The Politics of Nuclear Weapons

Module code: PL3129

Ever since the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the world has lived in fear of a nuclear war. Those fears were nearly realised on several occasions during the Cold War, most famously during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the casting vote of second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov prevented a Soviet nuclear torpedo strike on the US Navy and the all-out nuclear war that would inevitably follow. But what are the politics behind the most powerful weapons ever created?

This module will introduce you to the politics of nuclear weaponry. You'll look at the challenges created by nuclear weapons, and analyse different strategies to limit the spread and prevent the future use of nuclear weapons. You'll investigate specific case-studies of nuclear weapons states’ view on nuclear weapons, and assess the impact on wider regional security dynamics and rivalries. Plus, you'll critique the difficulties and dynamics that face future policymakers in striving to increase international security and reduce the dangers of nuclear use.

Learning

  • 30 hours of seminars
  • 120 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Essay, 2,500 words (50%)
  • Exam, 2 hours (50%)