Diplomacy MA


Fact file

MA Diplomacy
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
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.


This course will introduce you to the advanced study of diplomacy. It 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

The MA Diplomacy is a dynamic, interdisciplinary programme that will introduce you to the advanced study of diplomacy. Offered jointly by the schools of Politics and International Relations, History, and Law, it will expose you to the latest research in areas such as the law of armed conflict, crisis management, and contemporary international history.

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.

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.

Each year, students on the MA Diplomacy are offered the opportunity to participate in a field trip to Europe, where they 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.

Course-specific entry requirements 

Please note that relevant professional experience will be considered in assessing applications, although it is not a requirement of entry.

Key facts

  • The School of Politics and International Relations was ranked in the top 15 in the UK for research power in the Research Excellence Framework 2014
  • This interdisciplinary course is taught between the Schools of Politics and International Relations, History and Law
  • The programme is one of the most popular to be offered by the School of Politics and International Relations, attracting students from all over the world
  • Students are offered the opportunity to go on a field trip to visit key diplomatic institutions

Course details

The MA Diplomacy can be studied on a full-time basis over one year or part-time over two years.

The MA consists of 60 credits of core modules, and a further 60 credits of modules taken during the autumn and spring semesters.

Your studies will culminate in the research and writing of a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation, which is an opportunity for you to research a subject of your own choosing under the expert guidance of a member of staff, represents a substantial piece of independent research drawing on primary source materials as well as secondary literature.

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. The summer months between June and September are spent writing your dissertation.

Assessment for each taught module takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or examination, 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.



Core modules

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. 

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 students to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.

This module aims to:

  • offer an advanced study of the theory and practice of current diplomacy

Core modules from the School of Humanities

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.


Core modules from the School of Law

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 seventeenth 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.

This module aims to:

  • provide a solid understanding of the international legal order, and the key concepts underpinning it

Students may take their dissertation with the Schools of Politics and International Relations, History, or Law. The dissertation topic must be related to the field of diplomacy.

Students must take 60 credits from the below:

Diplomacy Dissertation

The researching and writing of 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.

This module aims to:

  • allow students to write a dissertation on a subject chosen in conjunction with their supervisor
Dissertation LLM

This module consists of written work on a legal topic of the candidate's choice, resulting from individual research. It is normally based upon material falling within the area covered by the degree for which the candidate is registered.

This module aims to:

  • provide an opportunity for students to write on any topic relevant to their degree
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.

The aim of the MA Dissertation in History (Research) is to provide the students with experience of undertaking a large-scale research topic as a basis for further postgraduate work in the field of history.


Optional modules

Students must take 60 credits from the group below:

Contemporary Warfare

This module will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce students 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.

The events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent American declaration of a 'War on Terror' have recast the focus of global security. The attack upon a hegemonic superpower by violent non-state actors placed terrorism at the centre of Western concepts of contemporary security and enabled President Bush to redraw international relations along the fault-line of those either 'with us or against us' in a global effort to eradicate terrorist threats. 

This module aims to:

  • give students a broad understanding of the role non-state actors play in contemporary global security
  • build a conceptual and empirical appreciation of how states and non-state actors interact in the realm of contemporary global security
  • offer an understanding of how the influence and importance of non-state actors to the dynamics of global security has changed
  • build an understanding as to the motives behind violent sub-state behaviour before and after 9/11
Designing Political Enquiry

The module is designed to allow students 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.

Topics to be addressed include issues involved in developing a research question, problems of conceptualisation, measurement, and strategies and approaches to causal theorising in 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.

This module aims to:

  • provide students with an understanding of the stages and issues that are involved in designing research in political science and political theory
  • encourage students to apply the research design tools for the critical assessment of literature in political science
  • familiarise students with different techniques of generating and processing data, and to encourage students to critically use and assess these techniques
  • promote students' ability to develop and design their own research project
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.

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)

This module aims to:

  • promote a critical engagement with material in the International Relations and European Foreign Policy field
  • provide an insight into the link between theory and practice of security policies
  • provide an understanding of how the European Union reacts to international crises
  • provide a basis for further study or careers in government, international organisations, media and the military
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. 

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

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major perspectives, themes, debates and issues in the field of Asian politics
  • develop a broad knowledge of the politics of the region alongside country-specific and issue-specific examples, in both historical and contemporary contexts
  • develop students' understanding and critical awareness of key perspectives in the literature on Asian politics, in particular on Asian political systems, regional identity and intra-regional relationships, and the political positioning of Asia in global politics
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.

