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Overview

What makes one set of words more convincing than another, and how can language best be put to work in the service of diplomacy and international relations?
 
This course promotes language awareness as a means of improving the skills of opinion shapers. Close attention is paid to case studies of treaties, presidential speeches, public announcements, government advertising and media materials in order to link theoretical discussion to practical examples. Since effective communication has much to do with reading intentions and contexts correctly, insights are provided into relevant cultural, social and psychological variables.

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Open for applications: 

No

Application deadline: 
Credit: 3 August 2015; Certificate: 31 August 2015
Start date: 
5 October 2015
Course code: 
IRL 5004
ECTS credits: 
9
Mode(s) of study: 
Credit - Certificate - Master/PGD

The content is stimulating and thought-provoking.
 

Kristen Daglish
Course participant
Course details

What makes one set of words more convincing than another, and how can language best be put to work in the service of diplomacy and international relations?

This course promotes language awareness as a means of improving the skills of opinion shapers. Close attention is paid to case studies of treaties, presidential speeches, public announcements, government advertising and media materials in order to link theoretical discussion to practical examples. Since effective communication has much to do with reading intentions and contexts correctly, insights are provided into relevant cultural, social and psychological variables. 

By the end of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Define and explain selected concepts in the field of linguistics, including Speech Act theory, semantics, speech communities, and politeness.
  • Define and explain concepts and techniques related to politics and international relations, including soft power, persuasion, and spin.
  • Explain and provide examples of common linguistic tools such as ambiguity, metaphor, analogy and inference.
  • Analyse textual materials (treaties, speeches, governmental advertising, media) using the linguistic tools presented in the course.
  • Analyse images in terms of their influence on our perception of the world.
  • Construct effective textual and visual messages employing the tools presented in the course.

Excerpt from course materials

It is not so much what people say but what they mean by what they say – what they intend to convey – that needs to be understood. This is best done in context and involves a process of inference in which all relevant factors are brought to bear in the course of interpretation. As we shall see, because intended meaning is not always overtly stated (this is the case in metaphor, ambiguity, suggestion, implication and politeness, for instance), interpretation is largely context dependent. It is for this reason that this course does not provide lists of set expressions but focuses instead on the dynamics between intended and inferred meaning. We have also noted that there is a close relationship between speech acts, authority and integrity. Where a speaker fails to deliver, as in the case of broken promises, empty threats or false apologies, he is seen as lacking credibility and integrity. He will lose the good faith of his audience, much as the boy who cried wolf did. This may also happen at an institutional level, where the authority granted to the powers that be may become eroded though lack of follow-through. Perceived lack of integrity comes at a high political cost.

Course outline

  1. Language as action: This session focuses on the importance of context and inference in understanding intended meaning, especially when meaning is expressed indirectly. It also considers the many ways in which diplomatic language is performative, from the operative verbs in UNSC resolutions and diplomatic reporting to diplomatic signalling and conversational innuendo.
  2. Building relationships: Sensitivity to cultural and individual differences can make or break relationships. We look at the relationship between directness and discourtesy, consider the notion of ‘face’ and analyse how indirectness is expressed in English. Comparison with other languages shows that many of the distancing devices of courtesy are universal, as are the issues raised by courtesy: genuineness, gender, altruism vs self-promotion, nature vs nurture.
  3. Securing agreement: How can we use the resources of language to secure agreement, reconcile divergent views and defuse disagreement? What causes divisiveness and how can we recognise linguistic warning signs, such as ad hominem attacks, generalisations, polarisation and othering. We consider various conciliation strategies such as addressing the individual, securing common ground, and expanding the circle of inclusion.
  4. Framing an argument: This lecture looks at various ways of framing and reframing one’s argument, from assertion to pre-emptive arguments, selective disclosure, appeals to authority, precedent, and emotion, as well as typecasting, connotations, metaphors, analogies, and clusivity. We analyse a public speech and suggest some Hard Talk simulation exercises.
  5. Persuasion: We recast the three components of classical rhetoric (logos, pathos and ethos) into ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘smart’ persuasion. Hard persuasion involves the power of reason and the use of evidence. Soft persuasion is concerned with emotional and imaginative appeal, as achieved through connotations, figures of speech, etc. Smart persuasion involves the credibility, authority and expertise of ‘ethos’ but also the clever combination of hard and soft attributes, such as in the astute deployment of logical fallacies.
  6. Force and grace: This lecture considers how to defuse, evade, reframe, assert and otherwise negotiate confrontational settings by practising a range of devices, from discourse connectives to the ABC media-management strategy: Acknowledge, Bridge, Communicate. Since holding one’s ground need not entail hostility, we consider how to remain firm on resolve but graceful in delivery.
  7. Ambiguity: Ambiguity can both create and accommodate disagreement. This lecture identifies seven types of ambiguity, and distinguishes between linguistic and constructive ambiguity (the latter refers not to a type of ambiguity, but to its deployment for particular ends). Since ambiguity allows for divergent interpretation, it is important to know how to create it where advantageous, and how to recognise and challenge it where it works against us.
  8. Diplomacy and the unsaid: Much of the power of communication resides in what is not said explicitly, but is nevertheless conveyed implicitly. We consider the role of the unsaid in diplomacy, and identify four categories of implicit communication: gaps, focus (vagueness at one end and loaded questions at the other), stories in a capsule and face-space. This final lecture acts as a revision of the previous topics by approaching them from a different angle.
Reviews

