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

Corneliu Bjola

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of the traditions, functions, paradigms and institutions of international diplomacy. The central questions to be discussed in the course include: What are the main roles of diplomacy in international politics? How are they accomplished? What practices, skills and institutions are more conducive to successful diplomatic outcomes? By the end of the course, students are expected to acquire a solid theoretical and empirical understanding of international diplomacy as an instrument of statecraft and international cooperation. 

Global Governance

John Gledhill, Tristen Naylor

This course explores the diverse structures of authority that govern social, political, and economic relationships in an increasingly globalised 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 globalisation, 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 organisations, transnational non-governmental organisations, 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 organised crime, and international responses to weak and failing states.   

Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Tristen Naylor and Xiaolan Fu

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 familiarise 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 are available during 2016-17. There is no guarantee that the same options will be offered in future years.

Diplomacy and International Law

Corneliu Bjola

Designed for students who have limited introduction to diplomatic and public international law, the course aims to give students a practical understanding of how international law informs, regulates and constrains the conduct of diplomacy. The seminar will focus on the following central questions: What principles and instruments underpinning the international legal order are most relevant for the practice of diplomacy? Under what conditions states may be held responsible for their actions under international law? What are the main tensions between theory and practice in the application of diplomatic law? By the end of the course, students are expected to be well conversant about how diplomats practice and ought to practice international law in global affairs. 

Diplomatic Management of International Crises

Corneliu Bjola

Designed for students with minimal prior knowledge of diplomatic theory, this option examines the challenges that diplomats experience in times of international crises and explores the conditions under which the latter could be successful managed. The seminar will focus on the following central questions: What are the critical phases of diplomatic management of international crises? How does the perception of crisis – real, exaggerated or imagined – shape diplomatic responses to crisis situations? Is the space for reflexivity shrinking and if so, what are the implications for diplomatic practice? Can a state of crisis offer new opportunities for engaging in diplomatic innovation and for shaping new forms of diplomatic leadership? How far is it necessary to view diplomacy beyond statecraft, to pluralise it, so as to adequately address the multiple sites and causes of current crises? By the end of the course, students will develop the analytical and practical skills necessary to competently analyse crisis situations, grasp the role of diplomats under such circumstances, and understand the possible determinates of, or conditions for, successful diplomatic management of international crises.

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 post-conflict reconstruction. Specifically, we examine processes of statebuilding and regime-building that have taken place over the past 20 years, under the auspices of the 'liberal peace' project. Issues associated with securing a post-conflict space and demobilising 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.

Non-violent Resistance Movements

 John Gledhill

This course covers the theory of nonviolent resistance, explanations of social mobilisation, repertoires of nonviolent protest, technologies of protest, and transitions from nonviolent resistance into violence. The aims are to understand the normative foundations of nonviolent resistance and develop an empirical framework for explaining the causes, dynamics, and outcomes of such resistance. The course is divided into four sections, each two weeks long. The opening section covers theories and approaches to the study of nonviolence. In the first class, we explore contrasting understandings of social and political power, and consider how those varying approaches give rise to contrasting understandings of resistance. In the second class, we then look at two broad ways of studying nonviolent resistance; prescriptively, and empirically. The next section of the course focusses on processes of social mobilisation that underwrite and sustain nonviolent resistance movements. One class explores the framing of collective motives to mobilise, and the other looks at the development of political opportunities that facilitate protests, as well as availability of the kinds material and human resources that actors need to realise a nonviolent protest, in practice. In the third section of the course, we explore the strategies and dynamics of nonviolent resistance; first at the domestic level, and then at the transnational level. And the course closes by considering the relationship between violent and nonviolent resistance; we first consider how and why violent insurgents may give up their arms and turn to nonviolence, and we then look at why nonviolent resistance sometimes fails, and collapses into violence. Throughout the course, we consider the above themes across a diverse set of historical and contemporary cases of nonviolent resistance, including the US civil rights movement, the anti-Apartheid struggle, the ‘Coloured Revolutions’ in post-communist countries, and the Arab Spring revolts.

Pop Culture and Global Politics

Tristen Naylor

This course explores the intersections between popular culture and global politics. Rooted in a number of disciplines, this course challenges traditional understandings about international politics including the divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ politics and the ontological distance between international politics and everyday experience. It examines how assemblages of everyday things and everyday practices ‘make’ the international; as well as how power operates in and through such quotidian, apparently non-political phenomena. On the one hand, this course looks at how popular culture helps us understand our own world, such as by examining the strategies in the Clone Wars and the Drone Wars; the foreign policies of Presidents Underwood and Obama; or the quandaries of humanitarian intervention faced by Daenrys Targaryen and Tony Blair alike. On the other hand, this course investigates the ways in which popular culture is politics, be it through The Dark Night trilogy’s critique of post-9/11 American power and surveillance; Banksy’s street art as a protest against corporatism and privatisation; or the constitutive effects of selfies.

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 globalised 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

Ivan Manokha

This course examines the development of the international political economy from the Post-World War II period to the present day. It seeks to achieve the following objectives: (i) to examine the key assumptions and propositions of the major paradigms of Classical Political Economy, the transformation of Political Economy into Economics in the late 19th century and its implications, and the contemporary theories of Political Economy that have attempted to bring politics and economics back together; (ii) to develop an analysis of the foundations of the post-war period of sustained growth and prosperity known as the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ or the ‘Thirty Glorious Years’; (iii) to explain the crisis of the 1970s, the demise of the post-war order and the emergence of the neoliberal order; and (iv) to analyse the current crisis of the neoliberal order by examining the origins of the latest financial crisis in the Unites States and its subsequent spread to Europe, as well as to evaluate the most recent policy responses to the crisis.

Surveillance and Human Rights

Ivan Manokha

The objective of this course is to discuss the development of new techniques and methods of surveillance, employed by a plethora of state and non-state actors, with respect to the international regime of human rights. The course begins with the examination of the historical development of surveillance society and of the existing theoretical perspectives on surveillance processes and practices. It then moves on to the analysis of the impact of surveillance on different categories of individual rights which include political and civil rights (such as the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty) as well as economic and social rights (the development of workplace surveillance and its implications for the rights of workers, the consequences of social sorting for the right to freedom from discrimination).

Globalisation and Labour

Ivan Manokha

The aim of this course is to examine the impact of global economic restructuring on the workplace and on labour as a collective actor, in both the Global North and the Global South, as well the efforts of workers and their institutions to promote their interests and to protect their rights. With respect to the developed world, the course discusses issues such as the impact of globalisation on collective bargaining and trade unions, the growth of precarious employment and migrant labour. As regards developing countries, the course focusses on the development of global supply chains and pays particular attention to sweatshop labour, women workers and child labour. Each topic is discussed with reference to a specific case-study.

Non-Core Options

  • Gender & Development (Masooda Bano)
  • Politics of the Poor (Indrajit Roy)
  • History & Politics of West Africa (Raufu Mustapha)
  • Power & Punishment: Creating Social Order in Africa
  • Technology & Industrialisation in Developing Countries (Xiaolan Fu)

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,