MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy | University of Oxford
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The Radcliffe Camera, through the window of the Bodleian Library
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MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy

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, 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 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.

Graduate destinations

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 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.

Related courses

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 2018-19

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:

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(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.

5. Assessors

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. 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 WebLearn, 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 are available during term.


There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Further information on scholarships and funding opportunities specific to this academic department is also provided on the Oxford Department of International Development's funding webpage.


Annual fees for entry in 2018-19

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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 this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

Temporarily unavailable | University of Oxford

The University of Oxford website is temporarily unavailable

Here is a selection of some of our popular services that may currently still be available:

Colleges and departments of the University manage their own websites and these can be found through search engines such as Google or Bing.

We apologise for the inconvenience and aim to restore the site as quickly as possible.

Living costs

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 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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.

How to apply

It is not necessary for you to contact potential supervisors or other academic members of staff before you apply. New MSc students are informed about their supervisor during their induction sessions.

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:
500 to 1,000 words

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

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.

This will be assessed for your reasons for applying.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. 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.

It is preferable, though not mandatory, that the writing samples relate closely to the subject matter of the degree.

Please note that multi-authored works are not acceptable. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

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.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which 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.

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. Academic references are required.

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