History of Diplomacy

6 credits

Teacher responsible: Arianna Arisi Rota

The course aims to help students understand the machinery of diplomacy and its role in contemporary international society, enabling them to recognize historical continuities, changes and innovations. The introductory section will be devoted to classic authors of diplomatic theory, traditional approaches viewing diplomacy as a specialized form of statecraft and major developments from the rise of resident embassies and foreign ministries to the emergence of new actors (15th –21st century). In the core section of the course current conceptions and procedures in diplomatic practice will be analysed: mainly based on case-studies and primary sources taken from 20th century international history, this section will include student presentations and will focus on the following topics, among others: negotiation; mediation; bilateral conventional and unconventional diplomacy/consular activity; multilateral diplomacy; coercive diplomacy; summits; preventive diplomacy; diplomacy and transition regimes. The most relevant trends in the shaping and functioning of multi-track and public diplomacy will also be outlined.

The course includes both lectures and discussions and is divided in two main parts: the first part is devoted to an outline of the rise and development of the modern and contemporary diplomatic machinery. The second part focuses on the theoretical section with analysis of case-studies and prospective changes in the diplomatic practice. Some units will be dedicated to students’ group presentations on the main topics taken from the historical section of the course. Finally, a couple of units will host guest lecturers from outside academia (diplomats and former diplomats).

Students should have a basic knowledge of Modern and Contemporary political history or be ready to engage in acquiring some such knowledge.


Keith Hamilton and Richard Langhorne,

The Practice of Diplomacy. Its Evolution, Theory and Administration,

2nd edition, Routledge, 2010

Part 1, “From the beginning until1815”

Main Reference Text:

Geoffrey R. Berridge

Diplomacy. Theory and Practice,

5th edition, Palgrave, July 2015

Enrolled students may view the full course syllabus via Kiro.