Oxford University Diplomatic Studies Programme

Key facts

Full-time course

Call +44 (0)1865 270455 to discuss

Applicants for the MSt in Diplomatic Studies who come from Commonwealth countries are eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Such applicants should apply by the January application deadline if possible.



Application status

  • Application closed

Oxford University Diplomatic Studies Programme

The Oxford University Diplomatic Studies Programme (DSP), also known as the Foreign Service Programme (FSP), is a set of courses in diplomatic studies, for practising diplomats and others with similar professional experience.  It offers not just academic study but also vocational training for aspiring diplomatic leaders.  From 2018, it comprises:

Oxford University Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies

Oxford University Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies

The Diplomatic Studies Programme aims to equip its members with the knowledge and skills required for diplomacy in the 21st century, and the confidence on which to build a successful diplomatic career within a foreign ministry, international organisation or elsewhere. 

"FSP can be a life changing experience and it will open doors to a brighter future. Let alone the academic value of programme, the network of friends, academics, diplomats, and experts you will develop is unimaginably valuable and it will help you in the future to develop a successful career." (2016/17 member)

Last year we kept a Web Diary, which is an ideal place to visit if you are interested in learning more about how the programme runs throughout the year.

“I would highly recommend the Foreign Service Programme to anyone looking for a programme in international relations that blends theory with diplomatic practice. The programme is well run and I have no doubt all professional lives will be richer for it.” (2016/17 Student)

The FSP enters its 50th year in October 2018 and its graduates, who have included royalty and Prime Ministers as well as Ambassadors, now occupy a large number of senior posts in the international field.  It is distinctive in the close relationship it enjoys with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and senior diplomatic practitioners.  Our members come from an extremely broad range of countries, and benefit significantly from exchange of experience between each other and with alumni.

According to the independent External Examiner (2015 Report):

“This is a very successful programme that provides much needed training opportunities for very able students wishing to enter or further their career in diplomatic services across the globe.”

“The programme sets out – and clearly achieves – an ambitious set of learning objectives that tests students’ professional, technical and knowledge skills across a broad range of relevant subjects. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme is itself innovative and best practice.” 

DSP structure

Applicants may apply to either the Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies or the Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies.

The Oxford University Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies is a nine-month (October-June), full-time course requiring residence in Oxford. It comprises four taught courses and is assessed by four year-end examinations.

The Oxford University Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies is a twelve-month (October-September), full-time course requiring residence in Oxford.  In addition to the four taught courses and year-end examinations of the Postgraduate Diploma, it entails completion of a substantial research project.

Those admitted to the PG Diploma will have the opportunity to apply to transfer to the Master of Studies mid-year, subject to UK visa requirements.

More senior diplomats, instead of following the normal curriculum, may apply to carry out, during part or all of the academic year, full-time research into an agreed relevant subject proposed by them as Visiting Fellows.  They are then closely associated with the course and may participate in the year’s events.


Content of the Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Studies courses

The core curriculum comprises an intensive course on aspects of current Diplomatic Practice, and the academic study of International Politics, Public International Law and International Trade and Finance. As full members of the University, DSP members are encouraged to attend lectures, seminars and other events held elsewhere in the University. 

Diplomatic Practice

The Diplomatic Practice course comprises a mixture of seminars, tutorials and vocational training exercises as well as study tours.  A wide variety of academics, diplomatic practitioners and others deliver seminars and lectures.  All  DSP members take part in practical exercises in diplomacy, for example in multilateral negotiation, crisis management and lobbying, and benefit from opportunities to develop their diplomatic writing, oral presentation and analytical skills. 

As part of the Diplomatic Practice course, all members take part in study tours in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, visiting international organisations, government ministries, multinational companies and media institutions.

In recent years, the course has included a day’s joint training with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic Academy.

Please see the outline programme for the academic year 2018/2019 for an example programme.

International Politics, Public International Law, International Trade and Finance

These academic courses are taught to PG Diploma and MSt students together through a mixture of seminars and tutorials.  Members will gain a broad academic and critical understanding of each subject, and will learn how to research and write academic essays.

Media techniques and academic writing

All DSP members are offered training in media techniques, an essential skill for diplomats, through filmed interviews.  All DSP members are offered training in academic writing skills.

Research methods classes

Students of the MSt in Diplomatic Studies will take classes in research methodology.


The working language of the course is English.  For non-native speakers, advanced English language classes offer the opportunity to refine and hone professional language skills, including for diplomacy.  Even for native English speakers, one benefit of the Diplomatic Studies Programme is the opportunity it offers to build up and polish to a very high and sustained standard of effectiveness and fluency their command of the English language, the major international and diplomatic language in today’s world.

DSP members are also welcome to study an additional language using the resources of the University's Language Centre.

Meet our tutors.

Content of the Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies

DSP members admitted to the Master of Studies will, in parallel to the taught courses, conduct supervised research and prepare a 15,000-word dissertation, on a topic relevant to one of more of the subjects covered in the taught courses.


  • The Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies requires the completion of the curriculum and four year-end examinations.
  • The Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies requires the submission of a MSt dissertation (15,000 words). In addition to the completion of the curriculum and four year-end examinations.

College membership and accommodation

DSP members become full members of both the University and one of the Colleges of the University. The college will normally provide the member's accommodation.  Some colleges offer accommodation for couples and families; if participants require this, they are advised to research options in advance and specify one of these colleges as their preference at the time of application. Applicants are encouraged to  discuss their needs with the Programme Administrator  once offered a place on the course.  Accommodation is adequate but of a student level, with limited facilities.  If participants would prefer a higher standard of accommodation, they will need to find and rent it at their own expense.   

Who should apply?

Most DSP members are early- to mid- career diplomats, proposed for the course by their governments. Non-diplomats with a good honours degree and professional experience in the international field (in any sector) are welcome to apply.

Our students come from all over the world.

Frequently asked questions

View some of the most frequently asked questions. If you cannot find an answer to your question, please call us on +44 1865 270455 or email us at dsp@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Fees and costs

For information about the course fee and the cost of living in Oxford, please visit the Oxford University Graduate Admissions webpages for the Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies and Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies

Any member transferring mid-year from the Postgraduate Diploma to the Master of Studies will be required to pay the difference in fees at the point of transfer.


Many DSP members hold scholarships. The deadline for applications to external scholarship schemes is usually in the autumn, so early action is recommended. Please see the Chevening website for information, eligibility and how to apply for UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chevening Scholarships. Alternatively you might enquire at your local British diplomatic mission. The deadline for Chevening Scholarship applications for 2019/20  is 6 November 2018.

Citizens of developing Commonwealth countries applying to the MSt in Diplomatic Studies are eligible for Commonwealth Scholarships.  Applicants should apply directly to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission as well as to the MSt in Diplomatic Studies.

Applications for awards from other international agencies should be addressed to those agencies.

The vast majority of Oxford University scholarships are awarded to applicants who submit their application by the January deadline. Those who apply before this date will be automatically considered for scholarships where they fulfil the eligibility criteria.

The University Fees and Funding page provides more information, including a search function for course-specific funding.


Please visit the course pages on the Oxford Univeristy Graduate Admissions website for entry requirements, selection criteria and how to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Studies.

Applicants whom are resident in low-income countries and low-middle income countries may have the application fee waived for this course. For further information, please contact the Course Administrator.

The deadlines for 2019 entry are 25 January 2019 and 1 March 2019.

Contact us

If you have any queries about the Diplomatic Studies Programme or the application process, please call us on +44 1865 270455 or email us at dsp@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support