Foundations of Diplomacy Pre-Master's Course

Course details

Pre-Master's Course in Diplomacy 2020-21

The Foundations of Diplomacy Course offers a unique blend of academic and highly practical classes. It not only teaches you how to communicate clearly and confidently in spoken and written English, but also helps you to develop superior analytical, critical thinking, and presentation skills. It is aimed at students who are considering a career in diplomacy or intending to work for a government ministry, think tank, NGO or international organisation.

Coronavirus update

The admissions cycle for this programme is progressing as planned, and the University is committed to ensuring that offer holders can take up their place as expected. The course will be taught face-to-face as far as possible and within the Government guidelines.

Oxford University has a central webpage which is being kept up-to-date with the latest guidance on the coronavirus. You should also check the latest UK government advice.

Course Structure

The course offers you a thorough grounding in diplomatic theory and practice, as well as introductory courses in international relations, political economy, politics and ideology, and public international law. It is suitable for students who have no previous knowledge of diplomacy, politics and international relations.

The first two weeks of your course (28 September - 9 October) will be delivered entirely online.

Your course begins with a dynamic one-week Academic and Cultural Orientation programme, followed by two 11-week terms.

Academic and Cultural Orientation Week (28 September - 2 October 2020)

To ensure you settle into university life at Oxford, our Academic and Cultural Orientation Week has been designed to offer you a smooth transition not only to your full-time academic studies, but also to help you integrate successfully into everyday life in the UK.

Here are some of the sessions you can expect:

  • Oxford and its university
  • Cultural adjustment
  • Introduction to British culture and values
  • Self and time management skills
  • Writing a personal statement
  • Interpreting assessment criteria and feedback
  • Sourcing scholarly literature online

The Academic and Cultural Orientation week will be provided online.

Michaelmas Term (5 October - 18 December, 2020)

The first week of your course (5 – 9 October) will be delivered synchronously and asynchronously online.

From Monday 12 October, teaching will be delivered in a variety of formats. Each week, students can expect to receive three days of face-to-face classes and one day of online synchronous seminars. They will be expected to follow three video lectures each week which can be accessed at any time through the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment.

For information on the different modes of delivery please consult our Michaelmas term 2020 timetable.

Please note that the mode of delivery for each class (detailed below) is liable to change at very short notice. Should face-to-face teaching not be possible, all of the classes would be delivered online.

There will be a maximum of 8 students per class.

Academic and Diplomatic Practice Module

English Language Module*

Academic Literacy Module

Weekly Individual Academic Literacy Tutorial

All students receive a weekly individual academic literacy tutorial which provides personalised academic writing support. For Michaelmas term, tutorials will be delivered either face-to-face or synchronously online. Tutorials are arranged at mutually convenient times for students and tutors.

*Students who are native speakers of English or who have a high degree of fluency in the language (IELTS 7.5 and above) are exempted from the English Language Module and, in lieu, take a Personalised Academic Study Option (below). They are also stongly encouraged to follow classes in academic literacy and critical thinking over two terms.

Hilary Term (11 January - 26 March, 2021)

The delivery format of the classes is liable to change.

You take all of the classes below:

Academic and Diplomatic Practice Module

English Language Module

Academic Literacy Module

Weekly Individual Academic Literacy Tutorial

All students receive a weekly individual academic literacy tutorial which provides personalised academic writing support.


Personalised Academic Study Option

Students who have been exempted from the English Language Module must choose ONE academic course of study from a wide range of options in areas such as international relations, politics, philosophy, law and history from the University's varied undergraduate lecture programme. You will be required to submit an assignment of 2,500 words each term on your chosen option.

Please note that for Michaelmas term 2020 all of the undergraduate student lectures will be delivered online. 

New Course for 2020 

Foundations of Diplomacy course students who have been exempted from the English Language and Literacy Module will have the opportunity to take a face-to-face lecture series on rhetoric. Class size will be limited to a maximum of 8 students.

Rhetoric - Lecture series

UK and international study visits

Under normal circumstances Foundations of Diplomacy students participate in a number of study visits to London and to Vienna. Because of the Covid-19 situation we, regrettably, are not in a position to arrange any visits during Michaelmas term.


Course books and materials

All course books and study materials for both academic and English language and literacy modules are included in your course fees.

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Programme details

Term dates 2020-21

  • Academic and Cultural Orientation Week (28 September - 2 October 2020)
  • Michaelmas Term  (5 October - 18 December 2020)
  • Hilary Term (11 January - 26 March 2021)

Please click here for a sample course timetable. Please note that the timetable is liable to change at very short notice.

Entry requirements

We welcome applications from native speakers of English, as well as from international students whose first language is not English. The course is open to graduates and non graduates.

Graduate applicants

If you are intending to apply for admission to a Master’s degree on successful completion of the course you should hold a good first degree in any subject. Applicants should note that successful completion of the pre-Master's course does not guarantee progression to Master's degree courses at Oxford for which separate application is necessary.

Non-graduate applicants

We welcome applications from those with a strong interest in the fields of diplomacy, politics and international relations who may have no formal qualifications but who would like to follow an intellectually stimulating and engaging interdisciplinary course. Importantly, we are looking for a high level of commitment, as well as the capacity for intellectual growth and development. Admission will be based on information provided in the application form and at interview. We may also ask you for evidence of written work. If you have any questions concerning your suitability for admission and would like to discuss your interest in the course with us, please contact our programme administrator at or call us on 01865 280191.

Course aims

The Foundations of Diplomacy Course aims to help you develop your expertise in practical diplomacy, deepen your knowledge of European and international affairs and rapidly improve your academic writing skills.

FAQs - Frequently asked questions

View some of the most frequently asked questions. If you cannot find an answer to your question, please email us at


Successful students will receive a University of Oxford Certificate of Course Completion.

Assessment methods

Academic Assessment Requirements

In Michaelmas term you will be required to prepare three assignments and in Hilary Term you will be required to prepare four assignments. These may take the form of an essay, a report or brief, or a presentation.


As a Department, we are not in a position to offer accommodation for the duration of the course, and students should be aware that it is ultimately their own responsibility to secure accommodation.

However, we are happy to provide students with advice on finding suitable accommodation in Oxford.

Course fees

The per person course fees for the six-month programme are £15,965. Please note that the fees do not include accommodation.

College Associate Membership (optional)

The possibility of applying for college associate membership is available to you and incurs an additional fee. For further details, please contact the Programme Administrator, Thomas Lawrie, at


We are, unfortunately, unable to offer any scholarships for the Foundations of Diplomacy Course 2020-21 at present.

How to apply

You should email us:

  • your completed application form
  • a personal statement of 500 words (max.)
  • a copy of your university/college transcript(s)
  • a copy of your IELTS (Academic) certificate (if applicable). You must have taken an IELTS Test (or internationally recognised equivalent) before submitting your application. Minimum test score of 6.5
  • digital photo (headshot)

In addition to the above, please ask an academic referee to email a letter of reference directly to

Your application will not be considered unless you provide all the documentation requested above including the letter of reference. Applications for 2020-21 are now closed as our application was the 28 August. If you wish to apply for the next run of the course in 2021-22, then please email us at

When we have received your completed application form and all related documentation, you will be contacted by the Course Administrator who will arrange an interview with the Course Director.