The International History of Nuclear Weapons


Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences


Nuclear weaponry has been a component of military defense since WWII, when the atomic bomb was launched on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  From the development of nuclear fission in 1938 to the present, nuclear weapons have globally created challenges and encouraged systematic reform.  All the while the threat of nuclear war lingers in the midst of international relations.

This course studies the history and politics associated with nuclear weapons and the role of technology transfer in developing nuclear weaponry from a political and military perspective.  It will study the varying ideologies and concepts of these weapons from different states, as well as the efforts to control and eradicate nuclear weapons through international institutions that were designed to reduce the threat of a global nuclear war.

Please note that this course will be on-campus only for the Spring 17-18 quarter, it will not be recorded.


No prior background in international relations is necessary to participate in this course.

Topics include

  • Nuclear Fission & World War II
  • The Berlin & Cuban Missile Crises
  • The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
  • The US-Soviet Arms Race
  • Nuclear Weapons and International Order

Note on Course Availability

The course schedule is displayed for planning purposes – courses can be modified, changed, or cancelled. Course availability will be considered finalized on the first day of open enrollment. For quarterly enrollment dates, please refer to our graduate certificate homepage.

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