Research course

Nuclear Energy

Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Entry requirements

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

Months of entry


Course content

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, so called ‘generation IV’ reactors or accelerator-driven systems.

The OU has a strong track record in issues relating to nuclear energy technology and policy, and is pleased to be part of a three-university UK research council and industry-funded Centre for Doctoral Training. The ICO-CDT brings together Imperial College London, Cambridge University and The Open University to provide high-quality research and training opportunities. OU research activity in nuclear energy is led from the Engineering and Innovation Department in the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology

Current/recent research projects

The OU has a strong track record in attracting external funding for Nuclear Energy related research. Recent examples 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-fuelled 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 Mathematics, Computing and Technology:

Other potential supervisors exist including in the OU Science Faculty.

Department specialisms

Examples of current ICO-CDT projects include: Post weld heat treatment of nuclear pressure vessels and pipework. A collaboration with Imperial College London and Rolls-Royce plc Near surface residual stresses from manufacturing. A collaboration with Imperial College London and AREVA Stresses developed upon precipitation of a hydride phase in cerium. A collaboration with Imperial College London and AWE Residual stresses in next generation nuclear power plant. A collaboration with Imperial College London Performance of a new stainless steel martensitic alloy filler material for use in weld repairs. A collaboration with the University of Cambridge Physics of water on actinide dioxides. A collaboration with The University of Bristol

Fees and funding

For detailed information on current fees visit: Fees and funding

Qualification and course duration


full time
48 months
part time
72 months

Course contact details

Professor William Nuttall
+44 (0)1908 655113