolution of diplomacy in the period under discussion and should have a good understanding of the major developments in this process.



The Law of War and Peace

This compulsory module is designed to give students from different disciplines a grounding in the underlying principles and concepts of international law, in terms of sources, persons, jurisdiction, responsibility and settlement of disputes, but also to place them within the context of two of the central concerns of international law - war and peace.

The development of international law from the 17th century has been driven by the need to regulate warfare which occurred with significant regularity, and to stabilise the periods of peace that emerged at the end of each conflict. That division still remains in international law, though for a number of decades after the Second World War the law of war was seen as a junior partner to the law of peace.

The module will assess whether that relationship has been changed by events such as 9/11 and the response to terrorism, the on-going conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the advent of the International Criminal Court.


One of:

Diplomacy Dissertation

You will research and write a substantive dissertation within the field of diplomacy and drawing on at least one of the main approaches (International Relations, Law, History) within this inter-disciplinary degree scheme. The dissertation should be 15,000 words in length.

Dissertation LLM

Written work on a legal topic of the your choice resulting from individual research and normally based upon material falling within the area covered by the degree for which you are registered.

MA Dissertation in History

The dissertation is an extended piece of research on a research topic within the field of history. All students will have a supervisor appointed during the course of the Research Skills for Historians module and they will be expected to consult the supervisor during and towards the end of the project. All dissertation students will be required to make use of both primary and secondary material and incorporate this into their dissertation.


You can take your dissertation with the School of Politics and International Relations, the School of Law, or the Department of History. The topic must be related to the field of diplomacy.


You will take 60 credits from the following list:

Contemporary Warfare

This module aims to explore the dynamics of conflict in the modern world. It will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce you to empirical analyses of numerous terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as to theoretical understandings of sub-state violence in the post-9/11 world.

This module will enable you to engage with the concepts of resistance and rebellion in international relations and widen understanding of the multiple levels of global security.

Designing Political Enquiry

The module is designed to allow you to develop a critical understanding of the methodological issues involved in designing and undertaking political science research and to strengthen their ability to read and evaluate political science literature more generally.

The first part of the module focuses on issues of research design in political science, in particular, the use of the comparative method in political science research. It exposes you to a broad range of methodological issues involved in designing, conducting and writing up research based on a relative small number of cases in areas of comparative politics, international relations, and public policy. Topics that are addressed in the module include issues involved in developing a research question, problems of conceptualisation, measurement, and strategies and approaches to causal theorising in small N research.

The second part of the module addresses various methods of generating and processing data for political science research. Methods that are covered include the use of documentary sources, observation, and various forms of interviewing.

Europe and the Developing World

This module analyses the decision-making process and current policy issues in both economic (first pillar) and political and security (CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policies, and ESDP: European Security and Defence Policies) policies within the European Union.

We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary EU policies towards Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Themes include: 

  • theorising EU security policies
  • instruments of security policies
  • issues such as post-colonialism
  • intervention
  • ethics of intervention
  • just war theory
  • asylum policies
  • migration policies
  • the fight against terrorism and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
Global Asia

This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia. It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.

Topics will include:

  • democracy and democratisation
  • authoritarianism and hybrid regimes
  • "Asian values" and humanitarianism, nationalism, political economy of development
  • gender relations
  • affirmative action
  • terrorism, non-traditional security and human security
  • resource politics
  • nuclear Asia
  • environmental challenges
  • globalisation
  • Asia on the global stage
Grand Strategy

This module examines how nations have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. It analyses a variety of national strategies in order to understand how geography, history, culture, and finance influence decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace.

The module draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of great power politics.

International Law of Treaties

This module examines the legal regime governing the adoption, implementation, interpretation, amendment and termination of international agreements within the wider context of the role and significance of treaties in the international legal order.

International Political Economy

The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.

The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.

The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (eg Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.

Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice

The module introduces and explores the concept of distributive justice on an international and intergenerational basis. Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.

This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module.

The programme for dealing with these themes includes: international theories of justice, with particular reference to faminie relief and humanitarian intervention; intergenerational justice and personal identity, 'biocentric' theories of justice; animal rights; and, direct political action.

The Politics of South Asia

This module introduces you to the politics of modern South Asia, focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The region is growing in international importance both strategically, economically and politically. The module evaluates alternative explanations for the different democratic trajectories of these states, despite their shared colonial past, and the interaction between 'tradition' and 'modernity' in developing political institutions. 

