Key Facts

Course Title: Diplomatic Studies
Course type: MA, MRes
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Kathryn Ainsworth
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Politics and International Relations


diplomatic studies In international politics, the primary day-to-day means of contact between states is through the institution of diplomacy. A rich legal tradition of how this diplomacy is governed has evolved, and the practices of diplomacy by states continue to change and shape the patterns of world politics around us. So one important way to understand international politics is to examine the practices of diplomats and the contexts within which they operate.

Keele's MA/MRes in Diplomatic Studies aims to meet this need. The first of its kind in the UK, it continues to provide a solid, advanced grounding in the legal foundations, and the theory and practice of diplomacy. Many students on the course are from diplomatic backgrounds, and so the course provides a useful link between the worlds of academia and of practical policy-making.

The course is taught over a 12 month period (September-September; January-January). It is available as a full-time and/or part-time mode of study. Students completing the course have gone on to a variety of careers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Aims of the Course

The course aims to ground students in the central legal, theoretical and practical aspects of diplomacy. It does this within a context of a more general understanding of International Relations. It also prepares students for research – both research that they may do for their dissertation, but also research that they may undertake in their future academic or professional work. The optional modules and the dissertation give students a broad scope in which to pursue topics of their own choosing.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students should have a first or good second-class honours degree, or its equivalent. This first degree should be in Politics or International Relations, or any other social science subject (e.g. Law or Sociology), or a humanities subject (e.g. History, Philosophy, English, or Modern languages).

Where English is not a first language, proof of English language competence will be required (IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-test).

Course Content

Semester 1

Semester 2


Advanced Approaches to Politics and International Relations

Perspectives in Politics and International Relations


Research in Action

Three optional modules

Two optional modules


Optional modules include:

  • Crisis, Continuity and Change: Trends and Issues in Contemporary Global History
  • Diplomatic Law
  • Diplomatic Practice
  • Environmental Diplomacy
  • Human Rights and Global Politics
  • International Environmental Law
  • Maritime Security
  • Rethinking Fault-Lines: Beyond the East/West Divide in Global Politics
  • The Changing International Agenda
  • The EU and the Global Commons
  • The Theory of Global Security
  • War, Memory and Popular Culture
  • Approaches to Dialogue
  • Climate Change: Governance, Power and Society
  • Comparative European Politics
  • Dimensions of Environmental Politics
  • Environmental Decision Making: The Case of Complex Technologies
  • Equality, Discrimination and Minorities
  • Foundations of Human Rights
  • Green Political Theory
  • Learning and Research Skills
  • Parties and Democracy
  • Party Politics and the European Union
  • Race and Justice: Civil Rights in the US
  • The Politics of Sin: Culture Wars in the US
  • The US Presidency and Public Policy

Teaching and Assessment

Postgraduate teaching and learning generally takes place in a combination of large seminars and smaller discussion groups.  Our academics typically lead the sessions, encouraging discussion between all students. Sometimes students will give presentations, either individually or in groups.

There is a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are expected to work on their own to produce their essays and dissertation. Most modules are assessed by a diverse range of coursework (e.g., essays, critiques, reports, presentations), though some modules may also be assessed by seminar contributions and/or written exams. Students take three modules in each semester. The taught modules are completed by May, leaving the summer months for students to write their dissertation.

Additional Costs

Apart from purchasing textbooks and other sundry materials, no significant additional costs are compulsory for this course. 

world map SPIRE is a thoroughly international school, and is particularly welcoming to international students, as well as providing plenty of opportunities for home students to broaden their horizons.

We have staff with educational backgrounds in a wide variety of countries, such as Sweden, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Turkey, who present their research all around the world. Students have the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers from various different countries, arranged through our ERASMUS partnerships.

International students will join established international communities at Keele, and will find plenty of support mechanisms in place to help them make the transition to study in the UK (see the ‘International Applicants’ button above).