UCL Anthropology


Public Diplomacy and Global Communication MA (Not running 2020-21)

Please be advised that this programme will not be running in 2020-21.

This MA programme is designed by a senior diplomat and the teaching will draw on experts in public diplomacy, journalism and advocacy including former diplomats. It combines an innovative mix of theory and practice, inter-disciplinarity, diplomacy and communication, combining modules from different departments (Anthropology and Political Science) and engagement with both academics and practitioners.

Key Information

  • Programme Starts: September 2019
  • Location: London, Bloomsbury

Degree Information

The MA offers students opportunities to learn about how different political actors and agencies influence opinion, as well as developing practical skills in advocacy and communication. Soft power, globalisation, ethics and morality and other themes from this rapidly evolving area of the social sciences are considered alongside training in global public engagement (eg. podcast, film, journalistic skills, social media usage).

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of the core module in Public Diplomacy & Global Communication: History, Theory and Practice (45 credits), three optional/elective modules (15 credits each) and the final Research Project / Dissertation (90 credits).

Core Module

Students will undertake one core module over the course of the first two terms in Public Diplomacy & Global Communication: History, Theory and Practice. From April they will work on their Research Projects / Dissertation.

  • Public Diplomacy & Global Communication: History, Theory and Practice
  • Research Project and Dissertation
Optional Modules

Students choose three modules totalling 45 credits. The following is a representative selection of optional modules from Anthropology and Political Science. (Please note we cannot guarantee that all of them will be offered in 2018/19). Other UCL modules may be taken by agreement with the programme tutor and the host department. 

  • Issues in Power and Culture (15 Credits)
  • An Introduction to Social Theory - a foundation course (15 Credits)
  • Documentary Radio and Audio Podcasts - a practice based introduction (15 Credits)
  • Practical Documentary Film making (15 Credits)
  • The European Union in the World (15 credits)
  • International Political Economy (15 credits)
  • Theories of International Relations (15 credits)
  • Democratic Political Institutions (15 credits)
  • Globalisation (15 credits)
  • Leadership and Organisational Behaviour (15 credits)
  • Policy Making and Regulation in Europe (15 credits)
  • Rebellion (15 Credits)
  • The Social Forms of Revolution (15 Credits)
  • The Anthropology of Social Media (15 Credits)
  • Anthropology of Ethics and Morality (15 Credits)
  • Anthropology of Development (15 Credits)
  • Risk, Power and Uncertainty (15 Credits)
  • The Anthropology of Islam in Diaspora (15 Credits)
  • Writing Well about International Affairs (15 Credits)
  • Anthropology of Socialist and Post-Socialist Societies through Film and Text (15 Credits)

A new module in Journalistic Skills for a Multi-Platform World will be available in 2018. Further modules may be available in Anthropology and in other departments.

Dissertation/Research Project

All students undertake an independent research project culminating in a dissertation (90 credits).

Teaching And Learning

The MA will require extensive independent research and be taught in classes and seminars plus practical skills training.  Assessment will take multiple forms including the production of critical essays with literature review and sustained, argued analysis, and of practitioner types materials and short written briefs.

Suggested Readings

Below are some selected books and resources of relevance to the course.

