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

Undergraduate Course: Confrontation, Proliferation, Representation: The Nuclear Cold War in Policy and in Public, 1945-1989 (HIST10376)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course explores the influence and relevance of nuclear weapons to the conduct of the Cold War. It examines nuclear issues through politics, society, and popular culture. The course will equip students with the knowledge to offer a critical understanding of issues that still affect the world around us.
Course description This course begins with a consideration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their place within an emerging Cold War. These events provide the basis for a study that encompasses the role, significance, and imagery of nuclear weapons across the span of the Cold War. The result of the Cold War was, in Europe at least, an equilibrium that proved durable for forty years and then dissolved without bloodshed. How far did nuclear weapons contribute to this 'long peace'? In what ways did nuclear weapons alter (or not alter) the terrain of superpower and wider international relations? This course will not simply concentrate on the nuclear rivalry between the USA and USSR, but will also examine the place of global nuclear proliferation and the deployment of images of nuclear conflict. Thus, the course will equip students with the knowledge to offer a critical understanding of issues that still affect the world around us.

Seminar 1: Do nuclear weapons matter?: John Mueller vs. the World
Seminar 2: Atomic Diplomacy?: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Origins of the Cold War
Seminar 3: A Peculiar Monster: The Nuclear 1950s
Seminar 4: A Bloody Union Jack on Top of It!: The Anglo-American Nuclear Relationship
Seminar 5: The Brink of Armageddon?: The Berlin and Cuban Crises
Seminar 6: The Metaphor That Ate New York: Nuclear Weapons and Popular Culture, 1950-1969
Seminar 7: Nuclear Apartheid?: The Limited Test Ban and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty
Seminar 8: That 70's Show: Superpower Arms Control from Nixon to Carter
Seminar 9: A Dream of Nightmare Proportions: The 'Islamic Bomb'
Seminar 10: Bleak and Entirely Plausible: A British Cold War Nuclear Culture?
Seminar 11: ABLE ARCHER to Reykjavik: Nuclear Arms and the End of the Cold War
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second 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).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Alperovitz, Gar, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (London: Pluto Press, 1994)

Gaddis, John Lewis, Gordon, P.H., May, E.R. & Rosenberg, J. (eds), Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Gavin, Francis J., Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012) - copy on order for the library. This will be a suggested, but not essential, purchase for students.

Hennessy, Peter, The Secret State: Preparing For The Worst, 1945-2010 (London: Penguin, 2010)

Jones, Matthew, After Hiroshima: The United States, Race, and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

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)

Quinlan, Michael, Thinking About Nuclear Weapons : principles, problems, prospects (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

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)

Shapiro, Jerome F., Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film (London: Routledge, 2002)

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

Weart, Spencer R., Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988)

Winkler, Allan M., Life Under A Cloud: American Anxiety About The Atom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The transferable skills for this course will consist of the following skills:

- Developing the students' ability to organize and lead meetings through taking control of seminar discussions on selected weeks

- Developing the ability to express complex arguments through giving oral presentations on selected weeks

- Developing student competency with IT resources and developing the necessary skills to conduct thoughtful and effective independent research
KeywordsNuclear Cold War
Course organiserDr Malcolm Craig
Course secretaryMiss Alexandra Adam
Tel: (0131 6)50 3767
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