MSc in Global Governance & Diplomacy

The MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy is a nine-month course designed to provide high-quality graduate training about the institutions and processes of global governance and diplomacy and will prepare you for a career in those fields or beyond.

The degree will teach you about the sources, mechanisms, processes, and practices of global governance at the subnational, national, international, and transnational levels, focussing on issues such as globalisation, regional integration, international organisation, and multilateralism. It will also provide you with substantive knowledge and theoretical background concerning the institutions and processes of international diplomacy, including diplomatic practice, international negotiation, conflict mediation, and public diplomacy, as well as the conduct of diplomacy in international and regional bodies.

You can choose from a rich menu of options to deepen your knowledge about specific aspects of global governance and diplomacy.

You will write a dissertation on a topical issue of your choice, under the close supervision of a resident scholar, and receive training in research methods, enabling you to apply to proceed to doctoral studies if you so wish. Alternatively, the course will prepare you for a professional career in global governance and diplomacy, as well as civil society and business.

The Course Director for 2016/17 is John Gledhill.


You will take a foundation course; two optional courses from a list of choices; and a course on research methods. You will also prepare a dissertation.

The foundation course is a two-term course consisting of 16 two-hour seminars. You may choose either the Global Governance course or the International Diplomacy course.

The optional courses cover important aspects of global governance and/or diplomacy. Each option consists of eight two-hour seminars.

There is also a mandatory, two-term course on qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences.

Lastly, you will research and prepare a 10,000- to 12,000- word dissertation to be submitted towards the end of the final term.

Over the duration of the course you will benefit from a series of plenary lectures. These weekly lectures introduce important issues of global governance and diplomacy and/or provide research-led presentations on related topics, followed by discussion.

Teaching on the course generally takes place in small classes to encourage active participation and enable students to learn from each other. Teaching styles are diverse and include lectures, seminars, workshops, and student presentations.

Foundation Courses

International Diplomacy

Tristen Naylor

This course provides students with an advanced overview of diplomacy- exploring its functions, institutions, and practices. In terms of theory, this course explores a wide array of approaches to the study of diplomacy, examines what the study of diplomacy can tell us about the international system to which it gives institutional foundation, and probes the leading questions in contemporary scholarship. In terms of practice, this course gives students training in the core tasks of diplomacy, with an emphasis on training in negotiation and communications through simulation exercises. In Michaelmas Term students engage with the most central and important themes in diplomacy and the predominant modes of interaction through which diplomacy is conducted. Building on this foundation, the structures and agents (and the interplay between the two) in diplomacy are examined in-depth in Hilary Term, with a particular focus on the myriad of changes in the contemporary governance landscape and its implications for the future practice of diplomacy, for state and non-state actors alike.

Global Governance

John Gledhill, Joerg Friedrichs and Michael Bloomfield

This course explores the diverse structures of authority that govern social, political, and economic relationships in an increasingly globalized world. In Michaelmas Term, we survey the various analytic tools that allow us to understand and critically   evaluate structures of global governance. We first discuss key concepts such as globalization, global politics, and global governance.We then lay down the theoretical foundations of the course by reading key texts on international relations, global governance, and global ethics. Next, we identify the primary actors that form part of the emerging web of global governance, such the United Nations, regional organizations, transnational non-governmental organizations, and other sources of private authority. In Hilary Term, we use our newly-acquired theoretical lenses to identify and critically evaluate the regulation of various issues that fall under the broad banner of global governance. Topics covered include energy security, financial and trade regulation, food and environmental security, global health, transnational organized crime, and international responses to weak and failing states.

Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Joerg Friedrichs and Imane Chaara

The objective of this mandatory course is to make students familiar with cutting-edge research methods. Part I in Michaelmas Term attends to Qualitative Methods and provides a broad introduction to social scientific thinking. Part II in Hilary Term attends to Quantitative Methods. In Part I, students are made familiar with the full range of qualitative research techniques, including their epistemological background. The course is divided into two broad sections. The first section offers an introduction to basic notions of methodology and the philosophy of science (Classes 1-4). The second section (Classes 5-8) offers an introduction to the principles and practices (“nuts and bolts”) of qualitative research. Part II is aimed to familiarize the students with the basic statistical methods used in quantitative social research with a particular focus on development.

Option Courses

Please note that the option courses available change from year to year. Below is a list of options that were available during 2015-16. There is no guarantee that the same options will be offered in 2016-17.

