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BSc International Management with American Business Studies

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
The Nuclear Age: Global Nuclear Threats from Hiroshima to Today

Unit code UCIL31212
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Since the Cold War, fear surrounding nuclear weapons remains prominent. This unit provides students with an introduction to the history and politics of nuclear weapons and to the culture of the nuclear age.

The unit addresses the use of nuclear bombs at the end of the Second World War through to the current threats of nuclear terrorism - from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to nuclear proliferation and testing up to modern times.

Students will develop an understanding of the culture of the nuclear age (films, literature, music, art) over the second half of the 20th century to the present, as well as assessing the impact of the nuclear age on human affairs.



UCIL units are designed to be accessible to undergraduate students from all disciplines.

UCIL units are credit-bearing and it is not possible to audit UCIL units or take them for additional/extra credits. You must enrol following the standard procedure for your School when adding units outside of your home School.

If you are not sure if you are able to enrol on UCIL units you should contact your School Undergraduate office. You may wish to contact your programme director if your programme does not currently allow you to take a UCIL unit.

You can also contact the UCIL office if you have any questions.

This unit is also available with a different course unit code. To take a UCIL unit you must choose the unit with a UCIL prefix.



The unit aims to:

  • Provide an introduction to the history and politics of nuclear weapons from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, to nuclear proliferation and testing, and up to modern times
  • Develop an understanding of the culture of the nuclear age (films, literature, music, art) over the second half of the 20th century and beyond
  • Assess the impact of the nuclear age on human affairs


Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Identify the origins of nuclear weapons and the debates surrounding their use in 1945
  • Describe the reasons underlying the proliferation and control of nuclear weapons and their effect on military strategy
  • Assess the roles and relationships of science, politics and state during and after the Cold War
  • Analyse cultural phenomena associated with nuclear weapons, including film, literature, television and the media
  • Prepare written reviews/essays aimed at different audiences


 In addition, for 20 credits:

  • Research and write a literature-based review, integrating historical, technical and cultural contexts 



  • Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the end of the Second World War
  • Nuclear proliferation: the USSR and the arms race, 1945-1955
  • The Hydrogen Bomb and Nuclear Fear, 1950-1965
  •  The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
  • Civil Defence, CND and anti-nuclear protest. The War Game (film)
  • Nuclear test bans and nuclear intelligence, 1963-1996
  • Broken arrows: nuclear weapons and reactor accidents. Windscale 1957
  • Nuclear smuggling and nuclear terrorism: current threats
  • Nuclear Britain: history and future of Britain's military and civil nuclear programmes
  • Dr Strangelove and nuclear culture (film)

Teaching and learning methods

11 x 1 hour lecture

11 x 1 hour seminar

NB Student must be available to attend the full 2 hour class each week


Assessment methods

1.    1000 word book review (25%)

2.    1000 word mini-research project (25%)

3.    2000 word essay (50%)


Feedback methods

Via Blackboard

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 89

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Simone Turchetti Unit coordinator

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