SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMN225822
Module Leader n/a
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject GCU London
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)
  • C (May start)

Summary of Content

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the emerging concept of the digital state and open government, develop in them a critical awareness of its potential, structures and dynamics, as well as its expanding role in international politics, economics and diplomacy together with the challenges it faces and the changes it is bringing to society and the relationship between state and citizen and between nations. The world is experiencing a revolutionary change that has ushered a blending of the digital with the analogue worlds, the role of governments at a national level is being challenged, with the taxpayer seen as a 'user' with needs and the infrastructure of government seen as a service provider. The international role of the state is also being challenged, by the erosion of the traditional means of control and by the ease by which domestic issues have a global, immediate and potentially explosive reach; states don't control the narrative anymore. These changes have also brought the phenomena of open government to the fore, the idea that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant' and that a government that opens up its data and its information allows for greater accountability and a shift in the social contract to one of partnership between elector and elected. The speed at which the digital revolution and open government are disrupting the world economy and the public sector will be discussed and examined. Artificial intelligence is seen as the future of automation across all disciplines, billions of pounds are spent in research and development, and applications from medicine, to driver-less cars, to the penal system, are being hailed as the future. Candidates on the module will participate in and be equipped to relate to a movement that is defining the management, communication, and diplomacy of the future. Artificial intelligence and the future of a digital government.


Introduction; global reach of the digital state; necessary skills to study and evaluate the digital state; role of the digital state in international security and violent non-state actors, the digital state - advantages and negative impacts. The foundations of digital by default and what it does to the fabric of government. Key Themes: 1. The digital state and its influence on: foreign policy advice, negotiations between governments, and traditional diplomacy. 2. How the digital state is now an integral part of diplomacy and statecraft, including a discussion of the role of digital in policy formation, including service and implementation mechanisms. The impact of the digital state on diplomatic missions and other government departments; skills needed to maximise effective use of the digital state. 3. The Adoption of a new, service model paradigm for government and how it shifts the social contract towards partnership instead of subservience. The new lens; agile, user centric and lean 4. The Internet as a way of democratising diplomacy and government; case study: e-government and e-diplomacy in Estonia. 5. Social Media and Diplomacy. 6. The proliferation of influence on policy through the Internet, including actions of other governments, media, NGOs, non-state actors, the citizenry, and 'the virtual secretariat'. 7. M. Gov and cyber security. The challenges to state digital communication through cyber-attacks and cyber theft. 8. Challenges to policy making and to diplomacy in the digital state; including, cyber security, information overload, extreme speed of access (which complicates policy formation), open access to information (which limits experts' advantage). New approaches to making policy such as using data to model outcomes with data science. Managing expectations of citizens for greater access to policy formation due to increased access to cheap and ubiquitous digital technology, as well as dealing with the greater influence of non-state actors on policy formation. 9. The role of globalisation in the emergence of e-diplomacy and the digital state. 10. Open government and transparency: Soft power, skills and accountability. 11. Artificial intelligence and the future of a digital government. We explore the basis of artificial intelligence, its ethical conundrums, its early applications, and its present and future role in the running of the state, both at a central and local level and clarifying some of the myths surrounding the term and the discipline.

Learning Outcomes

On successfull completion of the module the students should be able to:-1. Demonstrating a critical awareness of the digital state, its potential, components, structures and dynamics as well as its expanding role in international diplomacy in different domains. (CW01, CW02)2. Critically investigate and assess the role of the digital state and its transformational impact, both actual and potential, on international diplomacy. (CW01, CW02)3. Critically appraise nation state strategies and their implementation to successfully engage in the digital domain. (CW01)

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The teaching and learning strategy includes the use of a variety of techniques including guided independent study, lectures, and seminars conducted by academic staff to develop efficient and effective understanding of digital diplomacy. The module delivery will in parts be facilitated by senior practitioners from the field of Digital Diplomacy to establish practical understanding of academic topics/issues as the aim is to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Lectures provide the theoretical aspect of this module, while seminars, case studies, simulation exercises and tutorials are in place to support individual learning. There will also be extensive use of case studies to give students the opportunity of learning from real-time examples. Technology as a communication means (e.g. youtube, twitter and other social media platforms) will feature heavily. Some of these case studies will be required to resolve in groups to focus on joint/group understanding. The use of cases set in different contexts intends to promote 'situated learning' and to view problems from the perspective of those who are confronted with strategic challenges, choices, and decisions frequently. This is reflected in the assessment strategy of this module. Students are tasked to perform an in depth analysis of a government or non-governmental organisation's digital stance and strategy (CW01) and present recommendations including mock-ups for an enhanced strategic approach to digital diplomacy (CW02).

