cambs festival

The Nuclear Energy Futures CDT is an EPSRC-sponsored Centre for Doctoral Training lead by Imperial College London and includes Cambridge University, University of Bristol, The Open University and Bangor 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 for an internationally competitive and diverse nuclear sector.

To this end, the CDT offers four-year PhDs integrated with seven courses, as well as optional modules depending on the research being undertaken. 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 (residential)
  • Materials for Reactor Design (residential)
  • Policy and Nuclear Regulation (distance learning)
  • Innovation in Nuclear Technology (distance learning)

Satisfactory completion of all modules is required to continue to receive EPSRC funding.

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)
  • SCK-CEN (Mol, Belgium, Y2)
  • Springfields and Sellafield (UK, Y3)
  • Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratories (US Y4)

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.  Students are expected to attend these activities.

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 funded professional development activities. Like the cohort-building activities, professional development is an critical aspect of the CDT's mission, and students are expected to participate in each professional development activity.

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;
  • 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 the Imperial and Cambridge Science Festivals;
  • Entrepreneurship - a glimpse into what it takes to be an entrepreneur, should your research generate any opportunities for commercialisation;
  • Student Conference - an opportunity with your cohort to organise a conference: the indispensible setting for the professional exchange of scientific ideas;
  • Grand Challenge - a CDT industry partner will set a challenge facing their business, and your cohort will work together over 6-8 weeks and present possible solutions in the form of a research proposal

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.

For international qualifications equivalences, please visit: Postgraduate Academic Requirements - Country Index

For English Language requirements, please visit: English Language Requirement and accepted qualifications

Funding eligibility

Home/EU students

There are many  4-year fully-funded EPSRC studentships available. This includes fees, a UKRI stipend, and a research and consumables budget. Studentships from this funding stream require you to either be a UK citizen or a European Union national who has been resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to your CDT studentship.

International students

Funding is unavailable to international students for this programme. International students may apply only if they are self-funded or have a scholarship from a different source.

Flexible learning

The UK Government's recent Nuclear Sector Deal challenged the nuclear industry to increase its proportion of women workers to 40 per cent by 2030. In addition to assisting those who want to advance/change their careers but still need to work, the Nuclear Energy CDT will contribute to this goal by providing facilities for flexible learning.

If work, family or caring commitments mean you would like to consider a part-time PhD or other forms of flexible learning, please indicate this on the appropriate field in the application form.

Making an application

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