BA History and Sociology

Year of entry: 2024

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

Course unit fact file
Unit code HSTM31712
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit will provide an introduction to the history and politics of nuclear weapons and to the culture of the nuclear age. You will examine and assess the impact of the nuclear age on human affairs. Topics will include the use of nuclear bombs at the end of the Second World War and the current threats of nuclear terrorism.


None, though other HSTM courses an advantage. Students must be able to attend for the full 2-hour class each week.


From the detonation of the first nuclear weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy and the culture surrounding them have shaped our lives and the world in which we live. Nuclearism transformed international military, political and economic relationships. It also transformed popular culture and social life: art, literature and film as well as politics and military doctrine have all reflected and embodied the traumas of nuclear culture. Accessible to scientists and non-scientists, this course explores the origins and development of nuclearism and nuclear culture from the wartime Manhattan Project to the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the current debate about the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. As we face claims of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the ongoing threat of nuclear terrorism and a potential energy crisis for which some argue nuclear power is the only sustainable solution, the course also asks if history offers any help in understanding our present nuclear predicaments.

Assessment methods

Coursework (25%), 2000-word essay (25%) and individual 3500-word project (50%) [HSTM31712 – 20 credits)

Feedback methods

An informal and interactive approach is taken, and students may ask questions at any time during classes. Specific queries can be dealt with by email or during office hours; the lecturer will provide contact details in the course handbook. All submitted coursework will be returned with annotations and individual feedback explaining the mark awarded. General feedback will be given in class and on blackboard. Group meetings will provide direction and feedback on 20-credit project work.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 178

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Simone Turchetti Unit coordinator

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