This module aims to:

  • provide students with the necessary historical, strategic and theoretical background to achieving an understanding of grand strategy as a component of the study of International Politics 
  • compare different grand strategies across time and space 
  • develop an understanding of how governments integrate their political, economic, and military goals in order to preserve long-term interests
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.

This module aims to:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of the legal principles governing the adoption and application of international treaties, the theoretical controversies underlying those principles and the role of treaties in international society
International Political Economy

The module will introduce students to the main approaches to International Political Economy, providing 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.

This module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the international political economy as an academic discipline as well as a concrete area of empirical research
  • understand concepts such as globalisation, regionalisation, regionalism, dependence and inequality
  • develop an understanding of how key concepts are conceived and applied in international political economy
  • introduce students to the latest empirical developments in international political economy
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. It 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
  • dire

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of the philosophical foundations to arguments about distributive justice, particularly as these apply to international and intergenerational concerns
  • build appreciation for the operation of principles of justice with respect to specific issues, such as global redistribution and intergenerational issues
  • build awareness of key conceptual and methodological issues in the study of contemporary political theory
The Politics of South Asia

This module introduces students 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. 

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the political history of South Asia, in order that they may develop an understanding of the multiple challenges the different states faced
  • compare the political institutions of the states of South Asia, and to provide an understanding of the relationship of 'traditional' societies with 'modern' democratic institutions
  • develop a critical and comparative understanding of contemporary South Asian politics, both internally and externally
Quantitative Political Analysis

This module introduces students 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 students with hands-on skills of data analysis and will enable them to write professional academic reports on these analyses.

This module aims to:

  • offer an understanding of conceptualisation, measurement, and hypothesis testing, as conceived in political science studies that include quantitative analysis
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.

This module aims to:

  • develop students' understanding of current issues relating to the detention of prisoners and enemy combatants through a study of different historical periods and experiences
Special Project A

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

This module aims to:

  • allow students to undertake independent research under the guidance of a tutor
Special Project B

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

This module aims to:

  • allow students to undertake independent research under the guidance of a tutor
Terrorism and Insurgencies

This module is designed to acquaint students 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, students will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. They 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. 

This module aims to:

  • build an understanding of the development of the four main waves of modern terrorism and of contemporary efforts in the realm of counter-terrorism
  • develop an awareness of the debates surrounding the changes in nature terrorism and the problematic nature of the response of the liberal state
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.

The purpose of this module is to make students 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. 

This module aims to:

  • familiarise students with the contemporary literature and debates
  • appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of competing approaches
  • develop an understanding of how key concepts are conceived and applied in international relations
  • develop a critical comparison of the application of the dominant explanatory models
  • understand the reasons for the use of specific approaches
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.

This module aims to:

  • give students critical understanding of the blurring boundaries between war and peace in the modern world
  • introduce students to a range of issues, from terrorism to covert action, which are increasingly challenging conventional distinctions between war and peace
  • introduce students to theories of war, peace, and security and impart an awareness of how the 'security' agenda of states and societies is changing
Western Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States and Europe have sought to cooperate on counter-terrorism policies and this module will investigate both the substance of this cooperation as well as the conceptual thinking on which it is based. 

It will seek to determine whether a coherent US-European approach to countering transnational terrorism is emerging and whether this approach can provide a foundation for a wider international counter-terrorism architecture.

Attention will be paid to multilateral approaches to combating terrorism through organisations such as the United Nations and attempts by the transatlantic allies to extend counter-terrorism cooperation to the wider international community. 

This module aims to:

  • help students appreciate the complex internal and external security challenges presented by contemporary terrorism
  • engage with the literature and theories on counter-terrorism policy
  • understand that western counter-terrorism policy requires international cooperation across several policy fields
  • gain awareness of different priorities in counter-terrorism policy
  • appreciate the obstacles that confront counter-terrorism cooperation and the delicate balance in providing security whilst safeguarding civil liberties
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.

This module aims to:

  • examine patterns of Russian expansion and restraint, and theories that may help us understand them and predict the future

Subject to the approval of appropriate staff, students may be permitted to take modules offered in the Schools of Law and History, however these must relate closely to the field of diplomacy.

Listen to 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.



Up-to-date fees information can be found on our student fees and finance website.

UK/EU students

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 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. 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 

The 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.

For those students who wish to continue with their studies following the successful completion of one of our MA programmes, the school offers 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 2014, 92.9% of postgraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,409 with the highest being £29,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.

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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School of Politics and International Relations
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