This creative course gave me the opportunity to think again about some basic concepts which are vital for diplomacy, such as: the relevance of framing an argument; language as action; construction of a narrative, and the power of persuasion. Moreover, we had fruitful interactive sessions where we discussed thought-provoking questions, among others: Should diplomacy be judged by its management of ambiguities or for its capacity to deliver results? How can we deal with, and understand, the multiple possible meanings of the unsaid?

Fernando Sandoval Flores
Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Mexico in Greece
Arpil 2014

This course is very important for any diplomat: from negotiating to public speaking, listening, and skills needed for press conferences, the course covers all the essentials needed to become a formidable diplomat. Skills learnt in this course have helped me in my everyday professional work and made me skilful at diplomatic communications.

Miruza Mohamed
Director, Environment Department, Maldives Ministry of Environment and Energy
April 2014

I highly recommend this dynamic and thought-provoking course for all diplomats who wish to improve their communication skills, both as speakers/writers and listeners. Through Language and Diplomacy, Dr. Biljana Scott shares excellent tools to achieve our goals, not only by expressing what we want to say (and knowing what need not be said), but also by having a better understanding of the other party’s intention through their utterances. A true key to mastering the art of diplomacy!

Nayeli Ceceña
Third Secretary, Embassy of Mexico in Georgetown, Guyana
December, 2012
Who should apply

  This course will be of interest to:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy.
  • Journalists, staff of international and non-governmental organisations, translators, business people and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.
Prerequisites

All course applicants must have regular access to the Internet (dial-up connection is sufficient, although broadband is preferable).

Applicants for certificate courses must have:

  • An undergraduate university degree OR three years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations.
  • Sufficient ability in the English language to undertake postgraduate level studies (including reading academic texts, discussing complex concepts with other course participants, and submitting written essay assignments of up to 2500 words in length).

Applicants for accredited courses must meet University of Malta prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours.
  • Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees

Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course:

  • €790 (University of Malta Accredited Course)
  • €650 (Diplo Certificate Course)

Applicants must pay full fees upon official acceptance into the course. The fee includes:

  • University of Malta application fee (for University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Full tuition
  • Course orientation pack where applicable (optional readings)
  • Access to all course materials online, via Diplo’s online classroom
  • Access, via the Internet, to the University of Malta e-journal collection (University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Personal interaction via the online classroom with course lecturers, staff and other participants
  • Online technical support
  • For Diplo Certificate Courses, postgraduate level certificate issued by DiploFoundation on successful completion of course requirements (interaction and participation, all assignments) 

Financial assistance 

Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries.

To apply for a scholarship please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

As Diplo's ability to offer scholarship support is limited, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship funding directly from local or international institutions. Our guide to Finding Scholarships for Online Study may provide you with some useful starting points.
 

