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Last modified: 09 Jul 2019 09:52

Course Overview

The course will trace and illustrate the salient strategic, technological and political developments and related controversies in the history of nuclear weapons since 1945. In the process the intellectual integrity of the notion of the 'First' and 'Second' nuclear ages will be tested as will the arguments about the impact of proliferation on world security, the viability of deterrence as the bedrock for security in a multi-nuclear system, and the real dangers posed by the advent of the 'new terrorism' and its possible links with WMD.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Cheryl Graham

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Programme Level 3
  • Either International Relations (IR) (Studied) or Politics (PI) (Studied)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the history of nuclear issues as well as numerous contemporary nuclear-related challenges. Historical events including the use of atomic weapons against Japan at the end of World War Two and the onset of the Cold War will be considered and analysed using a variety of theoretical models, primarily Realism. Cold War challenges associated with arms control will be addressed at length in order to illustrate the inherent challenges associated with nuclear weapons in an anarchic strategic environment. Moving on to the current era, the course will address case studies such as Iranian nuclear policy and the compatibility of ‘jihadism’ and deterrence. Region specific examples will also be utilised in order to test the theoretical integrity of arguments related to the so-called ‘nuclear proliferation debate’. The concept of deterrence will feature prominently throughout the course. Firstly in understanding how it contributed to the Cold War strategic balance and then how it can be adapted to the post-Cold War environment.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1 x 3000 Word Essay (40%), 1 x Exam (60%)

Formative Assessment

Formative Assessments in Tutorials



Course Learning Outcomes


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