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Home > History home > Prospective students > Undergraduate > The Bomb - A History: Atomic Weaponry and Society in the 20th Century
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The Bomb - A History: Atomic Weaponry and Society in the 20th Century


Value: two units


 Dr Emmett Sullivan


Taught through weekly two-hour seminars and supervisions of dissertation through a series of 1-to-1 meetings


Taught unit: 3-hour exam (70%), best two of three coursework essays (20%), oral presentation (10%); dissertation unit: 10,000-word dissertation (100%)


NB Not to be taken in conjunction with Group 2 course unit: HS2280 ‘The Devil’s Decade’: Britain, America and the Great Slump, 1929-41


This course will examine the development of atomic weaponry and its effects on Western society during the twentieth century. The A- and H-Bombs are arguably to the most influential technological developments of the last century, affecting geopolitics, military strategy, and the shape of post-1945 society, and well as putting in the hand of a few the power to render the Earth uninhabitable. This had a profound effect on politics and society. The emphasis will be more on the way that geopolitics shaped the creation and use of "the Bomb," rather than the scientific history of its development However, other perspectives on how technology shaped society will be considered, as with the writings of H G Wells or using modern reinterpretations of events, such as Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen or the BBC’s Hiroshima. Term one concentrates on how "the Genie got out of the bottle," while term two will deal with the effects on World politics and Western society of "the Bomb." The focus of the course will be predominantly on the United States and Britain, but in the context of post-1945 Super Power conflict, and arms proliferation, with France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa becoming atomic, if not nuclear, weapon states. The main historical material considered will be from the 1930s through to the 1970s.



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