Oxford University Foreign Service Programme
The Oxford University 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. It comprises:
The Foreign Service 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.
This year we will be keeping a Web Diary, which is an ideal place to visit if you are interested in learning more about how the program runs throughout the year.
"I gained significantly from the programme, in terms of academic knowledge, network, and practical skills. I’m really glad to have taken part in this programme" (2015/2016 student)
The FSP enters its 48th year in October 2016 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.”
FSP members are initially admitted on to the Oxford University Postgraduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies, a nine-month full time course running from early October to late June. This is a taught course, assessed by four year-end examinations.
During the first term, members have the opportunity to apply for admission to the Oxford University Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies. The Diploma requires completion of a substantial research project in parallel to the Certificate course. It concludes at the same time as the Certificate course.
FSP members who successfully complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies are eligible to apply to complete the Oxford University Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies on a part-time basis in the following academic year. Access to the Master of Studies is only by progression from the Postgraduate Diploma.
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 Certificate and Diploma courses
All FSP members spend one academic year (nine months) full-time in Oxford. 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, FSP members are encouraged to attend lectures, seminars and other events held elsewhere in the University.
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 FSP 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 2015/6, the course included a day’s joint training with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic Academy.
Please see the outline programme for the academic year 2017/2018 for an example programme.
International Politics, Public International Law, International Trade and Finance
These academic courses are taught 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 FSP members are offered training in media techniques, an essential skill for diplomats, through filmed interviews. All FSP members are offered training in academic writing skills.
Research methods classes
Students of the PG Diploma 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 Foreign Service 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.
FSP members are also welcome to study an additional language using the resources of the University's Language Centre.
Content of the Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies
FSP members accepted for the Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies have the opportunity to undertake further supervised research into an aspect of diplomacy on a part-time, distance-learning basis. They have remote access to Oxford University’s electronic research and library facilities, and benefit from online discussions, seminars and presentations from an Academic Adviser.
- The Postgraduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies requires the completion of the curriculum and four year-end examinations.
- The Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies requires in addition the completion of a Dissertation (12,000 words).
- The Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies requires the completion of a MSt Dissertation (15,000 words) as well as successful completion of the PG Diploma.
College membership and accommodation
FSP 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 should discuss their needs with the Programme Administrator as soon as they are 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 FSP 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
Fees and costs
For information about course fees and the cost of living in Oxford, please visit the Oxford University Graduate Admissions website on the Postgraduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies and Master of Studies in Diplomatic Studies. There is no additional cost for the Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies.
Many FSP members hold scholarships. The deadline for applications to 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 2017/2018 is likely to be in November 2016.
Applications for awards from other international agencies should be addressed to those agencies.
For entry requirements, selection criteria and how to apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies please visit the Oxford University Graduate Admissions website.
Students must begin the Certificate course before they can apply for the Postgraduate Diploma, and must begin the Diploma course before they can apply for the Master of Studies. Please see the entry requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Studies .
If you have any queries about the Foreign Service Programme or the application process, please call us on +44 1865 270455 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support