STV1212 – Nuclear Weapons and International Conflict

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Nuclear weapons pose an enduring challenge to international security and stability. In this class, students will examine the nuclear strategies of different nuclear weapons states, ranging from small states to the most powerful states in the international system.

Students will study basic theories about how nuclear weapons affect international conflict, and why nuclear weapons states adopt different strategies. Delving inside the state, we will examine how perception and bias affects how decision-makers seek to operationalize these strategies. 

This interactive class is organized around three thematic clusters:

  • the effect of nuclear weapons on international politics and conflict
  • nuclear strategy in theory and practice
  • strategic stability

Students will use theoretical and empirical approaches, as well as simulations and applied analysis, in studying these issues. Students will be exposed to practitioner perspectives in analyzing how states seek to tackle the risks of a nuclear arms race in Europe. They will explore the dynamics of crisis escalation through a simulation exercise based on a nuclear crisis in northern Norway in 1995.

Learning outcome


Having completed the course, students can:

  • Understand theoretical and empirical debates about how nuclear weapons influence state behavior
  • Be able to discuss key concepts of coercive strategies, such as deterrence and compellence, including their key limitations
  • Be familiar with the basic features of nuclear postures in different states and be able to explain what produces different posture choices
  • Know how different types of military technology, such as nuclear or conventional weapons, affect military strategy and strategic stability
  • Understand how perceptions and norms can affect the purpose and role of nuclear weapons in conflict


Having completed the course, students can:

  • Be able to understand and synthesize arguments in a systematic way
  • Have experience with using theoretical concepts and insights to understand and debate state behavior
  • Have practical skills in analytical writing
  • Have skills in providing constructive feedback to fellow students
  • Have experience with simulating state representatives conducting an international crisis negotiation aimed at de-escalating an international nuclear conflict


Having completed the course, students will be able to:

  • Distinguish between theory and empirical information from specific cases of nuclear weapons states
  • Analyze and critically evaluate arguments empirically and theoretically
  • Apply analytical perspectives and empirical evidence to understand policy debates and discuss policy choices
  • distinguish between conclusions that are based on specific cases, and those that are based on general concepts and theories


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Lectures and simulation exercises.

Compulsory activities

  • Write two response papers (500 words). The topics of the response papers will be assigned
  • Comment on other student's response papers
  • Prepare questions for visiting practitioners which must be submitted in Canvas beforehand
  • Active participation in simulation exercise. Teachers will evaluate your participation

When the compulsory activities are approved, the results will be registered. The compulsory activity is valid the semester you complete it. If you want to retake the exam, you need to retake the compulsory activity.

See The Faculty of Social Sciences' rules regarding compulsory tuition activities.

Absence from compulsory activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.


Four-hour written exam.

You must have passed the compulsory activities in order to sit the exam.

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

If you want to resit the exam a later semester, you must be admitted to the teaching and complete the compulsory activity.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language