Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa (MA)


Gain a prestigious MA in Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa by distance learning

The MA Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa provides a theoretical and practical understanding of international affairs and contemporary diplomatic practice, with a regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa.

The programme employs cutting-edge research in Diplomatic and International Studies and is delivered in a flexible, engaging and stimulating fashion.

This MA is ideal for anyone pursuing career progression in diplomatic or related fields requiring expertise in government, not-for-profit, corporate or academic environments.

You’ll acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in a range of professional diplomatic contexts or to undertake research in the area of global diplomacy. The skills you'll develop include:

  • Critical thinking, with reference to theoretical and empirical content about international studies, diplomacy, and political economy in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Identifying and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of others' ideas and arguments.

Programme details

  You study Study period Cost (2017-18)
MA 4 x 30 credit modules
1 x 60 credit dissertation module
2 years £10,000


The MA Global Diplomacy is developed by SOAS's Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD), which has an established heritage of high-quality teaching and research.

The centre's mission is to promote cross-disciplinary teaching that combines the distinctive expertise of SOAS with cutting-edge research and public discussion of international politics.

Career enhancement

As a distance learning student you will have the opportunity to combine your studies with your ongoing professional and domestic commitments.

The MA Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa is particularly suited to graduates or professionals engaged in (or planning to embark upon) careers requiring international expertise. These may include:

  • diplomats or state departments involved in foreign trade;
  • international civil servants;
  • members of a non-governmental organisation in development aid or humanitarian fields;
  • employees of international corporate organisations.

Your time commitment

We have every expectation that the vast majority of students will take two years to complete the MA degree.

There will be two sixteen-week study sessions plus two dissertation study sessions during a calendar year. You should expect to devote between 10-15 hours a week to your studies during these periods.

Summary of key dates

Global Diplomacy
Application deadline 30 September 2017 31 March 2018
Start of session 17 October 2017 17 April 2018
End of session 09 February 2018 TBC



MA: 2 core modules, 2 elective modules, 4 research mini modules plus the dissertation on a topic related to South Asia.

Core modules

The Art of Negotiation

This module provides students with an understanding of three interrelated elements of Diplomacy. The first is the key concepts of diplomacy, the second is the institutional development from the Renaissance to World War II, and the third looks at the development of Consular Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main part of the module then looks closely at the 'art of negotiation'. Beginning with a consideration of strategy and tactics, it proceeds through the main stages of negotiations, takes in diplomatic momentum en route, and concludes with an examination of the 'packaging' of diplomatic agreements.

Economy, Politics and Society in the Middle East and North Africa

You will gain an interdisciplinary, social science foundation to the study of the region of Middle East & North Africa. By engaging with a series of key debates related to economic, political and social change, you will gain an understanding of the underlying and overarching processes which are shaping societies, polities, and economies in the region.

Elective modules

Diplomatic Systems

You will learn about the conditions in which diplomacy is stimulated and the nature of different diplomatic systems that arise as a result of variations in these conditions. You will also study historical and contemporary case studies from Byzantium to Ancient Greece and from the French system to a transatlantic system of diplomacy.

Muslim Minorities in a Global Context

This module gives students an insight into the diversity of Muslim minority communities at a time when political shifts in Muslim majority countries – such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and across the MENA region – have put Muslim minorities into the spotlight and impacted upon their relationship with their host countries.

The module traces the emergence and development of Muslim minorities in both Western and non-Western contexts, and examines how Muslims have forged new identities as they have negotiated their places within their host societies. The objective of the module is to enable students to understand the interconnecting variables with respect to class, gender and regional location, as well as religious interpretation and practice, which have resulted in issues arising uniquely within different Muslim minority communities. They will consider the ways in which Muslim minorities impact national policies in non-Muslim states and engage with terms such as ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’, ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘islamophobia’ within different contexts. The course includes an historical overview of Muslim migrations, aspects of civil society, the interaction of Muslim laws and the state laws of various jurisdictions, and the role of the media in shaping Muslims’ relationship with their host environment. 

