Nuclear Weapons and Disarmament

Subject POLS90030 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks. A repeat seminar may be scheduled, subject to enrolments.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level

Non Allowed Subjects:

166-576 Nuclear Weapons and Disarmament

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Prof. Richard Tanter

Subject Overview:

This subject provides an advanced introduction and critical review of the development and spread of nuclear weapons, the challenges they present, and approaches to their control and to disarmament. This will include a critical examination of strategies for the use of nuclear weapons, measures to reduce their numbers, proliferation and risk of use (including an examination of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), and whether complete nuclear disarmament is possible and how it might be achieved.

A feature of this subject is that most of the lectures will be delivered by visiting experts, which in 2012 included Professor Gareth Evans, Professor Peter Hayes, Professor Michael Hamel-Green, Professor John Langmore and Assoc. Prof. Tilman Ruff.

  • Enabling students to gain thorough knowledge of major aspects of the history of nuclear weapons.
  • Strengthening analytical capacity about the complexities of competing nuclear strategies such as deterrence.
  • Increasing understanding of the consequences of the existence and potential use of nuclear weapons.
  • Reviewing possibilities and requirements for and the potential process of nuclear disarmament.

Written work totalling 5000 words comprising a 1000 word essay (20%) to be submitted early in the semester, a 2000 word essay (40%) due in mid-semester, and an essay on a set topic of 2000 words (40%) to be submitted during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment that is submitted after the due date and up to 10 working days late without an approved extension will be marked on a pass/fail basis only. Assessment that is submitted later than 10 working days will not be accepted or marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bombs, Vintage, 2011

Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence Now, Cambridge U.P., 2003

George Perkovich and James M Acton (eds.), Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2009. (available online)

Eliminating Nuclear Threats - A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers: Report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND Report), Canberra/Tokyo, November 2009. (available online)

Recommended Texts:

SIPRI, SIPRI Yearbook 2008: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, OUP, Oxford, 2008.

United Nations, The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, Vol 32 (Part I): 2007, Disarmament Resolutions and Decisions of the Sixty-Second Session of the UN General Assembly.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Increasing capacity for contemporary historical analysis of international relations.
  • Strengthening analytical capacity for national and international political and strategic review.
  • Strengthening personal capacity to identify crucial factors influencing issues, analyse them logically and develop persuasive arguments about them.
  • Further development of eloquence as a writer.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of International Relations

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