How to apply

A number of routes for application are available:


Apply for a Diplo Certificate Course

Applicants for certificate courses should apply online.

If you are applying for financial assistance, please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

Please note that financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries. Late applications will be considered if there are spaces available in the course.


Apply for a University of Malta Accredited Course

Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.

  • Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full (download form for overseas applicants; download form for applicants with Maltese qualifications).
  • Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts.
  • English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by translator.
  • English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results
  • Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport.
  • If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country? Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
  • Application fee or proof of payment (€100 – non-refundable – see methods of payment).

Please mail complete application packages to the address at the bottom of the page.


Cancellation Policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.

Print course info
Course details:

What makes one set of words more convincing than another, and how can language best be put to work in the service of diplomacy and international relations?

This course promotes language awareness as a means of improving the skills of opinion shapers. Close attention is paid to case studies of treaties, presidential speeches, public announcements, government advertising and media materials in order to link theoretical discussion to practical examples. Since effective communication has much to do with reading intentions and contexts correctly, insights are provided into relevant cultural, social and psychological variables. 

By the end of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Define and explain selected concepts in the field of linguistics, including Speech Act theory, semantics, speech communities, and politeness.
  • Define and explain concepts and techniques related to politics and international relations, including soft power, persuasion, and spin.
  • Explain and provide examples of common linguistic tools such as ambiguity, metaphor, analogy and inference.
  • Analyse textual materials (treaties, speeches, governmental advertising, media) using the linguistic tools presented in the course.
  • Analyse images in terms of their influence on our perception of the world.
  • Construct effective textual and visual messages employing the tools presented in the course.

Excerpt from course materials

It is not so much what people say but what they mean by what they say – what they intend to convey – that needs to be understood. This is best done in context and involves a process of inference in which all relevant factors are brought to bear in the course of interpretation. As we shall see, because intended meaning is not always overtly stated (this is the case in metaphor, ambiguity, suggestion, implication and politeness, for instance), interpretation is largely context dependent. It is for this reason that this course does not provide lists of set expressions but focuses instead on the dynamics between intended and inferred meaning. We have also noted that there is a close relationship between speech acts, authority and integrity. Where a speaker fails to deliver, as in the case of broken promises, empty threats or false apologies, he is seen as lacking credibility and integrity. He will lose the good faith of his audience, much as the boy who cried wolf did. This may also happen at an institutional level, where the authority granted to the powers that be may become eroded though lack of follow-through. Perceived lack of integrity comes at a high political cost.

Course outline

  1. Language as action: This session focuses on the importance of context and inference in understanding intended meaning, especially when meaning is expressed indirectly. It also considers the many ways in which diplomatic language is performative, from the operative verbs in UNSC resolutions and diplomatic reporting to diplomatic signalling and conversational innuendo.
  2. Building relationships: Sensitivity to cultural and individual differences can make or break relationships. We look at the relationship between directness and discourtesy, consider the notion of ‘face’ and analyse how indirectness is expressed in English. Comparison with other languages shows that many of the distancing devices of courtesy are universal, as are the issues raised by courtesy: genuineness, gender, altruism vs self-promotion, nature vs nurture.
  3. Securing agreement: How can we use the resources of language to secure agreement, reconcile divergent views and defuse disagreement? What causes divisiveness and how can we recognise linguistic warning signs, such as ad hominem attacks, generalisations, polarisation and othering. We consider various conciliation strategies such as addressing the individual, securing common ground, and expanding the circle of inclusion.
  4. Framing an argument: This lecture looks at various ways of framing and reframing one’s argument, from assertion to pre-emptive arguments, selective disclosure, appeals to authority, precedent, and emotion, as well as typecasting, connotations, metaphors, analogies, and clusivity. We analyse a public speech and suggest some Hard Talk simulation exercises.
  5. Persuasion: We recast the three components of classical rhetoric (logos, pathos and ethos) into ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘smart’ persuasion. Hard persuasion involves the power of reason and the use of evidence. Soft persuasion is concerned with emotional and imaginative appeal, as achieved through connotations, figures of speech, etc. Smart persuasion involves the credibility, authority and expertise of ‘ethos’ but also the clever combination of hard and soft attributes, such as in the astute deployment of logical fallacies.
  6. Force and grace: This lecture considers how to defuse, evade, reframe, assert and otherwise negotiate confrontational settings by practising a range of devices, from discourse connectives to the ABC media-management strategy: Acknowledge, Bridge, Communicate. Since holding one’s ground need not entail hostility, we consider how to remain firm on resolve but graceful in delivery.
  7. Ambiguity: Ambiguity can both create and accommodate disagreement. This lecture identifies seven types of ambiguity, and distinguishes between linguistic and constructive ambiguity (the latter refers not to a type of ambiguity, but to its deployment for particular ends). Since ambiguity allows for divergent interpretation, it is important to know how to create it where advantageous, and how to recognise and challenge it where it works against us.
  8. Diplomacy and the unsaid: Much of the power of communication resides in what is not said explicitly, but is nevertheless conveyed implicitly. We consider the role of the unsaid in diplomacy, and identify four categories of implicit communication: gaps, focus (vagueness at one end and loaded questions at the other), stories in a capsule and face-space. This final lecture acts as a revision of the previous topics by approaching them from a different angle.
Who should apply:

