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icono de curso

International Security and Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Politics of Nuclear Weapons


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Elective Courses




The invention of nuclear weapons is said to have launched a new era in military thinking and international politics. Nuclear strategy, the nuclear arms race, and efforts to control it were core to the dynamics of the Cold War and its demise. Today, once again nuclear politics is front-page news with the unfolding developments regarding North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal, and nuclear weapons modernization in nuclear-weapon states, especially the US and Russia. At the same time, pressure for nuclear disarmament has not abated and in 2017 a new treaty totally prohibiting the use, stockpiling, and production of nuclear weapons was agreed by the majority of non-nuclear weapon states. The course will provide students with the necessary background knowledge and analytical lenses to help us make sense of these turbulent developments and other nuclear problems. It will cover and critically analyze nuclear politics, focusing on issues such as the drivers of nuclear proliferation, policies to prevent and reverse proliferation, the utility of nuclear weapons for deterrence and coercion, and ethical and legal issues related to nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, and disarmament. In the second half of the course, those issues will be explored further through empirical case studies organized around student presentations.


  • Class participation: 15%
  • One written essay of 1,400 words (+/- 10%) on the questions for the 5 last classes: 20%
  • One oral presentation of about 20 minutes and a 500-word written summary of the main arguments in the presentation (+/- 10%): 20%
  • Once serving as a discussant of a presentation made by a colleague: 5%
  • Final research paper of 3,000 words (+/- 10%): 40%