The University of Strathclyde is launching a new course called MSc in Diplomacy and International Security which will start next year. It gives graduates from a range of academic backgrounds the opportunity to gain expertise in a vital area of international engagement. It will also appeal to professionals interested in moving into positions requiring a breadth of knowledge on diplomacy, history and security issues.

The course has links with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Consular Missions in Edinburgh. Distinguished diplomatic and foreign policy practitioners will contribute to the programme and students will have the opportunity to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. The programme director Rogelia Pastor-Castro gave a detailed outlook on the newly launched course. Excerpts:

Q. How did the course on MSc in Diplomacy and International Security come about?

Here at the University of Strathclyde, colleagues in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have research interests in various aspects of international security as well as diplomacy. We wanted to bring together all this expertise and give students the opportunity to engage in a truly interdisciplinary experience on issues of vital relevance in today’s world.

Diplomacy and international security are among the most pressing issues facing the world today. Our colleagues in politics, history and law already share their expertise with international organisations, government and think-tanks, it was therefore important to have our students benefit from this engagement.

Q. Kindly elaborate on the new course.

The new MSc course will cover a broad range of international subjects in history, politics and law. Core classes will give students the opportunity to study the evolution of diplomacy as well as the theory and practice of the discipline. Students will also take a class in order to prepare for the 15,000-word dissertation they will submit at the end of the programme.

There are a number of optional modules combining diplomacy, international history and security, such as, for example, diplomacy and conflict resolution in the Arab-Israeli dispute, diplomacy and European security, and propaganda, intelligence and subversion in the colonial world.

Classes such as contemporary security challenges and responses give students the opportunity to engage with issues ranging from the impact of climate change, natural disasters and resource security. Optional classes in law cover subjects like terrorism and human rights.

This course is taught mainly through face-to-face teaching where class time is spent discussing and debating the weekly topic during two-hour weekly seminars. But the programme is not just about engaging with academics, students will also engage with distinguished diplomatic and foreign policy practitioners.

Academics involved in this programme have links with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, NATO and the Consular Missions in Edinburgh. And here at Strathclyde, for example, Lord Brown, former UK defence secretary is Strathclyde visiting professor in the department of government and public policy.

Q. What are the basic requirements to apply for it?

First or upper second-class Honours degree, or international equivalent, in history, social sciences/law subjects or substantial professional experience. Applicants are required to have a suitable minimum level of competency in the English language if their first language is not English or if they have not been educated wholly or mainly in the medium of English. For postgraduate studies, the university requires a minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 (with no score below 6.0) or equivalent. Tests are valid for two years. Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

Q. What can the students expect once they complete the course?

The MSc Diplomacy and International Security gives graduates from a range of academic backgrounds the opportunity to gain expertise in a vital area of international engagement. Having mastered a breadth of knowledge on diplomacy, history and security issues students can expect to pursue professional careers in a number of areas including government and international organisations.

Engagement with academics who act as advisers and practitioners will give students the background and knowledge to pursue their interests. The teaching and assessments components also equip students with a range of transferable skills, amongst them data collection and analysis and the ability to articulate complex concepts to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Q. How will it contribute in shaping the future workforce?

It will be beneficial for various research and policy roles, and for those students wishing to gain employment in the civil service, media and the third sector. The strong research training provided also means that this course will act as a route into doctoral studies in the fields of history, politics, international relations, law and security studies.

Q. Elaborate on the opportunities to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

One of the most exciting parts of this programme is the combination of academic rigour with practitioners’ expertise. In my role as Secretary of the British International History Group, and as part of my research projects I engage with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I have organised events there bringing historians and diplomats together to discuss embassies and the diplomatic practice. It is important for students on our programme to hear from FCO staff about the historical context of security issues and the challenges they face.

Q. What significant changes will the course bring in the field of diplomacy?

Diplomacy has a long established pedigree; embassies have long been integral to international diplomacy, their staff instrumental to inter-governmental dialogue, strategic partnerships, trading relationships and cultural exchange. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme allows students to engage with the strategic objectives of the diplomatic practice, and to analyse how diplomacy can respond to international security issues.

In today’s world diplomats need to manage many different tasks and need to have the ability to combine policy expertise, critical engagement and leadership. This programme provides a comprehensive set of tools for those who seek to further their nation’s interests.