Indicative Reading

-108 Due to its integrative nature, there is no core text for this module. BBackground reading (Indicative) b7 Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (Editors) (2015) Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice . Abingdon, UK: Routledge. b7 Bjola, C. & Pamment, J. (2018) Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism: The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy. Abingdon, UK: Routledge b7 Broad, E. (2018) Made by Humans - The AI Condition Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press b7 Chitty, N; Li Ji; Gary D. Rawnsley, G.D.; and Hayden, C. (Editors) (2017) The Routledge Handbook of Soft Power (Routledge International Handbooks) Abingdon, UK b7 Routledge. Fletcher, T. (2016) Naked Diplomacy: Power and Statecraft in the Digital Age. London, UK b7 Harper Collins. Gore, A. (2013) The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change New York, NY, US: Random House. b7 Greenway, A.; Terrett, B.; Bracken, M. and Loosemore, T. (2018) Digital Transformation at Scale: Why the Strategy Is Delivery (Perspectives) London, UK: London Publishing Partnership. b7 Levine, R.; Locke, C.; Searls, D.; Weinberger, D.; and McKee, J. (2009) The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10 th Anniversary Edition. New York, US: Basic Books b7 Pamment, J. (2018) British Public Diplomacy and Soft Power: Diplomatic Influence and The Digital Revolution . London, UK; Palgrave Macmillan. b7 Pollock, R. (2018) Open Revolution: Rewriting the Rules of the Information Age . London, UK: Open Knowledge International b7 Sandre, A. (2015) Digital Diplomacy; Conversations on Innovation in Foreign Policy . London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Journals and Online Anagondahalli, D. & Lin Zhu (2016) Culture's role in public diplomacy: predicting and preventing crises , The Journal of International Communication, 22:1, pp 64-81 Anholt, S (2018) The Good Country Index [Accessed 24/12/18] Available from <> Bates, J (2012) " This is what modern deregulation looks like": co-optation and contestation in the shaping of the UK's Open Government Data Initiative [Accessed 24/12/18] Available from : <> Dash, A (2012) The web we lost [Accessed 24/12/18] Available from: <> Elena, S.; Aquilino, N. and Rivie9re, A (2014) Emerging Impacts in Open Data in the Judiciary Branches in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay [Accessed 24/12/18] Available from <> Emirates247 (2018) Abdullah bin Zayed inaugurates Sheikh Zayed Gallery at British Museum [Accessed 20/09/2018] Available from <> Jamieson, A. (2018) 'Diplomacy has been 'weaponized' with memes, trolling, online polls' [ Accessed 12/02/19] Available from <> Kassen, M. (2013) A promising phenomenon of open data: A case study of the Chicago open data project Government Information Quarterly Volume 30, Issue 4, October 2013, Pages 508-513 <> Leetaru, K. (2019) 'How Instagram Democracy Is Leaving Accessibility and Inclusiveness Behind" [ Accessed 12/02/19] Available from <> Liu Hui and Russell, H. A. (2018) China's soft power and its Lunar New Year's Culture [Accessed 20/09/2018] Available from: <> Manifesto for Agile Software Development (2008) Open Revolution: Rewriting the rules of the information age [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: / <> O'Reilly, T. (2011) Government as a Platform [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: <> Pollock, R. (2018) Open Revolution: Rewriting the rules of the information age [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: Pollock Sandre, Andreas (2013) Twitter for Diplomats: A Guide to the Fastest Growing Digital Diplomacy Tool . Retrieved from DiPLO. [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: <> b7 Tauberer, J. (2014) Open Government Data: The Book (2nd Edition) . [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: <> The Interpreter (2018). Diplomacy in the post-broadcasting era [Accessed 20/09/2018] Available from: <> The Open Data Handbook [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available from: <> Velk, T. and Jade Xiao. The complex language of East-West diplomacy [Accessed 20/09/2018] Available from: <> Worthy, B (2013) David Cameron's Transparency Revolution? The Impact of Open Data in the UK [Accessed 24/12/2018] Available at SSRN: <> or <>

Transferrable Skills

-360b7 Communication and presentation skills b7 Problem solving b7 Critical thinking and evaluation b7 Information retrieval Data analysis b7 Data interpretation b7 Teamwork b7 Peer learning b7 Interpersonal skills b7 Negotiation b7 Written and oral communication skills b7 Independent learning and self-management b7 Ethical conduct b7 Time management b7 Reflective learning

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 4.00
Independent Learning (FT) 72.00
Assessment (FT) 40.00
Tutorials (FT) 2.00
Lectures (FT) 32.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 45% Presentation - Individually critical analyse a government or non-governmental organisation's digital stance, its strengths and weaknesses.
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 45% Presentation - Individually present recommendations and mock-ups of elements for an enhanced strategic approach to digital diplomacy of the case examined in CW01. 15 minutes.