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Nuclear energy

Research Nuclear Energy with The Open University

Nuclear power provides approximately 18 per cent of British electricity. As a low-carbon option, nuclear energy is supported for expansion by British government policy despite the fact that it remains a contentious choice. There are numerous technical and policy issues facing nuclear energy, including the building of new power stations, extending the life of the current fleet and addressing issues relating to wastes and safety. OU research is involved in all such questions as well as considering advanced future concepts – such as nuclear fusion, called ‘generation IV’ fission reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs).

The OU has a strong track record in issues relating to nuclear energy science, technology and policy including strong collaboration with Imperial College London and Cambridge University. At the time of the preparation of this prospectus the OU and its partners are awaiting the results of a bid to secure funding for a new Centre for Doctoral Training in this area. For PhD starts in the years 2014-2018 the OU was part of the Imperial-Cambridge-Open CDT, the ICO-CDT.

Qualifications available:

PhD. – for further information as to the opportunities available please see the contact details below.


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum UK 2:1 first degree in a relevant technical discipline (or equivalent).

Current/recent research projects

The OU has a strong track record in attracting external funding for Nuclear Energy related research from public and private sources. Recent examples of publicly funded activity include:

  • JOINT: an Indo-UK collaboration in joining technologies (EPSRC Ref: EP/I01215X/1)
  • Performance and reliability of metallic materials for nuclear fission power generation (EPSRC Ref: EP/I003282/1)
  • Complex contour method (EPSRC Ref: EP/M018849/1)
  • Management of nuclear risk issues: environmental, financial and safety (NREFS) (EPSRC Ref: EP/K007580/1)
  • Sustainability and proliferation resistance assessment of open cycle thorium-fueled nuclear energy (EPSRC Ref: EP/I018425/1)

In addition to the engineering opportunities listed above, opportunities exist for technology policy research.

Potential supervisors

From the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics:

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Professor William Nuttall
+44 (0)1908 655113

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.