Programme And Module Handbook
Course Details in 2024/25 Session

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Module Title LM Nuclear Weapons in International Relations
Department Political Sci & Intern'tl Stud
Module Code 08 37832
Module Lead Patrick Porter
Level Masters Level
Credits 20
Semester Semester 2
Restrictions None
Contact Hours Lecture-20 hours
Seminar-10 hours
Guided independent study-170 hours
Total: 200 hours
Description The nuclear revolution remains one of the most consequential developments in international politics. Nuclear weapons are unique in their capacity to inflict genocide instantly, they alter the calculus of governments, proliferation risks are a constant source of anxiety (as well as part of our popular culture), and they consume significant resources. With new modernisation programmes from Washington to Moscow, and with relatively recent proliferation in Asia, the issue will not go away soon. And recent shifts in domestic politics are putting the question of nuclear possession and use back on the table of discussion. All students live in the shadow of the bomb, and British students have grown up in a nuclear armed state. Britain’s largest scale war of the post 1945 period, the invasion of Iraq, was partly a war of counter-proliferation.

Yet within education, it remains largely a silent subject. Very few modules about nukes exist at the postgraduate level in the UK. This module provides a remedy. It acquaints students with the rich body of theory that has grown up around nukes, given that the prospect of nuclear exchange is still a possibility in the realm of conjecture rather than history. And it challenges students to evaluate the question both empirically (“is”) and normatively (“ought”)
Learning Outcomes By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Explain and critically evaluate the history of nuclear weapons and the ideas attached to them from the era of Nuclear Monopoly to the present day
  • Articulate and critically evaluate competing visions of how nuclear weapons should be understood
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of debates around what drives proliferation, deterrence and disarmament
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of theoretical approaches to international relations
Assessment 37832-01 : Bibliography - 2000 words : Coursework (50%)
37832-02 : Examination - 120 mins : Exam (Centrally Timetabled) - Written Unseen (50%)
Assessment Methods & Exceptions Assessment:

2000 word bibliography paper (50%)
2 hour exam (50%)


Reassessment by failed component
Reading List