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Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre

A cross-discipline collaboration

Why Cambridge?

At Cambridge, graduate courses are tough, offering a lot and expecting a lot. With commitment, ability and motivation, graduate students can expect great rewards, exhilarating intellectual satisfaction and a capability much sought after by employers in industry and academia.

The University has a strong nuclear research program coordinated through the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre and it teaches nuclear energy topics to 4th year undergraduates.

The Department of Engineering is one of Europe's largest integrated engineering departments, achieving the highest standards in both research and teaching. Its international reputation attracts the best students, academics, sponsors and partners from around the world. Cambridge Judge Business School is recognised as one of the leading business schools in the world. The course material for teaching the management of technology to engineering and science graduates was established with the support of the Cambridge–MIT Institute.

Teaching - Undergraduates

For more information about Undergraduate opportunities within engineering, please visit

Fourth year students are offered a course entitled: Nuclear Reactor Engineering (4I10).   As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • understand the design and safe operation of nuclear reactors
  • perform approximate calculations of component & system parameters
  • understand how more precise and detailed analyses are performed

Also available to fourth year students is Advanced Fission & Fusion Systems (4I11).  The aims of the course are to:

  • provide an understanding of advanced systems, why they are being pursued, what are their advantages and their difficulties in becoming commercially viable designs.

Teaching - MPhil in Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy covers a broad range of technological and business disciplines. Aspects of nuclear engineering are taught in Engineering and Materials Sciences during the 4th year of the MEng/MSc courses. The aim of the MPhil in Nuclear Energy is to provide both a wider and a deeper understanding of nuclear topics than can be accommodated in the current undergraduate courses, together with a level of business understanding to equip graduate for significant and in due course leading roles in the industry, both in the UK and in other countries.

The course will be taught by Cambridge staff drawn from its Nuclear Research Centre and Cambridge Judge Business School. These will be supplemented by leading practitioners with experience of industry including: Rolls-Royce, TWI, AWE & Atkins - to provide specialist knowledge and give context for the technological and business principles teaching of academic staff.

Scope of the MPhil

One-year intensive Masters with a research project and dissertation, starting in October each year and comprising:

  • Introductory review of nuclear history/Gen I - II and contribution to world energy;
  • Core technology subject modules developed specifically:

–      Reactor Physics – core physics and  shielding, steady-state power and  shapes, depletion control elements and  use of poisons, core kinetics and  system control;

–      Reactor Engineering and Thermal-hydraulics – coolant types, thermal cycles, heat transfer, thermal limits and Reactor systems, their optimisation and operating characteristics including normal operation and how to address main types of fault condition;

–      Materials – fuels and reactor materials (including selection, safety and life issues), radiation behaviour and damage, structural integrity and fracture mechanics, corrosion and environmentally assisted cracking.

–      Fuel Cycle, Waste and Decommissioning – Whole fuel cycle: mining to waste including how nuclear waste is managed, and the principles of decommissioning;

–      Advanced System and Safety – safety philosophies, impact on design, justification approaches, control and reliability, advanced reactor systems including Gen IV reactor and Thorium.

–      Nuclear Policy – energy studies and climate change, economics of energy, nuclear politics, proliferation and physical security.

–      Nuclear Practice - The module consists of a series of lectures by senior external members of the UK nuclear industry and related government bodies, giving their viewpoint and experience of important past events on the current prospects and issues that affect the sector.

–      Computational Reactor Modelling – The module covers the basic theory and methods in computational reactor physics followed by a series of practicums with hands-on experience of using state-of-the-art computer codes used for simulation of nuclear systems.


  • Research project and dissertation undertaken as a full-time activity May to the end of August - where appropriate research topic could be directly related to the interests of the individual's own organisation;
  • Supporting business management courses & seminars, plus a broad range of elective courses;
  • Engagement with industry through projects/dissertation, visits & use of simulators, sponsorship;
  • Find out more at

Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre - Research Programs

  • New Reactor Systems
  • Nuclear Policy and Energy Security
  • Integration with Energy and Energy - related Networks
  • Radiation Damage and New Materials
  • Reactor Waste and Deep Geological Disposal of Waste
  • Supporting Areas of Specialisation: Fluid dynamics and thermodynamics; Electrical machines and systems; Structures; Design for safety critical systems; Sustainability analysis.

Whilst CNEC does not offer any PhD research programmes directly, there are opportunities within the associated departments. The websites for PhD studentships in individual departments are listed:

Nuclear Industry Club

The Nuclear Industry Club comprises a small number of key nuclear energy and engineering companies committed to the development of the industry and who require very capable nuclear engineers, scientists and managers, educated and equipped to contribute and in due course to lead the nuclear industry of the future.

Membership of the 'Industry Club' provides the following benefits:

  • input to the design of the Nuclear Energy MPhil course;
  • input to the research strategy;
  • access to a group of top nuclear graduates at the end of the course and for projects/dissertations;
  • ability to get their technical & business problems/topics studied by MPhil and JBS projects;
  • assured capacity for company sponsored students on the course;
  • access to very high quality academics who deliver the course – in Engineering, Physics, Materials Science & Metallurgy, Earth Sciences and Cambridge Judge Business School;
  • promotion of company profile by association a with top course at a world-class university;

An annual fee is levied for membership of the 'Industry Club'.