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


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Elective Courses




This module aims to introduce students to the role of nuclear weapons in international affairs. In recent years nuclear weapons have re-emerged as an important global topic having been relegated to the margins of the international policy agenda since the end of the Cold War.  With the deterioration of NATO-Russia relations since 2014, the repeated flare-up of nuclear tensions in the Middle East and South and Northeast Asia, the collapse of nuclear arms control, the rise of efforts to ban nuclear weapons, and the decision by key nuclear powers to embark on a long-term nuclear modernization effort to upgrade or replace Cold War-era nuclear systems, and potentially to expand their arsenals, there is little doubt nuclear weapons will continue to play an important part in international affairs for decades to come. To understand these developments, this course will highlight the evolution of the nuclear-related policies and strategies adopted by the nuclear powers, the problem of nuclear proliferation as well as efforts to halt proliferation, the history and prospects of arms control and disarmament, and the impact of international law, ethics, norms and the environmental effects of nuclear use on international policymaking.  The course will aim to generate an appreciation of why the threat posed by nuclear war not only did not disappear with the end of the Cold War, but why the risks now seem to be increasing thirty years later.


Grades will be determined roughly on the following basis:

  • 20%: class contribution (participation and presentation)
  • 25%: critical text analysis 
  • 55%: final paper