The Politics of Diplomacy

Tristen Naylor

This seminar looks in-depth at political contestation amongst diplomats as they seek status, prestige, and power for the polities they represent (and for themselves) and govern (and contest) the global order upon which all else rests. In short, this seminar critically examines the institution through which global order is contested and maintained by looking at the flesh and blood diplomats (and their interlocutors) who actually 'do' the politicking. Students will critically examine the significant shifts in diplomacy as it apparently moves from a more traditional 'club' form to a seemingly more 'networked', post-Westphalian form in which the who, what, where, why, and how of diplomacy are fundamentally altered. This seminar challenges students to analyse and theorise these phenomena while concurrently preparing them to be successful practitioners who must navigate the ever-emergent and ever-political institution of diplomacy.

Diplomatic Management of International Crises

Tristen Naylor

Designed for students with minimal prior knowledge of diplomatic theory (but suitable for those who are well versed), this seminar provides students with an overview of the role of diplomacy and diplomats in international crisis management. In terms of theory, this seminar explores the risk of crises in contemporary global politics and the institutional roles that diplomacy plays in preventing, managing, and ending crises. In practical terms the seminar provides students with in-depth training in risk  assessment, political analysis, and crisis management. Students will also examine the roles and behaviours of actors in crises with a view to assessing best practices in crisis situations and will use the knowledge gained in the course to critically examine the most significant and world-changing diplomatic crises of the modern era.

Religion and World Politics

Joerg Friedrichs

The aim of this seminar is to introduce students to the crucial topic of religion in world politics. It is accepted wisdom that religion is resurgent and matters, but exactly what this entails and precisely how religion matters is less well understood. The  seminar presents a variety of linkages between religion and politics: transnational religious ties, the rise and potential demise of secularization and secularism, the role of religion in shaping state-society relations including democratization and respect for human rights, Islamist visions of political order, the specific manifestation of religiosity and state management of religion in among Asia’s pivotal powers, the influence of religion on foreign policy and particularly the US freedom of religion agenda, and the question of whether religion is part of the problem or part of the solution when it comes to violent conflict and broader forms of social contestation such as resentment among civilizations. Covering all these multi-faceted linkages between religion and politics, the seminar discusses some of the most topical issues in contemporary world politics

Peacebuilding and Statebuilding

John Gledhill

This course examines the many dilemmas that are associated with contemporary processes of peacemaking, peacebuilding, and post-conflict statebuilding. We open by considering the concepts of conflict, violence, and peace, and we evaluate the post-Cold War view that democracy and a liberal market constitute the best institutional environments in which to foster peace. In the second section of the class, we explore international responses to ongoing armed conflicts. Particular attention is given to ethical and practical dilemmas that are associated with the provision of humanitarian assistance in conflict zones.We also consider the changing role of peacekeeping forces and peace support operations in the post-Cold War era, before going on to examine the dynamics of peace negotiations and the reasons for which particular peace agreements hold, while others fail. In the next section of the course, we turn our attention to postconflict reconstruction. Specifically, we examine processes of  statebuilding and regime-building that have taken place over the past twenty years, under the auspices of the “liberal peace” project. Issues associated with securing a post-conflict space and demobilizing combatants are first considered. We then move on to discuss regime- and institution-building, by looking at dilemmas associated with attempts to install electoral democracy and a market economy in a post-conflict space. The course concludes with an examination of various processes of transitional justice that may be implemented in the wake of armed conflict.

Security Issues in Fragile States

 John Gledhill

This course introduces students to the expanding literature on fragile and ‘failed’ states, by inviting specific consideration of the causes and consequences of security issues in these states.We open with a discussion of the origins and characteristics of the modern state, and we consider the analytic merit of emerging concepts such as ‘fragile,’ ‘weak,’ and ‘failed’ states. The second section of the course give students sets of theoretical lenses for understanding the causes and dynamics of violent conflict in weak states.We specifically discuss processes of mobilization for rebellion and factors that underwrite a protraction and institutionalization of civil conflict.We then narrow the focus of our investigation by looking at specific security issues, such as: The relationship between identity and conflict; the impact of regime transition on state security; terrorism; and sources of private authority such as warlordism.

