ICO CDT students take part in a number of professional development activities and cohort-building trips during their time as a PhD student. Below you can get an overview of what these are. The NEF CDT will have a broadly similar program of activities and trips that you can read here

Activities and Trips


Public Engagement Training

Public Engagement Training gives students the tools to engage with the public when talking about their research. This can be an essential but easily overlooked part of carrying out research, as the need for explaining and engaging with the public is only growing it is very helpful to get training on this. Students get a chance to try out what they've learnt when they run stalls at the Cambridge Science Festival and Great Exhibition Road Festival at Imperial. 

Entrepreneurship Training

Entrepreneurship Training gives students an insight into the business applications of their PhD program, covering both entrepreneurship in terms of start ups and how this can be applied from within companies to further your career. Over several days of talks, activities, and presentations, students hear how others have managed to turn their research into commercially viable businesses. With plenty of opportunities to hear expert advice and develop then pitch their own products, this course can broaden skillsets and potentially open up a new avenue that many will not have heard much about. 

Student Conference

The Student Conference is organised and run by the students themselves. These have been well attended and highly rated. The students present on subjects they feel are important in the nuclear sector and invite speakers from industry and academia to attend give talks. In 2019 the conference was on the Sustainability of Nuclear Energy.



The Nuclear Research Institute in Romania is an opportunity to experience an operational nuclear research facility and witness and undertake various experiments covering nuclear enerfy generation. The tour includes TRIGA Research Reactor, Hot Cell Lab, and the Spectroscopy Lab. With plenty of demonstrations and hands-on experiments this is always considered a highlight for students.

Sizewell B

Sizewell B is a chance to see how an active commerical nuclear power station works, with a guided tour of the UK's only PWR reactor plant. Highlights include: a walk inside the enromous turbine room, seeing the intake point where over 3 million of litres of seawater are taken in every minute, and hearing from EDF staff firsthand about the impressive design and safety features of the site. 


SCK-CEN in Mol, Belgium shows students around a number of sites; two research reactors, one for irradiation and another used for optimising decommissioning techniques; the Laboratory for High and Medium level activity, and the HADES underground laboratory. This gives an inside look at a number of facilities on the research side, which most people would not otherwise be aware of. In particular the HADES underground laboratory, at 225 m deep, is a memorable visit. 

Sellafield and Springfield 

The visits to Sellafield and Springfield are combined to maximise the time spent in the North West of England. On these visits students get a look at decommissioning and fuel manufacturing, essential parts of the nuclear power industry. This tour is particularly interesting as students see how organisations tackle the challenges of the nuclear industry, operating on far bigger time scales than other commercial sectors.


The US trip involves visits to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho. These are two of the US Department of Energy's network of laboratories and both carry out groundbreaking research in the fields of materials, energy and nuclear power. These give the students a look at a range of projects using cutting edge research that they would not normally get a chance to see. Overall this is a highly rated trip, made possible by partnerships with research institutions in the US.