HIS41780 Origins of Modern Diplomacy

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module investigates, analyses and interprets the development of modern diplomatic practice, protocol and representation in association with the evolution of International Law. The chronological span is from 1500 when the embryonic diplomatic and intelligence services evolved in the Italian States and ideas about International Law and Power-balances first emerged, until 1900 when the impact of the world beyond Europe brought about an entirely new perspective and practice in the conduct of International Relations.

Equivalent to: M-07: Migration, International and Transnational Relationships and Europe’s Relations with the Wider World

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate in-depth knowledge, critical understanding and authoritative interpretation and analysis of the History of Diplomacy and International Law and of the historical foundations and precedents for the conduct of International Relations and for the maintenance of the international balance of power.

Assess individual aspects and legacies of the History of Diplomacy, Intelligence and Statecraft within their broader contexts

Present aspects of the historical debates concerning the evolution, development and sophisticated conduct of international affairs and diplomatic practice that form the basis of present-day International relations.

Write a scholarly essay (5,000 words ), appropriate for a fourth -Level student of History

Indicative Module Content:

I. Negotiation, Supplication & Representation : The evolution of Diplomatic Practice.
& Privilege, Immunity & Honour among “ Men sent to lie abroad”: The Ideal Ambassador
II. ‘Ius Gentium’ : The Law Among Nations: The evolution of International Law
III. Dynastic Diplomacy: Tudor Statecraft & Espionage
IV. Dynastic Diplomacy : Habsburg Statecraft and the Bedchamber
V. French Statecraft and Strategy from Richelieu to Talleyrand
VI. The Westphalian System & the Balance of Power
VII. Professional Diplomacy of Ancien Regime Europe & Asia: Knowledge&Commerceas diplomatic instrumentsin negotiation with China and Japan
VIII. From Vienna to Versailles: ‘ The Concert of Europe’, 1815-1919
IX. Continuity amid Change in the Twentieth Century: Classical Diplomacy, Public Opinion and International Organisation,
X. Student Presentations

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group, seminar-based module. It is taught through a two-hour weekly seminars, which are focused upon individual and group active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student presentations. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through in-term assessments and a semester-long 5,000 word research project. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary sources and / or student presentations each week. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
HIS40830 - Agency and Intelligence, HIS42060 - Agency and Intelligence

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Active participation in seminars, and Oral Presentation in class. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Major Essay Project (5,000 words) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the in-semester assessments will be given in writing by e-mail. and by individual meetings on Zoom. Feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis on preparatory plans and primary and secondary sources for end-of-semester Research Project Assignments. Feedback on the end-of-semester Research Project Assignment will be given by appointment in one-to-one meetings on Zoom, or by arrangement in face-to-face meetings in accordance with Covid-19 protocols, safety measures and social distance.