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 a broad range of policy issues surrounding the institutions and processes of global governance and diplomacy – at international, transnational, state, and domestic levels. The course will equip you to understand and explain global governance and diplomacy, and prepare you for a career in these areas and beyond.


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 and diplomacy.


You will 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 also 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. These introduce important issues of global governance and diplomacy and/or provide research-led presentations followed by discussion.

More information, including the course handbook and further details about course offerings, is available on our course page on the department's website.


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.

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, 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, your general supervisor 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 does not count towards your final mark but will prepare 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. 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 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 in the UK and other countries, government departments across the globe, NGOs such as Oxfam and WWF, and the private sector in fields ranging from investment to energy.

“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.

Other courses in this area

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 2019-20

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 applicants.

The MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy is one of the most competitive master’s degrees in Oxford’s Social Science division. Most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally 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 working experience 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 additionally 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. 
  • 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 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.

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 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 in the cafeteria are available during term.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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.

Further information about scholarships and funding opportunities available through this academic department and for this course (if applicable) can be found on the department's website. These may include Grand Union DTP ESRC studentships, and in order to be considered for an award you will need to complete the scholarships section of the course application form and submit additional supporting material. The programme’s website provides more details about the application process, as well as any eligibility criteria that may apply.

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 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£21,200

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

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 likely increases to fees and charges.

For more information about course 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

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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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 options courses 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 between 1,500 and 3,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples usually from your most recent or ongoing degree are required. Extracts from longer pieces of work are acceptable and they should be prefaced by a 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 works are not acceptable. The word limit does 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 familiarity with standard academic working techniques.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, at least two 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 deemed to be relevant. At least two academic references are required.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply

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