Not available in 2020/21
IR372      Half Unit
Nuclear Non-proliferation and World Politics (Special Topics in International Relations)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Etel Solingen (Susan Strange Visting Professor during 2019/20)

Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course will apply theories of international relations to explain why some states have pursued nuclear weapons whereas most others have abstained. What is the role of the nonproliferation regime, major powers, international norms, democracy, and globalization on decisions to acquire or renounce nuclear weapons? How do international institutions, major powers and other states respond to violations of international legal commitments not to develop nuclear weapons? What is the relative effectiveness of sanctions and positive inducements in persuading states to abandon nuclear weapons programs? Countries under focus will be North Korea, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, Iraq, Libya, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Egypt, among others. There will be simulations of negotiations geared to dissuade actual or potential nuclear proliferators from pursuing such designs.


9 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

1 x Essay (1,500 words) and 1 x Essay Plan (1 page) in the Lent Term. 

Indicative reading

Etel Solingen, Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2007)

William Potter and G. Mukhatzhanova, “Divining Nuclear Intentions” International Security 33, 1 (2008)

Nicholas L. Miller, “The Secret Success of Nonproliferation Sanctions,” International Organization  68, No. 4 (2014): 913-944.

Nicholas L. Miller, “Nuclear Dominoes: A Self-Defeating Prophecy?” Security Studies 23, No. 1 (2014): 33-73.

Nina Tannenwald, The Vanishing Nuclear Taboo? Foreign Affairs November/December 2018.

Etel Solingen (ed.), Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation (Cambridge University Press, 2012)


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Capped 2019/20: Yes (25)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication