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The MA/PGDip International Studies and Diplomacy (ISD) programme is designed for those engaged in, or planning to embark upon, a professional career requiring international expertise in government, not-for-profit, corporate or academic environments.

ISD aims to prepare students for a variety of roles, such as working within a Foreign Service or other government department; international civil service (such as the United Nations or European Union); international NGOs (working in fields such as development, humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution); multinational corporations and international media. The programme also suits those engaged in or considering research roles within a policy think tank, risk analysis organisation or doctoral programme and seeking to deepen their academic and practical understanding of international affairs and contemporary diplomatic practice.

The programme has a multi-disciplinary structure and draws on the teaching and research strengths of CISD and of the SOAS departments of International Politics, Law, Economics and area studies (especially of Asia, Africa and the Middle East) as well as a wide range of languages. Students choose a combination of modules to meet their specific professional needs and personal interests.

Students on this course will have the opportunity to participate in CISD's Study Tour of Geneva.

Programme Objectives

  • Excellent inter-disciplinary understanding of key concepts, theories and debates in the study of international affairs
  • Excellent knowledge of international policy debates and principle issues from perspectives of both the global North and South
  • Ability to undertake critical analysis of contemporary international policy issues and challenges
  • Development of module specific practical skills such as policy analysis and policy advocacy, negotiation, mediation, communication and media relations.

We welcome applications from academically strong individuals from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds; however, it is not necessary to have a first degree in a discipline directly related to the programme.

Each application is assessed on its individual merits and entry requirements may be modified in light of relevant professional experience and where the applicant can demonstrate a sustained practical interest in the international field.

Teaching & Learning

The programme may be taken in one year (full time) or in two or three years part time (MA only), with the schedule designed to allow participation by those in full-time employment. Participants may choose a combination of modules to meet their professional needs and personal interests. The programme is convened on a multi-disciplinary basis, and teaching is through lectures, tutorials and workshops conducted by SOAS faculty and visiting specialists.

The Centre endeavours to make as many of the modules for International Studies and Diplomacy (ISD) accessible to part-time students. Where possible the majority of CISD lectures are at 18.00; however, lecture times will be rotated on a yearly basis for some modules (between evening and daytime slots) so that part-time students will have access to as many modules as possible over the duration of their degree. Associated tutorials are repeated in hourly slots with the latest taking place at 20.00. Students sign up for tutorial groups at the start of term and stay in the same group throughout the academic year. There is a minimum of two and a half hours formal teaching a week (lecture and tutorial) for each ISD module taken. Practical exercises may take place at weekends.

Teaching includes

  • Wide range of modules: Diplomatic Studies and Practice, International Relations, International Economics, International Law, and International Security
  • Wide choice of electives: Global Energy and Climate Policy, Multinational Enterprises in a Globalising World or a module offered by other SOAS departments (e.g. Development Studies, Politics, Economics, Law, Languages)
  • Interaction with diplomats, policy makers, NGO officials and other international practitioners.
  • Training in negotiation, policy analysis, policy advocacy, communication and media and other skills through practical exercises including strategy, communication and media workshops, moots courts, and negotiation and mediation workshops.

Further activities

Included in the degree programme:

  • Week long study trip to United Nations organisations in Geneva
  • Media and communication skills training by current and former BBC staff
  • Guest lectures by leading scholars and senior practitioners, and policy conferences (visit the CISD website to listen to the podcasts)
  • Opportunities to actively participate in Centre research programmes

Visit the International Studies and Diplomacy - MA/PGDip page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

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