About the course
This nine-month master’s degree investigates diverse policy issues and the equally diverse structures of governance and diplomacy regulating them – at the international, transnational, state and sub-state levels. The course will equip you to understand, explain and practise governance and diplomacy in the contemporary global era.
The aim of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy is to provide high-quality graduate training in debates about the institutions and processes of global governance, multilateralism, regional integration and diplomacy.
You will take a foundation course; two optional courses from a list of choices; a course on research methods; and prepare a dissertation.
The foundation course is a two-term course consisting of 16 two-hour seminars. You may choose either the Global Governance course or the International Diplomacy course.
The optional courses cover important aspects of global governance and/or diplomacy. Each option consists of eight two-hour seminars.
There is also a mandatory, two-term course on qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences.
Lastly, you will research and prepare a 10,000- to 12,000- word dissertation under the direction of a supervisor, to be submitted towards the end of the final term.
Over the duration of the course you will benefit from a series of plenary lectures. These weekly lectures introduce important issues of global governance and diplomacy and/or provide research-led presentations on related topics, followed by discussion. More information can be found in the Course Handbook.
This generally takes place in small classes to encourage active participation and enable students to learn from each other. Teaching styles are diverse and include lectures, seminars, workshops, and student presentations.
You will be allocated a general supervisor who supports your academic development and with whom you meet regularly. Allocation is based on your research interests, optimal fit with the supervisor’s academic expertise, and staff availability. In cases where dissertation supervision requires expertise that is not available among GGD core staff, the department will try to find a dissertation supervisor with expertise in your chosen field. In addition, you will have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.
During the course, you will receive regular feedback on presentations and practice essays. Such feedback will not count towards your final mark but will prepare you for the formal assessment of your performance at the end of the year. In June, you will be examined in your four courses: your foundation course; your two options; and research methods. The final mark will be aggregated from the results of these examinations and the mark for your dissertation.
The degree aims to prepare you for a career in diplomacy and/or regional and transnational institutions of governance such as international and nongovernmental organisations, and private sector firms interacting with these institutions. It also provides the basis for further education, including doctoral studies.
Graduates of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy have joined the United Nations and other international organisations, the diplomatic service in the UK and abroad, government departments across the globe, NGOs such as Oxfam, and the private sector in fields ranging from investment to energy.
The department offers support for career development through a careers workshop and by maintaining an online network for current students and alumni through which information about employment opportunities is disseminated.
“Perhaps the most interesting dimension of the Oxford MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy is the endless set of possibilities it offers.” Chris Lilyblad, graduated 2011.
- MPhil in Development Studies
- MSc in Economics for Development
- MSc in Migration Studies
- MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies
Changes to the course
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2016-17
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a social science subject.
It is possible for students who have not specialised in a social science to read for the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy. Active diplomats are welcome to apply, though it should be noted that they will compete for admission on equal terms with other students.
Entrance to the course is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.8 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
References/letters of recommendation
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, academic writing ability, suitability for this programme of study, motivation and any other information that is considered to be relevant. Three academic references are required.
Written work produced by the student
You should submit two pieces of written work, which should each be around 2,000 words in length (for example, undergraduate essays) and written in English. Extracts from longer pieces of work are acceptable but if two extracts are submitted they should not come from the same piece of work; and should each be prefaced by a note which puts it in context. Please note that multi-authored works are not acceptable.
This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; power of analysis and expression; and standard academic working techniques.
It is important that the writing samples relate closely to the proposed area of study.
Statement of purpose/personal statement
The statement should be about 500-1,000 words long and written in English.
This will be assessed for your reasons for applying. You should state your motivation and how you believe the degree may contribute to your professional and/or academic career. You should also indicate an awareness of the structure of the degree, for example by stating the foundation course that you might take, and the options that might be of interest. You should also indicate, very briefly, what your dissertation topic might be.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Publications are not expected or required for admission, but any can be listed on the CV.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Relevant experience in developing countries is desirable but is not essential.
- An ability to work both independently and in groups is essential.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Oxford Department of International Development to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Oxford Department of International Development and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
- Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Oxford Department of International Development.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
It is essential to apply as early as possible and to submit all required materials by the advertised deadlines.
A number of the department's master’s students apply to continue doctoral research both at the department and in other departments of the University. Entry requirements and deadlines will differ slightly in each department and details will be available on departmental websites.
The Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) is recognised as one of the world’s leading teaching and research centres in development studies. In the UK’s 2014 Research Excellence Framework it was ranked top in its subject area.
As a student on the course, you will be able to attend the wide range of public seminars organised within the department and a great variety of events across the University. In particular, the Global Governance and Diplomacy Public Speaker Series brings diplomatic practitioners and academic scholars to the department for public lectures. These enable students to interact with experienced professionals and to discuss new perspectives on current diplomatic events and global governance challenges.
Transition to graduate life is helped by a mentorship programme, involving Oxford-based alumni from the degree, and a voluntary Coaching Colloquium where students can discuss academic concerns in a friendly atmosphere.
The Social Sciences Library, the largest freestanding social science library in the UK, is a short walk away. This is complemented by the world-class resources of the Bodleian Library and the satellite libraries in Area Studies, particularly Africa, Asia and Latin America. As alumni of the University, students can sign up for lifetime access to key online journals.
The department provides hot-desking areas with desk-tops, scanning and printing, as well as Wi-Fi access. Technical support is available through the department, your college and the University’s IT Services, which also offer training courses. Course materials are available online via WebLearn, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment.
Teaching takes place in the department’s seminar rooms, and there is a common room area where students from all the department's courses can gather. Light lunches are available during term.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.
For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.
Divisional funding opportunities
Oxford hosts one of 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In 2016 approximately 65 ESRC studentships are available across the Social Sciences. See the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website for details. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded studentships are available for the Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships are available through the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.
Departmental funding opportunities
Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.
Annual fees for entry in 2016-17
Total annual fees
The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).
For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of the website.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy:
- Campion Hall
- Exeter College
- Green Templeton College
- Hertford College
- Kellogg College
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Magdalen College
- Pembroke College
- The Queen's College
- Regent's Park College
- St Anne's College
- St Antony's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- Somerville College
- Trinity College
- Wolfson College
It is not necessary for you to contact potential supervisors or other academic members of staff prior to submitting an application. New MSc students are informed about their supervisor during their induction sessions.
The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises:
- a statement of purpose of 500-1,000 words, including a brief indication of your intended thesis topic
- a CV/résumé
- three academic references
- official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date
- two relevant academic essays or other writing samples of 2,000 words each, or 2,000-word extracts from longer work(s).
It is important that the writing samples relate closely to the proposed area of study. Extracts from longer pieces of work are acceptable but if two extracts are submitted they should not come from the same piece of work; and should each be prefaced by a note which puts it in context. Please note that multi-authored works are not acceptable.
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.