This module examines the historical and structural, institutional and normative aspects of global nuclear order. Controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction and eliminating existing arsenals remains a fundamental challenge for global and regional security and continues to shape international security threat perceptions and actions of powerful states in unpredictable and often destabilising ways. The module will explore: the history of the nuclear age; theories of nuclear deterrence, nuclear proliferation, counter-proliferation, nuclear abstinence, and nuclear disarmament; and the global politics of nuclear weapons since 9/11. Seminars will explore critical nuclear controversies to apply conceptual and empirical understanding to specific cases, such as the bombing of Hiroshima, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ukraine’s denuclearisation, Iran’s nuclear programme;; the UK and Tridents; and civil society and nuclear disarmament. It will be helpful to have some background in international relations.
Module learning outcomes
Demonstrate empirical and conceptual knowledge of nuclear proliferation, non-proliferation, and disarmament processes and issues.
Identify, discuss and critically appraise competing frameworks for understanding relationships between a range of nuclear issues and policy actions.
Organise and synthesise concepts and information to assess the complexities of contemporary of nuclear proliferation, non-proliferation, and disarmament challenges.
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.
Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than six weeks after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.
Andrew Futter, The Politics of Nuclear Weapons (London: Sage, 2015)
Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate, 3rd edn. (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2012).
Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 3rd edn. (London: Macmillan for International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2004).
William Walker, A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011).
William Potter and Gaukar Mukhatzhanova (eds), Forecasting Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century (Volumes 1 and 2) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010).