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Global Politics of Nuclear Weapons - POL00043H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nick Ritchie
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18

Module aims

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.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

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.

Indicative reading

  • 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).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.