SCND homepage
Lesson plan on Trident

This is a suggested lesson plan for those teachers wishing to relate the discussion of nuclear weapons to a topic specific to the UK, in particular to Scotland.

Learning Objectives
Developing awareness of the nature of change and continuity (see Annex A, 11) and of an issue of national and local importance.

Developing skills of enquiry and communication: express, justify and defend a personal opinion about a topical political/moral issue (S3 - S6)

As indicated above, this lesson is designed for S3 - S6. It could be adapted for S1/S2 by simplifying the discussion and activities sheet (e.g. omitting the quotations).

Show the Trident poster from the Then and Now set, perhaps with the other posters directly relating to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Give a brief outline of the information included in the Teachers' Notes for this lesson.

Main Part
Divide into groups; each group has the arguments for and against Trident and the activity sheet, with perhaps further information on Trident taken from the SCND web-site. Each group considers the arguments for and against Trident and maintaining a nuclear deterrent in the UK and comes to a group decision on whether Trident should be scrapped or maintained/replaced. Alternatively groups could take different positions from the start (government position, anti-nuclear campaigning position, position of local residents close to Trident base) and prepare their arguments in advance through information from web-sites etc.

Bring the class together so that each group can present its viewpoint.

Then and Now posters
Arguments for and against Trident (in pack)
Activity sheet

Other resources could include:
Access to the SCND website or printouts
Information leaflets

Cross curricular links

Modern Studies, RME


Arguments for and Against Trident

Below are some of the arguments for and against Trident. The leaflets 'Seven Deadly Myths' and 'Britain's Weapon of Mass Destruction' give useful information.


Every country is entitled to defend itself

Britain is vulnerable to attack from other countries possessing nuclear weapons, including 'rogue' states which may be developing nuclear weapons in secret.

The presence of nuclear submarines in Britain's coastal waters, and at troublespots abroad, is an effective deterrent to such states.

The establishment of the nuclear submarine base at Faslane has created local jobs and boosted the economy of the area. If it were withdrawn, this growth would be reversed


The presence of nuclear weapons in Britain actually makes us more vulnerable to terrorist attack. The chances of attack from other states seem much less likely than terrorist attacks.

If Trident is replaced with more advanced nuclear weapons this will effectively mean a proliferation of nuclear weapons and may encourage other countries to develop nuclear weapons of their own

Trident is hugely expensive, costing up to £1.5 billion pounds every year. If the intention is never to use it, this is a waste of money. If it were ever to be used, the cost in loss of life and environmental damage would be incalculable.

Even if Trident's weapons are never used, they remain a potential safety hazard while in service and even more of a hazard when they come to be disposed of.


Activity Worksheet - The Rights and Wrongs of Trident

In groups consider the following statements:

For Trident
'The USA is the leading democratic state in the world. The people of USA look to their government to protect them and take an active part in maintaining world peace'. The UK is also a leading democratic state whose people look to their government to protect them.

Do you agree?

Make a list of all the reasons for Trident and for replacing it with a more advanced nuclear weapons system.

Against Trident
'Any country that is in a position where it can attack, at will, any other country without fear of retaliation, is a bully. Countries who feel bullied will develop weapons to strengthen themselves.'

Do you agree?

Make a list of all the reasons against Trident and against replacing it with a more advanced nuclear weapons system


Does Britain need a nuclear deterrent?

- discuss the economic and military implications as well as the moral issues.









created 5 May 2005


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