Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre

A cross-discipline collaboration

Introduction - Educating the Nuclear Energy Leaders of Tomorrow

News:  Nuclear Energy Centre for Doctoral Training funded

On the 9th January 2014, David Willets (Minister of State for Universities & Science) announced the Government’s funding of a further 19 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). CNEC members collaborating with Imperial College London and The Open University have secured funding for a joint CDT in Nuclear Energy that will train approximately 60 PhDs in Nuclear Energy over the next 8 years (5 cohorts beginning from 2014 – 2018).  This is a new Nuclear CDT and complements the existing Nuclear CDT led by the University of Manchester, which was also renewed in the current round.  Thus, it represents a significant increase in training capacity for Nuclear PhDs in the UK.

 These studentships include a first year taught MSc in Nuclear Energy hosted at Imperial College that includes a research project to provide a taster of future PhD research. Following successful completion of the MSc, the student will then conduct a three-year research project supervised by academics at Imperial College, the University of Cambridge or the Open University studying a real world problem.  

In the first instance, interested candidates should contact the Cambridge Co-Director Dr Ian Farnan ( or consult the ICO CDT website:

After a long period of run-down of the nuclear industry and even after the melt down at Fukushima in Japan, the case for nuclear energy is successfully being made in many countries around the world. This case is based on the attraction of predictable costs, the need for action on climate change and for reasons of energy security.

In the UK, two groups of utilities are planning to invest collectively at least £50bn over the next 20 years in new reactors which could supply 30% of UK electricity demand by 2030.

Around the world we see other nuclear programmes at varying stages of development with new construction occurring in Finland, France, China, India and Korea. New build has started in the US and many other countries are planning either, to re-start their nuclear build programmes (Czech Republic, Canada, Brazil, Romania etc.), or to start from scratch (UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Vietnam etc).

Nuclear R&D projects are being launched with the major spend on fusion for ITER, and prototype next-generation fission reactors being considered in Europe, the US and the Far East.

The accident at Fukushima in Japan will affect the prospects for nuclear. Some countries, like Germany and Austria, have re-iterated their historic opposition to nuclear energy. However, the nature of the drivers for growth in nuclear means that development will continue. Nuclear is likely to become a multi-billion pound international business within 20 years. It is clear that there will be major demand for skilled and capable engineering and management staff.

In the UK, as in other Western countries, the number of nuclear energy staff has been run down and many of those still in the industry are approaching retirement. The scale and speed of the new-build program will provide a major challenge both for the construction and the subsequent operation of the new reactors. Similarly, other countries will amplify this demand for nuclear business, engineering, construction staff and managers who have a good understanding of the particular needs of the industry.


To be successful, nuclear energy requires high levels of both technical and business competence, together with unremitting attention to safety and continuous process improvement. Cambridge is responding to the prospect of a nuclear renaissance by providing a premium Masters-level degree course in Nuclear Energy. It is run each year by the Department of Engineering and run in conjunction with the Judge Business School (JBS), and the Departments of Physics, Materials Science and Metallurgy, and Earth Sciences.
It will provide:

  • a thorough grounding in the engineering, scientific and safety aspects of nuclear power;
  • a good understanding of nuclear technology policy together with relevant business and policy understanding;
  • an appreciation of the wider policy contexts of electricity generation in the 21st century;
  • a good preparation for PhD research.

Details of the MPhil in Nuclear Energy can be found at:

Latest news about the MPhil can be found at:

PhD vacancies, when they are available within the associated departments, may be found at: