COMS420-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Public Diplomacy

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


Public diplomacy relates to efforts by state and non-state actors to influence public opinion in other countries. With the growth of soft power and new media and information technologies, public diplomacy is of growing importance in international relations. This course reviews the emerging theoretical literature on public diplomacy and a number of case studies on how different states and multilateral organisations have used public diplomacy in recent years to improve their international image. This is not a distance course. This course includes group work and has a strongly practical focus -- cooperation with diplomats and international relations practitioners -- that requires active in-class engagement. This course teaches a number of the core skills that communicators working in the international context at home and abroad will need. It features diplomats and internationally-recognised leading experts of public diplomacy as our guest speakers.

Learning Outcomes

  • increase competency in academic discipline of their respective degrees; deepen knowledge on PD; apply acquired knowledge/skills to professional settings in diverse contexts (in NZ, the Asia-Pacific and globally); engage in an informed way with diverse communities
  • comprehend the influences the flows of international political communication have on their discipline; apply analytical and critical thinking and problem-solving skills in diverse contexts; gain greater knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms behind strategic influence, domestically and internationally (including top down vs. community-rooted PD concepts/practices)
  • develop competence in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts from a research-informed analytical standpoint; strengthen their own reflections about their personal culture, culture in their own communities and in the context of bi-culturalism in Aotearoa NZ and internationally
  • interact confidently and appropriately with persons from a background different from their own and understand their selves and how this impacts engagement with others; gain better understanding of traditional and contemporary realities of NZ’s bicultural society trough PD activities by NZ towards international partners and by foreign actors towards NZ.
  • get awareness how diplomatic representations of and to NZ reflect on the Treaty of Waitangi and project their political communications. Students will get exposure to other indigenous models of development, knowledge and behaviours considered in the context of PD practices (including in the Asia-Pacific contexts).
  • enhance their graduate research capacities through individual & group research; undertake original research using transnational multidisciplinary PD approaches in the globalising world; enhance their research training, and learn and train in research methods specifically relevant to studying political communication in international relations.
  • enhance their preparation for the vocational future; learn a range of methods relevant to effective PD communication; interact with leading experts from UC and internationally; acquire skills in critical assessment of public opinion, use of media as a proxy for PO, media monitoring, outreach via social media, communication with stakeholders and PD target groups
  • hone skills at analytical debating in classes and in group work; develop confidence presenting publicly; gain advanced skills communicating complex ideas using various techniques and media; gain a set of transferrable skills critical to ensure ongoing training and sustainable research agenda in learning about political communication and PD public diplomacy in future
  • tailor course events/assessments to their area of interest/future employment; learn new methods; practice existing research/investigation skills to benefit workplaces and communities; practice their skills in IT, information search (including library use and bibliographical skills), discussion/debate, oral presentation, group work, project work, writing.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Subject to approval of the Programme Coordinator.


DIPL430, POLS430

Course Coordinator

Natalia Chaban


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Attendance Requirement 10% Participation and attendance of weekly seminars // bi-weekly forum posts
Essay 30% Research essay (Lit review and expert opinion review)
Group Project 30% Team Research Project
Individual Case Study 30% Case Study Report (individual)

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,990.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All COMS420 Occurrences

  • COMS420-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023