The Nuclear Energy Futures CDT is an EPSRC-sponsored Centre for Doctoral Training comprised of Bangor University, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and The Open University.

Practical details of the programme are below. To see them, please click on the '+' next to the relevant heading.

Find out more about why we are needed, or read through our current PhD projects.

Programme details

Training and research

Our vision is to host a multidisciplinary CDT that will train future leaders in the nuclear sector.

To this end, the CDT offers four-year PhDs integrated with seven modules that cover almost all aspects of nuclear engineering. In parallel with PhD research over the first two years, the modules intend to endow graduates with (i) the regulatory understanding and scientific and technical knowledge required of twenty-first century nuclear professionals; (ii) a clear and comprehensive view of the entire nuclear fuel cycle; and (iii) skills and behaviours to work collaboratively and foster innovation.

The modules will employ a cutting-edge mixture of teaching and learning methods and exploit the expertise of each partner university. The delivery will combine three residential courses with four blended learning modules combining human-moderated distance learning and days of face-to-face contact.

The modules are:

  • Introduction to Nuclear Energy (residential)
  • Nuclear Safety Management (distance learning)
  • Reactor Design and Operation (distance learningl)
  • Materials for Reactor Design (residential)
  • Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Waste & Decomissioning (residential)
  • Policy and Nuclear Regulation (distance learning)
  • Innovation in Nuclear Technology (distance learning)

Satisfactory completion of the first five ('core') modules is required to continue to receive EPSRC funding. Module performance is assessed through a mix of individual and group assignments, such as essays and presentations, and thereby demonstrate students' sincere engagement with the teaching programme. 

While the training programme is spread across the five institutions, at the end of the four years, subject to successful completion, you will be awarded a PhD from the institution where you are registered (i.e. where your research project is based).

Cohort-building activities

When you join the CDT, you will be placed within a specific cohort. Your cohort will be comprised of other PhD students doing different projects but following the training and research programme outlined above. The cohort-based model is designed to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking and provide a support structure. Your cohort will also appoint a representative; your rep will voice concerns, ask questions and make suggestions at the CDT's management meetings on behalf of the cohort.

The CDT thus promotes cohort-building activities. Their aim is not only to bring your cohort together regularly, but underpin the training and research programme and promote a global outlook.

The cohort-building activities are as follows:

  • Romanian Institute for Nuclear Research (Pitesti, Romania, Year 1)
  • ITER and Jules Horowitz Reactor (Cadarache, France, Y2)
  • UK nuclear facilities (UK, Y3)
  • Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratories (US, Y4)

Please note that while the CDT aims to provide students with the above visits and that each cohort's experience should be approximately the same, the risk of changes in the international environment means that the schedule may be subject to alteration. In such circumstances the CDT will find an alternative UK visit.

There will also be opportunities to interact with other CDT cohorts, particularly those in the energy sphere.

The costs of running cohort activities is met by the CDT.  Attendance is compulsory barring exceptional circumstances. 

Professional development

In order to translate the technical and scientific knowledge gained from the training and research programme into innovation and impact, the Nuclear Energy Futures CDT offers a suite of fully-funded professional development activities. Like the cohort-building activities, professional development is an critical aspect of the CDT's mission, and participation in these activities is compulsory. 

The professional development opportunities are:

  • Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) - a bespoke e-learning course ran by Prof Laurence Williams OBE FREng, covering nuclear-specific issues, such as Non-Proliferation, as well as general issues like ethics and data security (Y2);
  • Public engagement - training provided by experts in public engagement so you talk effectively to various audiences about your research, culminating in running a stand with your peers at Cambridge and Great Exhibition Road festivals (Y2);
  • Grand Challenge - a CDT industry partner will set a challenge facing their business, and your cohort will work together over 2-3 months and present possible solutions in the form of a business case and Dragon's Den-style pitch (Y3)

Entry requirements

At least an upper second (2.1) degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject (e.g. Materials, Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or Earth Sciences). We will also consider any professional experience in the nuclear industry or relevant sector.

Please note also that the above are minimum entry requirements for admission to the CDT. Project supervisors may require more specific qualifications and backgrounds to suit the skills and experience needed by the PhD research project. These should be listed on the project descriptions - if not please enquire with the supervisor.

Due to the sensitive nature of some of the research being carried out, some projects may have nationality restrictions. These should be listed on the project descriptions - if not please enquire with the supervisor. 

Please note that depending on which university you undertake your PhD the entry and English language requirements may differ slightly. If you require any further information please enquire with your appropriate administrative contact.

Funding eligibility

Home & right to remain the UK students

Home students  are eligible for a 4-year fully-funded EPSRC studentship. This includes Home-level fees, a UKRI minimum stipend, and a research, travel and consumables budget. Studentships from this funding stream require you to either be a UK citizen or have right to remain in the UK. 

International students

EPSRC rules allow us each year to recruit up to 30 per cent of our students from international backgrounds and provide them with 4-year fully-funded EPSRC studentships.  This includes a UKRI minimum stipend and a research and consumables budget - however we are only able to pay fees at the Home level.

International students who are not self-funded should consider before applying how they can top-up their EPSRC studentship to meet the international fees liability. Top-up' sources can include  independent scholarships or awards (e.g. government) or personal funds. Please note there is strong competition for this eligibility - if you wish to be considered it is advisable to apply as early as possible.

International students that have funding to cover the difference between Home and International rates are able to apply for all available projects, provided they meet the minimum CDT entry requirements, the project supervisor(s) requirements, and if applicable meet/not require security clearance to undertake research.

International students that do not have funding to cover the difference between Home and International fees are only able to apply for research projects at The Open University. The Open University can consider international fee waivers, but the rest of the partner universities cannot.

Self-funded international students

Self-funded international students are exempt from the above 30 per cent allocation. Self-funded students are also not bound by the project choices and are invited to create a research project with an academic at any of the partner universities.

For further information please read UKRI's document on international funding eligibility.

Please contact the Project Manager if you need further information or to discuss options.

Undergraduate placement scheme

Centres for Doctoral Training are only funded for a limited number of years. As we enter our final year of recruitment, this unfortunately means that we are no longer running our summer undergraduate placement scheme.

However please feel free to read testimonials from our previous undergraduate placement students.

Flexible learning

Centres for Doctoral Training are only funded for a limited number of years. As October 2023 will be the last intake, this unfortunately means that part-time study is unavailable this year. This is because we cannot guarantee the availability of teaching and cohort activities outside the full-time study schedule for October 2023 entry.

In the context of full-time study, the CDT is still committed to facilitating flexible learning to all candidates from October 2023 - for example working from home, or a flexible schedule to undertake research. If you are invited to interview you are encouraged to raise your requirements with the interview panel. 


Making an application

You can learn more about the admissions process by heading to the 'How to Apply' page.