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 international, transnational, state, and sub-state 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.

Applicants to this degree who are interested in progressing onto doctoral study are eligible to apply for an ESRC 1+3 Studentship which could provide them with four years of full funding. These studentships, previously only available for UK and EU students, are now also available to non-EU students. See the Fees and Funding page for more information.

The Course Director for 2021/22 is Professor Corneliu Bjola


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 running over 16 weeks and covering fundamental issues of global governance and diplomacy.

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 write a 10,000- to 12,000- word dissertation under the supervision of a supervisor to be submitted towards the end of the final term.

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

Most of our teaching 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 Course

Global Governance and Diplomacy

Professor Corneliu Bjola, Professor John Gledhill, Dr Jai Bhatia

The foundational course in Global Governance and Diplomacy explores 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 also provides students with a thorough knowledge of the institutions and processes of international diplomacy, including key themes of diplomatic thought, paradigms of international negotiation, ethical boundaries of diplomatic engagement, and transformative implications of digital technologies.

Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Dr Seila Panizzolo (Qualitative Methods); Professor Pramila Krishnan and Professor Christopher Woodruff (Quantitative Methods)

Part I on qualitative methods (Michaelmas Term) develops common research methods in the social sciences including but not limited to the topics of concept formation, causal analysis, single and comparative case study methods, case selection, qualitative interviewing, historical and ethnographic methods, and genealogy. The course familiarizes students with a suite of research techniques, taking account of their methodological and epistemological background. The emphasis is on enabling students to become savvy consumers, and eventually producers, of scholarship using qualitative methods.

Part II on quantitative methods (Hilary Term): Lectures are held jointly with the first-year MPhil students, while classes are organised in smaller groups, and are led by teaching assistants. The aim of this course is to familiarize students with the basic statistical methods used in quantitative social research with a focus on descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, model building, regression analysis, and identification of causal relationships. The emphasis is on the intuitive understanding of concepts and procedures. The course provides students with an elementary understanding of the logic of statistical analysis and with the skills to conduct a basic analysis using a statistical software. It also equips students to present basic quantitative data and helps them develop strategies for using data to support their research. The aim is to develop skills in research methods for those who have no prior experience, and to enhance the skills of those with some prior knowledge. It should also be helpful to students in critically appraising published research.

Option Courses

Please note that the option courses available change from year to year. Below is a list of options that are available during 2021-22. There is no guarantee that the same options will be offered in future years.

Diplomacy and International Law

Professor 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.

Public Diplomacy

Professor Corneliu Bjola

The course explores the origin and evolution of public diplomacy, its goals, methods and outcomes, and the challenges it faces in the changing geopolitical context of the 21st century. The first four sessions of the course introduce students to core theoretical debates regarding the contributions of the concept of public diplomacy (PD) to the field of diplomatic studies as well as to specific methods of PD engagement and evaluation, including from a digital perspective. The second part of the course focuses on key themes of public diplomacy, including nation branding, cultural diplomacy, diaspora relations and international exchange programs. By the end of the course, students are expected to develop analytical and practical skills necessary to analyse different approaches to public diplomacy, identify realistic and workable tools and methods for different situations, explain how to plan strategies for country image-building activities, based on best practices, and how to assess and evaluate the impact of public diplomacy programmes.

Peacebuilding and Statebuilding

Dr 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 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.

Non-violent Resistance Movements

Dr John Gledhill

This course covers the theory of nonviolent resistance, explanations of social mobilization, 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 focuses on processes of social mobilization that underwrite and sustain nonviolent resistance movements. One class explores the framing of collective motives to mobilize, 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 realize 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..

Political Economy of Institutions and Development

Dr 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.

Surveillance and Human Rights

Dr 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).

Global Trade and Finance

Dr Jai Bhatia

Globalisation has brought its opportunities for economic growth and development, but also its challenges. This course engages in this critical discourse by unpacking key concepts and debates in Global Trade and Finance, including ‘free trade’, ’financial/trade liberalisation’, ‘globalisation’, ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘financialisation.’. It critically examines its implications for international relations, diplomacy and economic development. The course begins by setting the conceptual tools to enable students to use theories and frameworks to engage in these debates, followed by a more in-depth look on the global trade architecture, including institutions and actors, and how they engage to influence the proliferation of capitalism. The course then looks at the integration of both developed and developing countries in this global capitalist framework, by engaging with research on multinational corporations and global value chains, and its relation to economic diplomacy and development. The course then explores financialization, its impacts on countries and people. Finally, against these overwhelming structures, we examine the resistance and counter-movements this has given rise to at local, national and international levels, and how these may yet have implications in the future.

International Institutions

Dr Seila Panizzolo

The course starts by problematising the concept of (international) institutions, by questioning historical accounts on institutions, and by presenting relevant nomenclatures, definitions and typologies. The course then compares different perspectives on how world politics is organised – including as a system made of states, as a space for new forms of diplomacy, as a network of relations, or as one imperial state – and examines how each perspective determines what institutions one can study and how. Next, it discusses competing institutionalist approaches, both in general and as they apply to “international” institutions. In the remainder of the course, international institutions will be appraised from a number of different perspectives – as norms, rules, practices, actors or sites - with examples of international organisations employed throughout as the empirical ground where to test theories and concepts. In particular, institutions will be examined as norms in the field of Women, Peace and Security, or through the lenses of symbolic power and practices. To that will follow an appraisal of the concept of governmentality, to examine how institutions are actors and sites for the production of information, facts and policies. The course will conclude with an account of competing approaches for the prospects of international institutions in world politics.

Global Environment Governance

Dr Jai Bhatia

Environment governance has increasingly become important in building a sustainable future against the onslaught of capitalist accumulation. Taking an inter-disciplinary approach, this course draws on economics, politics, anthropology, earth science and ecology to build a deeper understanding of issues in environment governance. This course critically examines the various discourses on environment governance and the implications of various institutions, policies and practices. The course first introduces students to the key theories and debates, and provides them with an overview as well as tools to engage with the issues in environment governance. Then, the course explores the international architecture of environment governance including the key actors and the institutional power blocs. The course also examines the science and politics of climate change followed by topics such as biodiversity and sustainable resource development, environmental changes in urban spaces, clean and renewable energy, and the rise of green finance and the financialisation of the environment. Finally, this course examines environmental activism and social movements at local, national and international levels, and its effectiveness in bringing about change.

Non-Core Options

Information on non-core options is made available at the start of each academic year.

    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 Program Manager 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 transnational and regional institutions of governance such as international organisations, 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 such as World Food Program, the diplomatic service in the UK and other countries, government departments across the globe, NGOs such as Oxfam and WWF, 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).

    See forthcoming events in the series.

    See past events in the series.

    Teaching Awards

    Professor 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.

    The following staff, who teach on the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy, have won Oxford University Teaching Awards:

    • Professor John Gledhill (2013)
    • Dr Ivan Manokha (2020)

    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,