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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The United States and the Nuclear Proliferation Problem, 1945-2015 (HIST10392)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryAs a course, 'The United States and the Nuclear Proliferation Problem' will give you a chance to learn about, assess, and understand one of the most contentious issues our contemporary world faces. Learning about US approaches to the conundrum of nuclear proliferation from 1945 to the present day permits an understanding of how the pre-eminent nuclear power met (successfully and unsuccessfully) a wide range of proliferation challenges, engaged in creating a regime to stem further proliferation, and how this is connected to wider ideas of American empire and hegemony.
Course description In 2015, debates over the proliferation of nuclear weapons are dominated by two nations: Iran and the United States of America. One has had a chequered, off/on relationship with nuclear capability. The other is the original nuclear weapon state, the foremost global power, and seeming arbiter of who does or does not qualify for the world's most terrifying weapons.

This course will encourage students to think about how and why the United States has approached the 'problem' of nuclear proliferation. From the earliest efforts to hold on to the 'atomic secret' during and immediately after the Manhattan Project through to the situation in Iran, the whys and wherefores of anti-proliferation efforts will be discussed and dissected. Not only will there be case studies of US responses to proliferation (or attempted proliferation) by a wide range of nation-states, the course will also address non-state actors and 'nuclear terrorism', global proliferation networks, and the technology behind 'the bomb'.

Nuclear weapons are not merely technological devices, but political tools, cultural products, and imaginary constructs. As a result of this, this course will draw upon scholarship from across a range of disciplines. It will also draw extensively from the rich body of primary source material available from US and other archives. By so doing, it will equip students to understand one of the most contentious and problematic issues that our twenty-first century world faces.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 50 3780).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  17
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Summative Assessment Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 344 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 30 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1x 1500 word source analysis exercise - 10%
2x 3500 word research essays - 40%
2x 2 hour exam - 30%
Non-written skills assessment - 20%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Paper 12:00
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Paper 22:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Communicate a detailed understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear proliferation from 1945 until the present day;
  2. Engage in historical arguments both orally and in writing;
  3. Set their own historical research agenda in relation to the study of nuclear proliferation issues by: Formulating seminar and essay questions; Identifying the significance of key changes and continuities in policy and perception; Understanding key theoretical concepts surrounding the position of nuclear weapons in international relations
  4. Understand the utility of different types of primary materials, written and non-written, in evaluating historical processes;
  5. Access library and IT resources efficiently.
Reading List
Cirincione, Joseph, Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007)

Gavin, Francis J., Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012)

Maddock, Shane J., Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for American Atomic Supremacy from World War II to the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010)

Mueller, John, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Richelson, Jeffrey, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006)

Tannenwald, Nina, The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons Since 1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Westad, Odd Arne and Melvyn P. Leffler, The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Vols.1-3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Wittner, Lawrence S., The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol.1: One World Or None: A history of the nuclear disarmament movement through 1953 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993)

______The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol.2: Resisting the Bomb: A history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, 19541970 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997) one copy available in the main library

______The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol.3: Towards Nuclear Abolition: A history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, 1971 to the present (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003)

There will also be extensive use of the journals British Journal for the History of Science, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Diplomatic History, Cold War History, International History Review, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, International Security, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of Strategic Studies, Non-proliferation Review, and others.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNuclear Proliferation
Course organiserDr Malcolm Craig
Course secretaryMiss Alexandra Adam
Tel: (0131 6)50 3767
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