Strategic Studies

The area of strategic studies is increasingly relevant in light of conflicts in the past decade in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. You will address a range of strategic influences such as power and force, asymmetric/irregular warfare, and the role of security providers such as NATO. The relationship between strategy and policy will be explored through a series of case studies including US involvement in Vietnam and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Global Energy and Climate Policy

You will study the key themes and approaches in the study of global energy and climate policy as two closely interrelated global challenges. You will investigate international regime formation and diplomatic landscapes in the energy and climate change fields, analyse the geopolitical dimensions of energy supply and demand, and examine regulatory approaches to cutting greenhouse gases.

International Security

Focusing on developments since the end of the Cold War, you will be given the analytical tools to think critically and independently about the nature of contemporary international security. You will consider a range of contemporary security issues including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq War and the future of the Middle East, and the prospects for peace and security in the 21st century.

Global Public Policy

Gain an understanding of public policy making in a context of intensifying globalisation and transnational political contestation. You will undertake rigorous and critical analysis of policy and the complex processes by which it is formulated, adopted and implemented.

International History and International Relations

You will analyse the major debates in the disciplines of international history and international relations. The course is structured thematically, allowing for an interlinked analytical and narrative account of international studies to be presented.

Global Citizenship and Advocacy

Develop an understanding of how to influence policy at an international level and how to affect policy changes to meet the aims of non-governmental and international organisations. You will look at how to achieve change at a global level, networking across national boundaries and on global issues.

Global International Organisation: United Nations in the World

Examine the context of the United Nations (UN) and the UN system within other International Organisations (IOs). You will examine the ways in which International Organisations came into being and how they evolved into the United Nations Organisation in 1945. Learn how the UN system has changed in recent years, and what the short and medium-term effect of these changes are likely to be with particular attention on peacekeeping, collective security, and human rights.

International Economics

Learn about the theory of international economics and become familiar with the practice of international economic relations through the study of current policy debates about the workings of the contemporary international economy.

America and the World: US Foreign Policy

You will examine the various approaches to the study and understanding of American foreign policy. Beginning with an introduction to relevant literature and influences, the module goes on to address US foreign policy-making process. Case-studies will be included, covering both the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. The course will culminate in an assessment of the nature, extent and likely development of American global power.

Sport and Diplomacy

Since the era of the ancient Olympic Games, sporting competition has assisted human societies in mediating estrangements, resolving conflict and sublimating competitive urges. You will analyse how sports and diplomacy interrelate and consider how international sporting institutions have functioned as non-state actors in diplomacy, from antiquity to the present day.

Diplomacy in a South Asian Context

You will learn about international and national level policies and their implementation across and within national boundaries in South Asia. You will develop an understanding of the challenges involved in applying international policy in a range of South Asian contexts, where non-governmental and international organisations are also engaged with global issues and national policy. You will gain an understanding of the history of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and its constraints and limitations.

Governance and Political Economy of South Asia

You will learn about forms of governance and politics as they have evolved in relation to economic organisation and development in South Asia. You will explore the relationship between governance and economic processes thematically and gain an understanding of the changing nature of ‘the state’ and its roles and functions in a number of South Asian contexts.

South Asian Development in the 21st Century

You will engage with the key themes and debates in the field of Development Studies as it pertains to South Asia. This module provides an interdisciplinary and heterodox approach to understanding both the international ‘drivers’ of development, such as UN agencies, as well as highlighting critical analyses of policies and the outcomes of these processes through a focus on concepts of equity, distribution, and ‘rights’.

The Political Economy of India

You will develop an informed understanding of the complex structure of the Indian economy. You will learn to apply basic economic theories to the analysis of a range of economic policies and to identify and de-construct key debates and issues in the political economy of India.

India’s Foreign and Security Policy

Beginning with the creation of independent India and its borders in 1947, you will acquire the analytical tools you need to assess how India’s foreign and security policy has evolved over time. The module will highlight a number of contemporary issues which address both internal and external security policy in India, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and India’s bi-lateral relations with its neighbours (principally Pakistan) in relation to borders, militarisation, and security. You will also evaluate India’s aspirations for global stature at the international policy level.