  • Bjola, C  & Holmes, M. eds. Digital Diplomacy: theory and practice, 2015
  • Berridge, G. R Diplomacy: theory and practice. 5th ed. 2015
  • British Council / Univ. of Edinburgh Soft Power Today. 2017
  • Crewe, E Commons and Lords: a short anthropology of parliament. 2015
  • Cull, N Public Diplomacy: foundations for global engagement in the digital age 
  • Forthcoming 2019 Fletcher, T Naked Diplomacy: power and statecraft in the digital age. 2016
  • Gellner, D & Hirsch, E eds. Inside Organisations: anthropologists at work. 2001
  • Goffman, E The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959, 1990
  • Hawley, K Trust: a very short introduction. 2012
  • Leonard, M et. al Public Diplomacy Foreign Policy Centre, 2002
  • Lukes, S Power: a radical view. 2nd ed, 2005
  • Marsden, M, Ibanez-Tirado, D & Henig, D Everyday Diplomacy Special Issue of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 34(2), Autumn 2016:
  • Melissen, J ed. The New Public Diplomacy: soft power in international relations, 2005 
  • Neumann, I At Home With the Diplomats: inside a European Foreign Ministry. 2012
  • Nye, J Soft Power: the means to success in world politics. 2004
  • Origgi, G Reputation: what it is and why it matters. 2018
  • Pamment, J New Public Diplomacy in the 21st century. 2014
  • Pomerantsev, P Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: adventures in modern Russia. 2015
  • Sharp, P Diplomatic Theory of International Relations, 2009
  • Snow, N & Taylor, P Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy. 2009 
  • Univ. of Lund. 2018 Countering Information Influence Activities: the state of the art
  • Free Online Course: Why We Post is a UCL based global anthropological research project looking at the uses and consequences of social media in different sites around the world. It offers a free, open-to-all, five week, online course with circa 3 hours a week of study: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/anthropology-social-media

Programme Director

  • Prof Cornelia Sorabji

Cornelia currently works part time at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office where her most recent full time role was as Head of FCO Research Analysts. Her anthropological work has focussed on Bosnia & Herzegovina, conflict, religion and identity. 

Optional Modules

Please check the relevant courses on the Anthropology or Political Science webpages for information about teachers and speakers. 

Core Course Speakers, Tutors and Trainers in 2018-19 include (watch this space for updates and additions):  

  • Duncan Allan

Duncan is a Russia and Former Soviet Union expert, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and Director of Octant Research & Analysis Ltd. His 28 year career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office included tours in the British Embassies in Kyiv and Moscow. 

  • Gill Bennett OBE

Is a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Insitute and was formerly Chief Historian at the Foreign & Commmonwealth Office. A specialist in the history of secret intelligence her most recent book, The Zinoviev Letter: the conspiracy that never dies, was published in 2018.

  • Andy Black

Andy Black trains diplomats at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in social media, digital diplomacy, research, monitoring and international communications.    

  • Paul Brummell CMG

Is Head of Soft Power and Strategic Engagement at the FCO. His previous diplomatic roles have included British Ambassador to Romania and to Kazakhstan, and High Commissioner to Barbados. He is the author of travel guides to Romania and Kazakhstan. 

  • Philippa Cancellor-Weale

Is a Senior Research Analyst at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

  • Dr Dame Nicola Brewer

is Vice Provost International of UCL. She has previously been Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and her diplomatic career included service as High Commissioner to South Africa. 

  • Jon Davies

is Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK. His Foreign & Commonwealth Office career has included the roles of Director of the Diplomatic Academy, Director of Middle East & North Africa, and postings in Cairo, Kuwait and Madrid. 

  • Tim Dowse CMG 

is a senior associate fellow of the Royal United Services Institute. Before his October 2018 retirement his diplomatic career included roles as Director of Intelligence & National Security, Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office, Head of Counter Proliferation Dept, postings in Manila, Tel Aviv and Washington DC, in HM Treasury, and secondment to the US State Dept. 

  • Hugh Elliott 

Is Director of Communications & Stakeholders at DEXEU. Hugh’s previous roles include. Director Communications and Director Europe in the FCO, and Head of Government Relations at Anglo American (https://www.gov.uk/government/people/hugh-elliott)

  • Dr Alexander Evans OBE

Alexander is a British diplomat and author whose most recent posting was as Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi. He has also worked at the US State Dept, the UN Security Council and Yale University. @aiaevans

  • Nina Garthwaite

Is a journalist specialising in radio and sound and is founding Director of In The Dark, an organisation celebrating stories told through sound. Her latest Radio 4 series “the Tyranny of the Story” aired in August 2018

  • Pinny Grylls

is a documentary filmmaker and ethnographer. Her work includes documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4,  the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and The Guardian as well as video ethnography, mostly for Ipsos Mori Ethnography Centre of Excellence and Policy Lab. She co-founded the Birds Eye View Film Festival

  • Charles Hymas

is a journalist and former Head of News, News Editor and Education Correspondent at The Sunday Times 

  • Andrew Jackson

is a partner at Flint Global, a business advisory service. An expert on Leadership and Organisational Change he has worked closely with leaders at the top of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and wider Civil Service, as well as in the corporate sector. 

