Course outline

Essay FAQs

Essay Training

Essay grading scheme




Research guides




Students with disabilities

Study guides

Wikipedia group project

Wikipedia grading scheme


HSCI 3463-001

Cold War Science

Spring Semester 2019


Instructor:     Peter Barker 
e-mail:          BarkerP [at] ou [dot] edu
tel.:              325-2242
Office:         PHSC 617 
Office hours: TuTh 1:30-2:30 pm, or by appt. 

Class times: Physical Sciences 323, TuTh 3:00-4:15pm
Course work: Students are expected to attend lectures and participate in class discussion. Individuals or groups will also be asked to gather information and report to the class, on an ad hoc basis. Outside class, students are expected to read assigned texts, and write a research essay and collaborate on a Wikipedia project. In addition to attending class students should expect to spend a minimum of 6 hours per week on course work.

TUTORING is available. TBA

Course Goals: Content: to present the history of offensive and defensive strategic weapons systems from 1945 to the present, examining the political and technological context in which they developed, and their connections to nuclear power and space exploration. Skills: critical reading; writing that emphasizes the reasoned defense of conclusions; gathering, evaluation and synthesis of information using print and electronic sources, collaboration on group projects.

Student preparation: This is an advanced humanities course: students are expected to be able to write essays, conduct independent research and read challenging books critically. In addition, the course presupposes a basic level of general knowledge about recent history. To assess student preparation, a test of ‘background knowledge' will be administered on January 17th. A graded test on class Organization and Procedures will be given on January 24.


Readings form background to class material for the week they are listed and should be read before class.


Gerard J. DeGroot, The Bomb: A Life (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2006)
David E. Hoffman, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy (New York: Anchor Books, 2009)
Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger and the New Power Politics (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2013)

Course reading on the Web

Additional course readings are available to currently enrolled students through CANVAS.

Study guides

Study Guide for DeGroot, The Bomb: A Life, click [here]

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Course outline (subject to change, last modified 10 Jan 2018)

The Manhattan Project and the Origins of the Cold War
week 1 DeGroot ch.'s 1-2;
JAN 15: Introduction; basic concepts; view Reading and Note Taking
JAN 17: Bookfinding exercise; Research Essay training: view Reading and Note Taking

week 2 DeGroot ch.'s 3-4;
JAN 22: Bookfinding exercise due; Research Essay training: view Using Quotations and Thesis and Introduction
JAN 24: O&P test; Research Essay training: view Structure and Style and Syntax

week 3 DeGroot ch.'s 5,6,7; George Orwell (1945) "You and the Atomic Bomb" (available on CANVAS);
download and view Citation Guide
JAN 29:  Begin essay research
JAN 31:  Continue essay research; Essay Training quiz opens

week 4 DeGroot ch.8, George Kennan's "Long Telegram" (1946)
FEB 05:   Continue essay research; plan essay
FEB 07:   Continue essay research; plan essay, Essay Training quiz deadline

week 5 DeGroot ch.'s 9,10
FEB 12:  Continue essay research; write essay
FEB 14:  Continue essay research; write essay

The Arms Race and the Space Race
week 6 DeGroot ch.' s 11,12;
FEB 19: Continue essay research; write essay
FEB 21: Continue essay research; write essay

week 7 DeGroot ch.'s 13,14
FEB 26:  Continue essay research; write essay
FEB 28:  Continue essay research; write essay; Research Essay due

week 8 Blight and Lang (2007) "Robert McNamara then and now" (available on CANVAS)
MAR 05  Start Wikipedia training
MAR 07 Deadline to start Wikipedia account; Deadline for Cold War quiz 1

week 9 required: Hoffman pp. 13-72, optional: 101-167
MAR 12 begin group project research
MAR 14 group project research


week 10 Hoffman pp. 167-376
MAR 26 group project research
MAR 28 group project research; deadline to complete Wikipedia training.

From the Cold War to the Second Nuclear Age
week 11 Bracken Ch.'s 1-3, esp. 82-90. Hoffman, pp. 72-100
APR 02 group project research
APR 04 group project research

week 12 Bracken Ch's 4,5, esp. ch. 5; Hoffman Ch's 10-12,16, esp. ch.16;
APR 09 Submit draft Wikipedia project for Peer Review
APR 11 Return Wikipedia project with suggestions for improvement

week 13 Hoffman pp. 401-423 & 439-58, esp. 412-2; Bracken Ch.'s 4,5 esp. ch. 5
APR 16  finalize group project
APR 18  Wikipedia group project due

week 14 Bracken Ch.'s 6,7; National Intelligence Council "Global Trends" (available on CANVAS)
APR 23 Reports on Wiki projects
APR 25 Reports on Wiki projects; Deadline for Cold War Quiz 2

week 15 Bracken Ch.'s 8,9, Conclusion + Afterword, if you have the paperback.
APR 30  Review: Retrospect and prospect
MAY 02  Review and exit questionnaire

Final Exam: 10:30am-12:30pm Wednesday, May 08

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There will be a graded test covering course Organization and Policies on January 24.
Students will also complete two research projects. The first will be a single-author Essay, to be submitted no later than February 28. The second will be a group Wikipedia project, to be completed no later than April 19, with a report in class the following week. See separate instructions for Research Essay and Wikipedia group project.
The Final Examination will be an essay examination, held in the same room as the class 10:30am-12:30pm on Wednesday May 08. The Final Examination questions will be posted on the class web site at least one week prior to the exam. Students may consult books and notes during the exam, but transcription of complete answers is prohibited.

Grades will be computed as follows: O&P test 5%; online quizzes: Essay Training, Cold War 1, Cold War 2, 5% each; research essay 20%; establish Wikipedia account 5%; complete Wikipedia training 5%; upload complete Wikipedia Project (Group) 15%; Powerpoint (or similar) report on Wikipedia project 5%; Final exam 20%; participation 5%. Students who miss three classes will be penalized one letter grade within this grade item. However, it is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. If you wish to be excused for religious observances, please contact the Instructor at least one week before you will be absent, in order to reschedule the corresponding work.

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Extra Credit is available for all major assignments except the Final

Academic honesty

We assume you understand and adhere to the norms of academic honesty stated in A Student's Guide to Academic Integrity at the University of Oklahoma. We also assume you are honest unless proven otherwise, so if you are not sure about something ask us. We encourage you to work together (and with us) to prepare for class, exams and essays -- on the understanding that the final version is all your own work. 'Plagiarism' used to mean copying out of a book. Electronic media like Wikipedia and blogs pose special problems. While we encourage you to use them as sources of ideas and information, no sentence that you submit as your own work should be identical to any sentence in a book or electronic medium. If we judge that work you submit fails to meet these standards, the following things will happen:
(1) On the first occasion, you will be asked to amend the work and resubmit it to receive a grade.
(2) On the second occasion you will receive a formal admonition, as explained in Rights and Responsibilities under the Academic Misconduct Code, and a grade of zero for the work.
(3) On the third occasion, a complaint of academic misconduct will be filed, as explained in Rights and Responsibilities under the Academic Misconduct Code.

Students with disabilities

Students in this course who have any disability that may prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should contact the Instructor as soon as possible to discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate their educational opportunities. 


In this class you will be expected to take part in discussions, work in small groups, contribute to group projects, study and review in groups settings. The University of Oklahoma is a multicultural and multiethnic community. Your time here is a unique opportunity to engage with people from backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences very different from your own. Remember that these people are just like you — they may not have lived in a multicultural, multi-ethnic community either. The University of Oklahoma expects to provide you with many opportunities to work productively and communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds. By engaging, you will acquire skills that are essential for citizenship in the 21st century.

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