Contemporary India: State, Society and Politics

You will become conversant with a number of current themes which are shaping contemporary India and use a range of conceptual tools to evaluate the political shifts that have taken place in the electoral ascent of Hindu nationalism alongside emerging civil society movements. By engaging with contemporary literature and debate you will develop a deeper and broader understanding of how state, society and politics are evolving in contemporary India.

Afghanistan: Strategic and Geopolitical Perspectives

You will engage with political debates about the strategic and geopolitical significance of Afghanistan and analyse the ways in which the region became a site for the Cold War through U.S. and Soviet direct and indirect interventions. You will also develop a nuanced understanding of how the ‘war on terror’ impacts upon the region in terms of the struggle to develop sustainable local governance amidst international security interests.

Pakistan: Security, State and Religion

You will analyse the evolution of the Pakistani state since Pakistan’s creation in 1947. You will develop analytical insights into the uses of religion as a means of ideological unity across its provinces and securitisation through the prominence of the military as a means of maintaining the state’s internal and external power. The factors that influence persistent violence, political instability, wealth disparity, and low economic growth will be critically examined.

Political Islam in South Asia

You will gain an understanding of the ways in which Islamism circulates in contemporary South Asia in a range of different contexts across the region. The historical roots of political Islam in South Asia will be explored in relation to colonialism and the emergence of politicised religion while its contemporary legacy will be charted out in terms of recent regional and global developments.

Making of the Contemporary World

This module explores how the contemporary world came into being. It begins with the world before European hegemony, then explores the transformations of the 19th century, before focusing on the way in which the global system has evolved over the last 100 years. The module as a whole focuses on political economy, with some attention to social and cultural history. Each week is devoted to exploring a particular theme. As a whole, the module provides the necessary context within which to place contemporary developments and a yardstick against which to test general claims about the world today.

Political Economy of Violence, Conflict and Development

This module provides a grounding in analytical approaches to the political economy of violence, conflict and development. By discussing empirical trends, difficulties of data collection and the importance of categorization and boundaries to matters of violence. It then moves onto some of the foundational theories on conflict and violence including gender perspectives, debates about the origins of human violence (anthropological, historical, psychological sources of violence) and the role of violence in historical change. Against this background, the course explores how development theory has treated violence and conflict at different times before focusing on competing contemporary theories and claims about the causes and dynamics of conflict. In the second term, the focus shifts to the structures and manifestations of violence including themes related to boundaries, war economies, inequality, land and the environment. We look at themes in common between the study of these dimensions or types of violence and of wars. Next we explore different facets of intervening in violent conflict including humanitarian aid, conflict resolution and reconstruction. The course ends on the links between war/violence, and knowledge production, discourses and ethics, with a focus on terrorism and the war on terror and then the ethical challenges of conducting research on violence.

Trade Diplomacy

Economic and trade issues are increasingly gaining centre stage in the diplomatic undertakings of the state. This module introduces students to key theories and issues concerning the dealings of nations with each other as well as the institutions of global governance that impact trade relations. The module introduces students to key economic theories of trade as well as international political economy to provide a well rounded introduction to the subject. It traces the changes taking place in the global trade architecture especially the move from trade negotiations fronted by the WTO to trade in a multilateral environment and the regulatory architecture for dispute settlement, a key issue in trade today. The module provides the students with the tools for policy analysis by introducing them both to theories as well as practice by focusing on relevant issues like the rise of China and its influence on global trade, the rise of nonstate actors as pressure groups, the inclusion of non-trade related topics in trade negotiations and finally Brexit and trade negotiations.


Dissertation - MA Global Diplomacy

The dissertation module is an opportunity for students to develop their interests in particular area. It comes at the end of the taught modules and may be based on something that students have found during their studies or a personal interest or experience. The dissertation is fully supported by the Distance Learning team and a suite of resources specifically designed for the module. The dissertation is divided into two sections; the pre-proposal stage, where students are provided with appropriate research skills; and the post-proposal stage, where students will be working with a full-time Academic member of staff. The module will provide students with the ability to plan and write a dissertation, after displaying evidence of independent research skills and critically reflection. In other words the disseration is designed to engage students in a sustained piece of individual, academic research on a chosen topic within the field of international relations.

