2020-21 International Politics in the Nuclear Age Syllabus

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This course aims to provide you with an interdisciplinary understanding of international nuclear politics from the advent of the atomic bomb project in 1941 to the present day.  The first part of the course will be devoted to an episodic study of the history of nuclear politics during the Cold War, with the aim of showing how the danger of atomic and nuclear war decisively shaped the conflict between the US and the USSR—and how it determined its ending.  The second part introduces the problem of dual-use and the challenges of nuclear proliferation. It includes a Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty simulation exercise. The third part explores contemporary problems and modes of analysis:  of the key features of nuclear power politics today and major theoretical attempts to understand them.  The fourth part provides an overview of five attempts to solve the nuclear dilemma.

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Total activity time 10 weeks, 2 1 hour lectures/week, 3 1 hour seminars/semester
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Learning Objectives
  • Analyse the connection between the atomic bomb and the origins of the Cold War
  • Grasp the major dilemmas faced by US and Soviet leaders in the 1950s
  • Understand both historical and theoretical interpretations of the major Cold War crises
  • Show how the danger of nuclear war affected the US and the USSR in different ways in the 1980s
  • Explain unipolarity and the key debates about it
  • Show why nonproliferation has become a dominant policy objective of major states after the Cold War
  • Distinguish among leading theoretical attempts to contend with the nuclear revolution
  • Conceive of possible nuclear futures
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