Tom Vaughan

Tom Vaughan

Dr, BSc University of Bristol, MA Aberystwyth University, PhD Aberystwyth University, PGCTHE Aberystwyth University


Research activity per year

Personal profile


BSc (Hons) Politics, University of Bristol
MA Critical International Politics, Aberystwyth University


General Research Interests

  • Nuclear politics and world nuclear order, nuclear weapons, technopolitics, infrastructure, South Africa, apartheid, political transitions, colonialism and empire


Funding Awards

  • ESRC +3 Studentship, Wales DTP
  • David Davies Masters Scholarship, Aberystwyth University



Aberystwyth University

  • 2017/2018 IP10320, War, Strategy, and Intelligence
  • 2018/2019 IP20320, War, Politics, and Strategy

Research interests

My research addresses the technopolitics of nuclear weapons and infrastructure in South Africa, during and after apartheid, and the implications of nuclear technology for post-apartheid ‘transition’, domestic South African politics, and the international nuclear order at large. Via an interdisciplinary research philosophy, I propose a dialogical relationship between assumed ‘global’ and ‘local’ levels of political activity in nuclear politics, aiming to transcend the scholarly divide between accounts of ‘international’ nuclear politics on one hand, and ‘the social life of the bomb’ on the other.General research interests: Nuclear politics and world nuclear order, nuclear weapons, technopolitics, infrastructure, South Africa, apartheid, political transitions, colonialism and empire

Research interests

Tom is interested in critical nuclear politics, and his current research explores the imagination and construction of alternative nuclear futures. He is interested in how particular visions of the nuclear (and non-nuclear) future have been created historically while others have been foreclosed, and also in the many ways in which disciplinary IR and strategic studies struggle to imagine the (nuclear) future. He is developing a postdoctoral research agenda to examine how these different imaginaries of the nuclear future can be built, and how far they can accommodate multilateral nuclear disarmament.


Tom Vaughan (2024) ‘Post-nuclear worldmaking and counter-hegemony: against catastrophic failures of imagination’, European Journal of International Security, DOI: 10.1017/eis.2024.4

Benoit Pelopidas, Hebatalla Taha & Tom Vaughan (2024) ‘How dawn turned into dusk: Scoping and closing possible nuclear futures after the Cold War’, Journal of Strategic Studies, DOI: 10.1080/01402390.2023.2290441 


Tom joined the Department as Lecturer in Strategy and Intelligence in August 2022 from the University of Exeter, where he was an Associate Lecturer in Politics and International Relations. He was awarded his PhD from the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth in 2022 for his thesis on South Africa and the global nuclear order. Tom researches the politics of nuclear weapons and power, with particular focuses on nuclear politics on the African continent, and global visions of the (post-)nuclear future. His written work has appeared in internationally-renowned academic journals as well as popular news and policy publications. 

Tom has extensive teaching experience in several subjects including IR theory, security studies, warfare and strategy, intelligence and propaganda, and qualitative social science methods. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Tom served as Chair of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Postgraduate Network for two years. He is currently Deputy Director of Recruitment and Admissions and MA Recruitment Officer for the Department of International Politics. He co-convenes the David Davies Memorial Institute's Nuclear Research Programme.


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