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4 Diplomacy Courses You Can Audit for Free

Diplomacy is a tool to find agreements, maintain peace and resolve conflicts. Intergovernmental organizations, countries and individuals use diplomacy to influence others. The outcome of diplomatic negotiations often affect large groups or entire countries or regions. Due to the responsibilities diplomats have, they need to go through rigorous education before they can participate in discussions that affect millions of people. Topics that are frequently discussed in diplomatic missions are climate change, trade, human rights, conflicts and partnerships.

We have compiled a list of diplomacy courses that you can take online. All courses a free to audit. If you complete the courses to meet your career goals, you can opt-in for a paid certificate for an extra fee. While most of the courses in the list below take several weeks to complete, you can start instantly and take them at your own pace.

Global Diplomacy (SOAS University of London)

Offered by SOAS University of London, this course is rooted in the University’s Masters Program in Global Diplomacy. In this course you will learn about the fundamentals, systems, nature and development of Global Diplomacy. You will explore historic and contemporary diplomatic practices and procedures, and you will develop a set of skills to analyze diplomatic discourses. Throughout this course you will explore a variety of diplomatic issues that are relevant in today’s world. One chapter is specifically dedicated to diplomacy as a profession and the key characteristics of a good diplomat.

The course heavily builds on peer interactions that are designed to emulate real-world negotiations and features a variety of peer assessments, that prompt learners to provide feedback and evaluations. If you are interested in interactive, action-oriented learning, this course might be an excellent choice. The entire course takes roughly 5 weeks to complete, is taught entirely in English and videos contain subtitles in a variety of languages including Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Chinese (Simplified), Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian, and Spanish. The course is taught by Dr J. Simon Rofe, who is Senior Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Studies at SOAS University.


Global Health Diplomacy (State University of New York)

Already prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, health diplomats knew that health challenges increasingly transcend national borders. SARS, Zika, Ebola and HIV/Aids are some examples.  Concerted policy responses are required to tackle the challenges of our times. In response, the goal of Global Health Diplomacy is to coordinate and develop global policy solutions to advance global health. Global Health Diplomacy intersects with a variety of disciplines such as public health, international relations, international law, human rights, economics and trade.In this course you will learn to analyze the current challenges, opportunities and limits of Global Health Diplomacy. You will explore the diplomatic, financial and geopolitical contexts that influence diplomatic decision-making, and you will learn about the role of various stakeholders play in this process, including diplomats, NGO workers, multilateral institutions. After completing the course, learners will be able to describe the institutions and initiatives that are crucial to global health diplomacy, and how their activities influence global health outcomes.

Some of the course highlights include: One chapter of the course is focused specifically on the UN Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. Another chapter is dedicated to the World Health Organization and the activities of the World Bank. In sixth week of the course you will take a deep-dive into the West Africa Ebola Response. The course takes roughly 30 hours to complete and is self-paced. It is taught by Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Executive in philanthropy and global health, and Peter Small, Founding Director of the Global Health Institute.


Global Diplomacy: The United Nations in the World (SOAS University of London)

The United Nations play a major role in Global Diplomacy. With the mission to maintain international peace and security, the United Nations established the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly to prevent conflict and wars, and to create favorable conditions for lasting peace. To achieve these goals, one tool is diplomacy. The SOAS University of London is offering a well-researched introduction to the United Nations, its systems, bodies, functions and mandates. Throughout the course, learners will explore a variety of questions such as “Why does the UN exist?”, “How does the UN work for peace?”, “What is the role of the UN Security Council?”, “What’s the role of human rights in the UN System?” and “What’s the future of the UN?”.

The entire course takes roughly 12 hours to complete and is self-paced, meaning that you can take it on a weekend in one go or study in multiple sessions. The course is taught by Dr Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University of London.  More than 50,000 learners already completed the course and reviewed it with 4.7 stars out of 5. While the course is taught entirely in English, the videos have subtitles in a variety of languages including Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Vietnamese, German, Russian, English, Spanish, Japanese.


The Changing Global Order (Leiden University)

Leiden University is among the oldest Universities in Europe and enjoys a strong reputation globally in the field of international relations. The course on “The Changing Global Order” investigates how peace can be maintained while there is frequent change in global power relations. In this course you will learn about some fundamental theories of peace and security. You will learn about the role, mandate and capacity of international organizations to help prevent and stop conflict, and you examine the tools being used to negotiate agreements. The course explicitly outlines the roles of the European Union, the African Union, NATO and the UN Security Council in preventing conflict and war.

The full course experience takes roughly 30 hours to complete. It is taught by Madeleine Hosli, who is professor of International Relations at Leiden University. However, multiple renowned diplomats and lecturers are featured throughout the course. Discussion prompts throughout the course encourage learners to actively participate in the learning experience. Ambitious students may also participate in an optional honors track that requires to complete additional and more challenging assignments in Week 3 (Peer-graded assignment on Conflict Resolution and Mediation) and Week 6 (Peer-graded assignment on UN Security Council Reform). In the final exam with 40 questions, you need to have 80% correct to receive a passing grade.


About the author

Robert Fellner

Robert is founder of Human Rights Careers (HRC). A platform with the aim to support human rights students, alumni, graduates and professionals in pursuing and developing their career in human rights. Prior to launching HRC, Robert worked as Global Human Rights EdTech Manager at Amnesty International in London and as consultant for international human rights organizations globally. During 2011 and 2012, Robert worked as lecturer at Ain Shams university in Egypt. Robert has a masters in literature and human rights.