Study materials

How you study

The MA Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa is based on a proven model of Distance Learning delivery that places the student experience at the centre of our collective endeavours.

The programme’s design is particularly structured to draw out the relevant working experience of students during their studies on the programme.

Students take one subject module at a time which is studied over a sixteen-week study session.

There will be two sixteen-week study sessions plus two dissertation study sessions during a calendar year. Support and feedback for students will be available from your dedicated Associate Tutor. Your expectation should be to graduate within a 2-year time period.

The programme will employ a range of innovative and engaging student-focused assessments appropriate to the distance learning mode of delivery.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

You will be able to access all learning materials through the VLE including:
  • Current module materials
  • Learning activities (E-tivities) specifically designed to meet the module learning outcomes
  • The University of London Online Library
  • A dedicated Associate Tutor to facilitate student learning.


Total MA£ 10,000
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Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for

  • the fee charged to your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list of fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.


Student learning is intimately linked to assessment in the programme to ensure students do as well as they can.

Each module with the exception of the Dissertation module, will be assessed by the completion of six e-tivities*.

The tasks and weightings for each e-tivity for a module are as follows:

  • E-tivity 1: Access and socialisation – 0%
  • E-tivity 2: Library information retrieval – 5%
  • E-tivity 3: Literature critique (directed) – 5%
  • E-tivity 4: Essay proposal – 15%
  • E-tivity 5: Literature critique (bespoke) – 5%
The sixth e-tivity in each module will be assessed in the form of  a 4000 – 5000 word  coursework essay submitted via Turnitin.
The grade awarded for the module is based on the mark obtained in the written coursework submission (e-tivity 6) and on the combined mark for the e-tivities on the module. The ratio of the written coursework to continuous assessment (e-tivities 1-5) is 70:30.
The assessment for all modules is progressive and designed to be completed in sequence.
The Dissertation is assessed by the submission of a written dissertation of not more than 15,000 words which will account for 85% of the grade awarded for the module. The remaining 15% of the module grade will be based on the mark obtained for a 1,500 word research proposal.
*an 'E-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format which states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' - Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.

Academic Requirements

In order to be considered for admission as an International Programmes student, applicants must also submit an application that is in accordance with the procedures and deadlines set out on the CISD website

To be registered for the MA in Global Diplomacy: Middle East and North Africa, an applicant must have, either:

• in a relevant discipline, a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree from a UK university or other institution

acceptable to the University, or an equivalent international qualification (qualifications in other subjects will be assessed on their merits)


• in a relevant discipline, previous education and experience without a UK Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent, that satisfies the University and has included suitable preliminary training.

Applications will be welcome from applicants with unconventional career paths and consideration will be given to work experience.

Language Requirements

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

Academic Leadership

Lead College

The Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at SOAS, University of London, is committed to the promotion of excellence in teaching, scholarship and research, the development of applied international studies and to ensuring that its work impacts key international debates.

The mission of CISD is to promote cross-disciplinary teaching that combines the distinctive expertise of SOAS with cutting-edge research and public discussion of international politics in a globalising world. The Centre's research on corporate governance, on disarmament and globalisation and on the origins and future of the United Nations exemplify this approach.

SOAS offers an education that goes beyond the Euro-centre approach that has dominated such programmes in the past. It is able to do this because the width and depth of its scholarly resources make it the leading centre for the study of Asia and Africa in Europe.

If you are interested in developing an international career and are seeking a professionally relevant postgraduate programme, we hope what we offer will be of value.

Your Academic and Support staff

You will have a dedicated Associate Tutor who will work with you and your fellow students throughout the modules you take. At no point will you be without someone to assist you on your learning journey.

Additionally, the Programme Director, Dr Simon Rofe will act as your Personal Tutor throughout your studies.

Apply online

Hear from the Programme Director

Simon Rofe, Programme Director, MA Global Diplomacy

Hear from Dr Simon Rofe, Director of the MA Global Diplomacy, in London Connection.

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