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Nuclear Asia


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA program in Asian Studies or the MA program in International Relations


Why did some Asian countries build or attempt to develop their own nuclear bombs? What international, regional and/or technological factors caused or enabled the nuclear pursuits of those Asian countries? How did other stake-holders – for instance, international nuclear regime, neighboring countries or alliance partners – react to such nuclear proliferation in Asia? This course first begins with a general introduction to historical, theoretical and conceptual foundations of global nuclear politics and moves into exploring specific cases in South and East Asia in the context of their nuclear development as well as their interaction with other external actors. Due to intrinsic dual-use nature of nuclear technology, this course will cover both military and civilian nuclear programs in this region. In addition, the history of nuclear aspirations in Asia has been clearly intertwined with such conflictual relationship as India vs. Pakistan and China vs. Taiwan or less clearly in other cases as two Koreas and Japan. Thus, weekly seminar themes will be structured, taking into account this interconnected nature. This course also aims to help students learn diverse academic debates about nuclear history in this region and develop/apply their practical knowledge in current nuclear issues through different types of written assignments: critical literature review and op-ed/policy memo. By the end of the semester, students are expected to better understand both universal and unique natures of nuclear proliferation in Asia which have been simultaneously shaped or affected by the development of the Atomic Age at a global level.

Course objectives

  • Acquire general knowledge of international nuclear history and nuclear-related IR theories & concepts;

  • Advance knowledge and understadning related to the causes, process, and consequences of nuclear proliferation in Asia;

  • Identify and familiarize with academic debates in the specific cases covered by this course;

  • Develop critical thinking on how nuclear Aisa presents a challenge to the development or continuation of international nuclear non-proliferation regime;

  • Critically analze written, audio and visual materials;

  • Learn and improve skills for academic & policy-relevant writing, seminar moderation, and presentation


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  1. Participation (15%)
  2. Seminar moderation (10%)
  3. Op-ed or policy memo on a current issue (1000 words, 15%)
  4. Presentation on op-ed or policy memo (10%)
  5. Critical literature review (4000 words, 50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determing the weighted average.


The resit is available for one or more of the written assignments which fail(s) to pass (5.49 or lower) in case that a final grade for the whole course is 5.49 or lower. This resit opportunity is only given to students who submitted written assignments in the first instance but the substantive quality of the submitted output is insufficient. A resit for other course components is not possible.

Inspection and feedback

Students may make an individual appointment with the instructor within 30 days after the publication of their final grades in order to review the grades.

Reading list

The list of required readings (accessible via Leiden University Library) will be published on Brightspace before the semester starts.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: [Naam Onderwijsadministratie](link naar contactgegevens OA)