  • James Kidner

is Director of Partnerships at the London-based technology start-up, Improbable. He joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1985 and served overseas in Malaysia and Bulgaria as well as in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, as Private Secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons and as Deputy Private Secretary to HRH the Prince of Wales. He has also served on the Senior Directing Staff of the Royal College of Defence Studies and was founding Director of the educational charity, Coexist.

  • Kirsty Lang

is a journalist and broadcaster with over 30 years of experience at the BBC, Channel 4 News and the Sunday Times. She sits on the Board of the British Council 

  • Kathy Leach

Is Head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Policy Unit. She has also served as HM Ambassador to Yerevan, in the British Embassy in Tokyo and in other diplomatic roles.

  • Mark Leonard

Is a political scientist and author, credited in the 1990s with launching ‘Cool Britannia’. He is Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and was formerly Director of the Foreign Policy Centre. He has also worked Demos and the Centre for European Reform and has held fellowships at the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences.  

  • Jonathan Marshall

Is Head of Learning at the FCO’s Diplomatic Academy. His previous roles include work at the National School of Government, as a Policy Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit,  and in the British Embassy in Athens.

  • Teresa McElroy

is a trained actor who over the last 10 years has increasingly worked as a coach in Public Speaking, Personal Impact, Voice and Presence. Her clients have ranged from lawyers, to entrepreneurs, clinicians, restauranteurs,  financiers and Whitehall officials.

  • Dr Mark Thompson

Is an award-winning historian whose books include “Forging War” on media manipulation before and during the 1990s wars of Yugoslav succession, “The White War” about the Italian front in WWI and a biography of Danilo Kis. Thompson has worked at the UN as head of media analysis for UNPROFOR and as political officer for UNMOP, has been head of media affairs for the OSCE’s mission to Croatia, and Balkans Program Director of the International Crisis Group.    

  • Archie Young

Is currently Director of International Climate & Energy at BEIS and the UK’s negotiator at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.


This programme is both theoretically and vocationally oriented. It aims to equip you to understand and be effective in the field of public diplomacy and global communication today, and to have the critical skills and awareness to flex your practice as the landscape changes tomorrow. 

The increasingly interconnected nature of the world and the growing importance of non state actors and social media to international affairs mean this domain, writ large, is likely to be an area of growing recruitment. 

This MA is new in 2018 and as yet there are no alumni.


Acquiring key employment skills in the field of Public Diplomacy and Global Communication will help equip graduates to work in government, in NGOs, international development and aid, business, the media, data and digitally related roles and in other fields involving influence with an international dimension.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Working with academics and practitioners you will learn key skills and knowledge involved in making effective public diplomacy and communication interventions. You will, for example, analyse international political and social currents to help determine options for public diplomacy and communication in a given situation, and learn to understand the usage of concepts such as hard and soft power, public diplomacy and StratComms and their differences, overlaps and challenges, as well as building practical skills in communication. 

  1. UCL Anthropology is one of the largest Anthropology Departments in the UK and offers an exceptional breadth of expertise. Our excellent results in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework indicate that we are the leading broad-based Anthropology Department in the UK.
  2. The programme is linked to and offers options from UCL's Political Science Department / School of Public Policy. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework shows this is one of the UK's leading centres for research in Political Science. 
  3. You will have access to a wide breadth of research across UCL drawing on disciplines including Anthropology, Political Science, International Relations, Public Policy, Philosophy, Law and Computer Science from this world-class university. 

Department: Anthropology

Student / staff ratios › 50 staff including 22 postdocs › 180 taught students › 120 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.