Political and Crisis Simulations

The Third Nuclear Age Project uses simulations to explore the unexpected impacts of strategic non-nuclear weapons on international politics.

Whether in a classic seminar style or digitally-enabled, political simulations can model treaty negotiations, security crises, and beyond. These kinds of simulation aim to produce realistic models of the political predicaments of the 21st century, all the while allowing participants to make meaningful and consequential choices.

As global nuclear politics change, simulations help to sharpen what questions we ask and identify gaps in existing thinking. For example:

  • What are the pathways to escalation when new technologies and rivalries characterise nuclear competition?
  • How do different governments view the value and costs of arms control and disarmament measures, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?

In addition to shaping our research questions, the Third Nuclear Age Project seeks to build capacity for the next generation of political simulation designers. We support the goals of the Derby House Principles, aimed at bolstering the diversity of the professional political simulation community.


The Third Nuclear Age Project uses wargames to “think about the unthinkable” – scenarios where war between the nuclear and great powers has broken out.

Wargames involve simulating armed conflict. The most prominent challenges within nuclear politics today relate to weapons technologies. Wargames provide a structured way to assess how different strategic non-nuclear weapons might be used, and how their use in different geographical and political contexts produces varying consequences. 

Wargames do not always need to look into the future to tell us something important. Revisiting the past with these methods – what some practitioners call “paper time machines” – allow us to put ourselves in the shoes of20th century decision makers. By doing this, we can potentially see our shared nuclear past in new ways.