Diplomacy and political discontent – the twenty-first century challenges to the practice & theory of international relations

Project summary

During the last decade, the world has seen a growing tension between the State and the communities over which it, nominally at least, has jurisdiction. The inability of the state to deliver security, peace, justice and fairness, amongst other failings, has led to a growing mistrust of governments in many parts of the world. The political establishments in many parts of the world are seen not only to be corrupt and corruptible but are also disconnected from the people they serve or represent.

The growing concern that many states are failing to protect and defend the rights of their own citizen and provide for them in terms of basic necessities such as food, water, jobs, healthcare, education, and so forth, means that trust in politics is waning.

At the same time, international diplomacy seems to be in crisis as the rule-based order and multilateral institutions founded on liberal values that promote inter-state, cooperation, global peace and security are facing great challenges. Trusts between nation-states, including old allies, are at a low ebb. Relations are becoming less diplomatic. The old diplomatic norms and conventions are increasingly being abandoned or flouted with impunity. Twitter diplomacy, fake news, misinformation, conspiracy theories, populism, anti-vax, have become the norm. This study focuses on the general political discontent in society not only within the domestic politics of nation-states but also within the international arena. It examines the social, economic, and political issues facing countries around the world and the challenges of international diplomacy in the twenty-first century.

Specific topics covered in this project are wide-ranging. Any proposal aimed at addressing any of these issues are welcome. These include, but are not limited to research projects issues such as:

Consideration will be given to proposals that address any of these or similar research problems with specific country case study. 

Entry requirements

Students with a first or upper second class honours degree and in any social science or humanities discipline may apply. Preference will be given to candidates with a research proposal that contributes to the research environment at Derby and with existing research training, especially at PGT level.

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project-specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements

How to apply

Please contact Dr. Franc Jegede (f.j.jegede@derby.ac.uk) in the first instance.

The University has four starting points each year for MPhil/PhD programmes (September, January, March and June). Applications should be made at least three months before you would want to start your programme. Please note that if you require a visa additional time will be required.


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.


Senior Lecturer & Subject Leader in International Relations

Francesco Belcastro is a Lecturer and the programme leader of International Relations at the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences here at the University of Derby. He is currently the admissions tutor for International Relations and Diplomacy. He is also a Fellow of the Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St Andrews.