Political Economy of Institutions and Development

Adeel Malik

This course is designed to introduce the emerging field of political economy of institutions and development, and to deepen understanding of how domestic institutions shape economic development in a globalized world. It engages students with the intellectual frontiers of institutions and development, highlighting the theoretical, empirical and public policy aspects of this literature. Beginning with an overview of leading perspectives on new institutional economics, the course will develop and critically assess key topics in the field, to include: the economics of property rights, of rent seeking and corruption, of institutions. It will also examine the process of economic change (especially the role of institutions in shaping governance and development paths), and the colonial origins of institutions and their impact on development. This course will be taught in a comparative and international context, and will furnish relevant evidence and examples from developing societies.

Global Political Economy

Michael Bloomfield

The aim of the course is to critically examine the intersection of the economic and the political, exploring the ways in which power and institutions impact upon economic policy while exploring the reasons why scholars in the field often disagree over  courses of action even when working from the same information. Paying particular attention to the role of interests, institutions and ideas in shaping political and economic outcomes, students will be able to develop theoretical and policy perspectives on the issues while being exposed to key debates and significant trends.

Politics of Sustainable Development

Michael Bloomfield

The aim of the course is to critically examine the intersection of economic, political and environmental issues in the global economy. Students will be able to develop theoretical and policy perspectives on the issue, and be exposed to key debates and significant trends. The course will cover different concepts and theories underpinning current debates in the political economy of the sustainable development concerning: environment and trade; environment and development; effectiveness and compatibility of multi-level approaches to global environmental governance; non-state initiatives and the nature of private authority in global environmental politics. Seminars will introduce students to actors, issue areas and specific cases using both discussion and task-based approaches to explore these issues from multiple perspectives.

Political Economy of Global Resources

Michael Bloomfield

The aim of the course is to critically examine the key role of resource extraction and consumption in the global economy. Students will be able to develop theoretical and policy perspectives on the issue, and be exposed to key debates and significant trends. The course will cover different concepts and theories underpinning current debates in the political economy of natural resources concerning: colonialism and neo-colonialism; the significance of resources in development and underdevelopment; renewable and nonrenewable resources and the environment; the links between resource extraction and corruption, conflict and forced migration. Seminars will introduce students to specific cases (e.g. the Canadian experience, the Latin American experience, conflict minerals in DRC, success in Botswana, women in mining) using discussion, various media and task-based approaches to explore these issues from multiple perspectives.

Non-Core Options

  • Gender & Development (Masooda Bano)
  • Poverty & Human Development (Sabina Alkire)

The course provided everything I looked for in a graduate program: strong theoretical grounding, practical tools in qualitative and quantitative research and analysis, and an array of elective courses, from which I was able to choose those that fit my interests the most.

Nadira Khudayberdieva, MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy 2011-12, now Research Analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, New York, US.

The degree aims to prepare you for a career in diplomacy and/or regional and transnational institutions of governance such as international and nongovernmental organisations, and private sector firms interacting with these institutions. It also provides the basis for further education, including doctoral studies.

Graduates of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy have joined the United Nations and other international organisations, the diplomatic service in the UK and abroad, government departments across the globe, NGOs such as Oxfam, and the private sector in fields ranging from investment to energy.

Find out more about what some recent graduates of the course are doing now.

Global Governance & Diplomacy Public Speaker Series

The Global Governance & Diplomacy Public Speaker Series brings diplomatic practitioners and academic scholars for a two-hour conversation with students and fellows of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy. It is designed to allow GGD students and fellows to interact with experienced professionals and to discuss new perspectives on current diplomatic events and global governance challenges.

In order to facilitate an open and constructive conversation, the public speaker series talks follow the Chatham House Rule (participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed). Lectures last about 45-60 minutes (followed by 30-45 minutes of Q&A) and are followed by a small reception. Seminars are usually attended by 25-30 people.

The series is convened by Corneliu Bjola.

See forthcoming events in the series.

See past events in the series.

Teaching Awards

Tristen Naylor was named Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Social Sciences in the 2016 OUSU Teaching Awards.

Corneliu Bjola won an OxTALENT Award in 2014 for his use of social media to enhance teaching on the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy.

John Gledhill won an Oxford University Teaching Award in 2013. The awards recognise excellence in teaching and learning.

Please refer to the course webpage on the University Graduate Admissions pages for full information on selection criteria, application deadlines and English language requirements. Also see our How to Apply page.

Enquiries about the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy should be addressed to the Graduate Student Administrator,