In so doing it examines the different strategies of nation building adopted by the elites of these very diverse states, and how and why the considerable ethnic and religious diversity of the region has impacted on the 'quality' of democracy. It concludes with an examination of the international politics of South Asia, and considers future scenarios for the region.

Quantitative Political Analysis

This module introduces you to the estimation, quantification, and coding of political data as well as the descriptive and inferential analysis of data using probabilistic and statistical techniques.

The module will also provide you with hands-on skills of data analysis and will enable you to write professional academic reports on these analyses.

The Road to Guantanamo: The Treatment and Experience of Prisoners, Civilian Internees and Detainees since 1860

This module explores the way in which state authorities have treated prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees from circa 1860 - the dawn of the modern era of international humanitarian law - to the present day. It examines developments in state practice and international law relating to the detention of 'enemy' individuals, and explores different national, ideological and cultural approaches to the issue of captivity.

The module is explicitly historical in character and methodology but will draw on international and political theory where appropriate to explain state and individual behaviour.

Special Project A

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

Special Project B

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

Terrorism and Insurgencies

This module is designed to acquaint you with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies.

Both threats have become more acute in recent years and much intellectual, military and economic capital has been used up in efforts to contain them. In taking this module, you will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. You will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments. 

You will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. You will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. By the end of the module, you will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today's world.

Theories and Concepts in International Relations

The War on Iraq and the US and British invasion of the country in 2003 has led to huge tensions in geopolitics. At the same time, the supposed 'threat' of international terrorism and continuing financial turmoil in the world economy have both brought to the fore the global politics of co-operation and confrontation.

Whilst it might be possible to agree on the signifcance of these events, the explanation and/or understanding of them is dependent on prior theoretical choices. The purpose of this module is to make you aware of the diversity of approaches to international theory.

Within International Relations (IR) theory there exist highly divergent interpretations and applications of key concepts (eg power, the state, agency, structure, and world order) as well as contested views about the practical purpose underpinning theories of world politics. The overall aim of the module is to provide you with a solid theoretical and conceptual grounding of this diversity. As a result, it will be possible to recognise not only how international theory informs policy-making and practice but also, perhaps, how truly contested the underlying assumptions of world politics are.

War, Peace and Terror

This module explores the blurring boundaries between war and peace, and the implications for understanding security.

The first section assesses the changing nature of warfare, including theories of asymmetric warfare and terrorism; the second section examines the 'dark arts' of international relations, from assassination to psychological warfare, operating in the grey area between war and peace.

With large scale conventional warfare increasingly unlikely, the third section considers 'new' security issues in peacetime such as poverty and disease.

When Does Russia Expand and Why?

Russia's annexation of the Crimea will strike many Westerners as merely the latest chapter in a long history of Russian imperialism. Does Russia always expand when it has the opportunity? Or is its expansion, when it occurs, explained by contingent factors?

This module will examine Russia's expansion and contraction from the 17th century to the present, and the causes underlying it.


You may be permitted to take modules offered in the School of Law and the Department of History (subject to approval), however these must relate closely to the field of diplomacy.

Watch our lecturers talking about some of the modules on offer in our virtual module fair.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The school sometimes offers its own scholarships. University scholarships and external scholarships are also available, please visit the Graduate School website for more information about all the available funding opportunities.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2017 entry scholarships will open in late 2016. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



The MA Diplomacy is focused on those wishing to pursue professional careers that involve expertise in international representation and negotiation. It is ideal if you have a keen interest in pursuing a wide range of occupations that are informed by diplomacy, mediation and negotiation.

These include:

  • Civil service
  • Commercial negotiation
  • Defence liaison
  • Foreign trade departments
  • International cultural exchange
  • International financial regulation
  • International and non-governmental organisations
  • Journalism
  • Ministerial advising
  • Public information
  • Telecommunications consultancy

This course is particularly beneficial to trainee or in-service diplomats, enhancing their ability to work effectively within the diplomatic community.

It is suitable for those in mid-career who wish to change direction, move into policy areas, or who wish to take time out to make sense of their day-to-day policy activities.

Many of our previous students have held Chevening Scholarships from the British Council.

Students who wish to continue with their studies following the successful completion of one of our MA programmes may wish consider our MRes and MPhil/PhD degrees. Research degree supervision in most of the major sub-areas of the discipline of politics is offered by the increasing number of academic staff working in the school.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 82% of postgraduates in the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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