  This course will be of interest to:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy.
  • Journalists, staff of international and non-governmental organisations, translators, business people and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.
Methodology:
Pere Mora Romà explains how online learning can be as, or even more, interactive than traditional face-to-face courses, resulting in what he calls "academic social networks."

This course is conducted entirely online over a period of ten weeks. Reading materials and tools for online interaction are provided through an online classroom. Each week, participants read the provided lecture text, adding questions, comments and references in the form of hypertext entries. Lecturers and other participants read and respond to these entries, creating interaction based on the lecture text. During the week, participants complete additional online activities (e.g. further discussion via blogs or forums, quizzes, group tasks, simulations or short assignments). At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet online in a chat room to discuss the week’s topic. To complete the course successfully, participants must write several essay assignments. Courses are based on a collaborative approach to learning, involving a high level of interaction.

This course requires a minimum of five to seven hours of study time per week.

Prerequisites:

All course applicants must have regular access to the Internet (dial-up connection is sufficient, although broadband is preferable).

Applicants for certificate courses must have:

  • An undergraduate university degree OR three years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations.
  • Sufficient ability in the English language to undertake postgraduate level studies (including reading academic texts, discussing complex concepts with other course participants, and submitting written essay assignments of up to 2500 words in length).

Applicants for accredited courses must meet University of Malta prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours.
  • Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees:

Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course:

  • €790 (University of Malta Accredited Course)
  • €650 (Diplo Certificate Course)

Applicants must pay full fees upon official acceptance into the course. The fee includes:

  • University of Malta application fee (for University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Full tuition
  • Course orientation pack where applicable (optional readings)
  • Access to all course materials online, via Diplo’s online classroom
  • Access, via the Internet, to the University of Malta e-journal collection (University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Personal interaction via the online classroom with course lecturers, staff and other participants
  • Online technical support
  • For Diplo Certificate Courses, postgraduate level certificate issued by DiploFoundation on successful completion of course requirements (interaction and participation, all assignments) 

Financial assistance 

Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries.

To apply for a scholarship please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

As Diplo's ability to offer scholarship support is limited, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship funding directly from local or international institutions. Our guide to Finding Scholarships for Online Study may provide you with some useful starting points.
 

How to apply:

A number of routes for application are available:


Apply for a Diplo Certificate Course

Applicants for certificate courses should apply online.

If you are applying for financial assistance, please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

Please note that financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries. Late applications will be considered if there are spaces available in the course.


Apply for a University of Malta Accredited Course

Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.

  • Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full (download form for overseas applicants; download form for applicants with Maltese qualifications).
  • Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts.
  • English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by translator.
  • English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results
  • Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport.
  • If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country? Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
  • Application fee or proof of payment (€100 – non-refundable – see methods of payment).

Please mail complete application packages to the address at the bottom of the page.


Cancellation Policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.