Diplomatic Theory and Practice (Online)


4 locations available

Program Description

Why do we need diplomats?

Diplomats are members of a profession developed over many centuries. But why do we still need them in a world transformed by electronic communications? This course examines the nature of diplomacy; when it is appropriate; the advantages and disadvantages of different diplomatic methods; and the lexicon of diplomacy.

By the end of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Describe and explain with clarity the shape and functions of the contemporary world diplomatic system.
  • Identify and describe the different stages of negotiations, the objectives for each stage, and techniques for securing agreement, providing examples from diplomatic practice.
  • Compare and contrast the various missions, offices, conferences, techniques and procedures of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.
  • Analyze what contributes to a successful mediation.
  • Justify the role of summits and their place in the negotiating arena.
  • Defend the value of diplomacy with authority and enthusiasm.

Course Reviews

Diplo's Diplomatic Theory and Practice course is truly a MUST for any newcomer or professional diplomat who is in need of polishing or refreshing their knowledge on the basics of diplomacy in the modern world. Personally, I found the course of great benefit because it gave me the opportunity to apply theory to reality by exploring how different aspects of diplomacy are practiced on a daily basis and learning to recognize such theories at first glance.

Kathleen Nina Tupou, Assistant Secretary, Palace Office, Tonga

Diplomatic Theory and Practice course has been a wonderful surprise. The main lecture was enormously useful to my academic and personal knowledge in diplomacy. What I like the most was that I got the great opportunity to learn from all my course mates' own diplomatic experiences.

Alejandro Lozano, Commissioner of Political and Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Mexico to Vatican City (Holy See)

Course outline

  1. The Diplomatic Moment: diplomacy: a specialized activity; the diplomatic moment: the conditions that encourage diplomacy; diplomatic systems and diplomatic styles; the world diplomatic system in outline.
  2. Negotiations: pre-negotiations, formula, and details stages; the objectives sought in each and the difficulties peculiar to them; techniques for securing agreement, for example 'linkage'.
  3. Diplomatic Momentum: how the momentum of negotiation can be maintained and if lost, regained; deadlines, metaphors of movement, publicity, and raising the level of the talks; packaging agreements and following up.
  4. Telecommunications: forms, uses, and limitations of telecommunication in diplomacy, including particular reference to telephone diplomacy in crises (including “hotlines”) and video-conferencing.
  5. Bilateral Diplomacy: embassies, consular posts, and unconventional resident missions such as interests sections and representative offices; why they are the major part of the modern counter-revolution in diplomatic practice.
  6. Multilateral Diplomacy: ad hoc and standing conferences; questions of procedure: venue, membership, agenda, transparency, and above all decision-making; the triumph of 'consensus-decision making' and its various techniques, for example, NATO’s silence procedure.
  7. Mediation: good offices, conciliation, and mediation; the motives of mediators (track one and track two); multi-party mediation; is there an 'ideal' mediator? The ripe moment and whether there is such a thing as a premature mediation.
  8. Summitry: The Diplomatist’s Bane: the case for the defense: serial summits, ad hoc summits (including funeral diplomacy), the high-level exchange of views; secrets of summit success.

Who should apply

This course will be of interest to:

  • Practicing diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programs or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practicing diplomats.
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy.
  • Journalists, the staff of international and non-governmental organizations, translators, business people and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.


This course is conducted entirely online over a period of ten weeks. Reading materials and tools for online interaction are provided through an online classroom. Each week, participants read the provided lecture text, adding questions, comments, and references in the form of hypertext entries. Lecturers and other participants read and respond to these entries, creating interaction based on the lecture text. During the week, participants complete additional online activities (e.g. further discussion via blogs or forums, quizzes, group tasks, simulations or short assignments). At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet online in a chat room to discuss the week’s topic. To complete the course successfully, participants must write several essay assignments. Courses are based on a collaborative approach to learning, involving a high level of interaction.

This course requires a minimum of five to seven hours of study time per week.

Last updated October 2019

About the School

DiploFoundation is a non-profit institution established by the governments of Malta and Switzerland in 2002. Diplo works to increase the role of small and developing states, and to improve global gove ... Read More

DiploFoundation is a non-profit institution established by the governments of Malta and Switzerland in 2002. Diplo works to increase the role of small and developing states, and to improve global governance and international policy development. Read less
Msida , Belgrade , Washington , Geneva + 3 More Less