Spires and top of crenelated wall of the Bodleian
The exterior of the Bodleian library
(Image credit: Liam Peck / Graduate Photography Competition)

MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy

About the course

This nine-month master’s degree investigates a broad range of policy issues related to the institutions and processes of global governance and diplomacy – at international, transnational, state, and domestic levels. The course equips you to understand and explain global governance and diplomacy, and prepares you for a career in these areas and beyond.

Course objectives

By focusing on the institutions and processes of global governance and diplomacy, the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy enables students not only to develop a big-picture view of world politics but also to specialise on topical aspects and make an original contribution based on their own research.

Course structure

You take a foundation course, two optional courses from a list of choices, a course on research methods, and write a dissertation.

The foundation course is a two-term course running over 16 weeks and covering fundamental issues of global governance and international diplomacy.

The optional courses cover important aspects of global governance and/or diplomacy. Each option consists of eight two-hour seminars. 

There is a mandatory, two-term course on qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences. 

Lastly, you will research and write 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 and other events. The speakers discuss important issues of global governance and diplomacy and/or provide research-led presentations followed by discussion.

For more information, including the course handbook and further details about course offerings, see our course page on the departmental website.

Teaching and learning

Most of the department's teaching takes place in small classes to encourage active participation and enable students to learn from each other. Teaching styles vary and include lectures, seminars, workshops, and student presentations. Readings for a seminar class are normally in the order of five to seven articles, or 100-150 pages per week. 

Students and staff are passionate about research for graduate dissertations, which are due in late May or early June. Your general and dissertation supervisor(s) will support you in your academic development and you will meet them regularly. In addition, you will have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.


The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Oxford Department of International Development. 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.


During the course, you will receive regular feedback on presentations and practice essays. Such feedback does not count towards your final mark but prepares you for the formal assessment of your performance at the end of the degree. In June, you will be examined in your four courses: the foundation course, your two options and research methods. Your final mark will be aggregated from the results of these examinations and the mark for your dissertation.

Graduate destinations

The degree prepares you for a career in diplomacy and/or transnational and regional institutions of governance such as international organisations, 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, such as the World Food Programme, the diplomatic service of the UK and other countries, government departments across the globe, NGOs like Oxfam and WWF, and the private sector in fields ranging from investment to energy. Read more about the kinds of careers the department’s students pursue on the ODID Alumni page

Read more about the kinds of careers the department’s students pursue on the ODID Alumni page.

“GGD brings together an extraordinarily diverse group of students who share a passion for international affairs and development and yet are able to specialise in a wide range of topics of personal interest throughout the programme.” Rafael Saiz Garcia, graduated 2017.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Courses suggested by the faculty

International Relations MPhil

Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a social science subject.

The MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy is one of the most competitive master’s degrees in Oxford’s Social Sciences division. Selection happens on the basis of excellence. Almost all successful applicants have a first-class degree or equivalent.

We value students with diverse academic backgrounds and are happy to consider students who have not specialised in a social science. Active diplomats are welcome to apply, although it should be noted that everyone competes for admission on equal terms with all other applicants.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.8 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Relevant working experience is desirable but not essential.
  • An ability to work independently is essential.
  • Publications are not expected or required for admission, but you may list any on your CV.

Further guidance

  • It is essential to submit all required materials by the advertised deadlines. 
  • A number of our graduates apply to continue with doctoral research at the department or in other departments of the University. Entry requirements and deadlines differ slightly in each department. Details are available on departmental websites.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Supporting documents 

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process for this degree.


Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.

Students are considered for shortlisting and 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course.  In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.


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 a 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.

Our series of Plenary Lectures familiarises you with the research of core staff, often followed by a walk or student-organised visit in a pub. Transition to graduate life is helped by 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 nearby. This is complemented by the world-class resources of the Bodleian Library and the satellite libraries. As alumni of the University, students can sign up for lifetime access to key online journals.

IT support

The department provides hot-desking areas with desk-tops 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 Canvas, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment.

Departmental facilities

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 in the cafeteria are available during term.


The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.


Annual fees for entry in 2022-23

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Additional information

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.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2022-23, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy:

How to apply

It is neither necessary nor customary for you to contact potential supervisors or other academic members of staff before you apply. Incoming students are informed about their supervisor at the induction sessions in early October.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
From a minimum of 500 words up to a maximum of 1,000 words

You need to provide a statement of purpose, written in English.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

You should state your motivation and how you believe the degree may contribute to your professional development and/or academic career. You should indicate an awareness of the structure of the degree, for example by stating the options courses that you are most interested in. You should also indicate, very briefly, what your dissertation topic might be.

Written work:
Two essays, from a minimum of 1,500 words to a maximum of 3,000 words each

We require two academic essays or other writing samples, usually from your most recent or ongoing degree. Extracts from longer pieces of work are acceptable and should be prefaced by a short note that puts them into context. If two extracts are submitted, they should not come from the same piece of work. All writing samples must be in English.

It is preferable, though not mandatory, that the writing samples relate closely to the subject matter of the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy.

Please note that multi-authored work is not acceptable. The word limit includes bibliography or footnotes if there are any.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed at the end of each writing sample.

Writing samples are assessed for understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend arguments; power of analysis and expression; and familiarity with standard academic working techniques.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, at least two of these must be academic

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.

A helpful reference will speak to your intellectual ability, academic achievement, academic writing ability, suitability for this programme of study, motivation and any other information that is deemed to be relevant.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.

Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:

Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application GuideApply

Was this page useful?*