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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Nuclear Energy is no longer accepting new applications.

The MPhil programme in Nuclear Energy, offered by the Department of Engineering in collaboration with the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre is a one-year full-time nuclear technology master's programme for engineers and scientists who wish to make a difference to the problems of climate change and energy security by developing nuclear power generation.

This programme was created in response to the emerging nuclear renaissance in the UK and around the world. In order to realise significant nuclear ambitions, a growing workforce of nuclear-skilled people is required. As well as a thorough education in technical aspects of nuclear energy, the course includes a grounding in the wider policy environment in which nuclear energy sits. It is also a highly flexible course, so that students may tailor the degree to suit their backgrounds, needs and preferences. Some students choose to focus entirely on engineering, while others choose options with greater weight on policy, economics, management or finance. This flexibility reflects the wide and varied needs of the nuclear industry.

The course is designed to cater not only to students wishing to enter the nuclear and energy industries, but also to those considering career paths in areas such as nuclear proliferation prevention, radiological protection, nuclear governance, nuclear medicine and health physics. While the prime focus of the course is to equip students for roles in industry, there is also a substantial research element in the course which would prepare students for a PhD programme.

Learning Outcomes

The course will equip its graduates with a wide range of skills and knowledge, enabling them to fully engage in the nuclear sector.

Graduates will have developed a knowledge and understanding of nuclear technology. They will have received a thorough technical grounding in nuclear power generation, beginning with fundamental concepts and extending to a range of specialist topics. They will also be equipped with an appreciation of the wider social, political and environmental contexts of electricity generation in the 21st century, with a firm grounding in considering issues such as climate change, energy policy and public acceptability.

The programme will cultivate intellectual skills allowing graduates to engage with the technical, business and policy issues that the development and deployment of nuclear energy poses. These include skills in the modelling, simulation and experimental evaluation of nuclear energy systems; critically evaluating and finding alternative solutions to technical problems; applying professional engineering judgment to balance technological, environmental, ethical, economic and public policy considerations; understanding business practice in the areas of technology management, transfer and exploitation.

The programme will also develop transferable skills enabling graduates to work and progress in teams within and across the nuclear sector, including the management of time and information, the preparation of formal reports in a variety of styles, the deployment of critical reasoning and independent thinking.

Finally, graduates will gain research experience, having planned, executed, and evaluated an original investigative piece of work through a major dissertation.

Students will be able to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and understanding, skills and other attributes as follows: 

Knowledge and understanding

  1. Fundamental concepts and trends in nuclear energy power generation.
  2. Understand the underlying technology background to nuclear energy power generation systems including reactor technology, the interaction of radiation with matter, nuclear safety and the nuclear fuel cycle.
  3. Understand the framework and wider issues relating to nuclear energy power generation (including issues such as climate change, energy policy, public acceptability).
  4. A broad knowledge of nuclear systems in the areas of e.g. reactor technology, waste and decommissioning, materials, safety assessment, technology policy etc.
  5. Familiarity with a range of specialist topics, e.g. radiation detection and protection, nuclear safety, radioactive waste management, the nuclear fuel cycle and proliferation, and future nuclear energy systems. 
  6. Good research practice based on university research programmes and the ability to report research outcomes in an appropriate way for the intended audience.
  7. Understanding business practice and tools in the areas of technology management, technology transfer and exploitation with particular emphasis on the nuclear power industry.

Intellectual skills

  1. Be able to apply generic skills in modelling, simulating and experimentally evaluating nuclear energy systems.
  2. Be capable of critically evaluating technical problems and examining alternative approaches and technologies to solve them.
  3. Take an holistic approach in solving problems and designing systems by applying professional engineering judgment to balance technological, environmental, ethical, economic and public policy considerations.
  4. Be able to act as a change-agent within an organisation, manage change effectively and respond to changing demands.
  5. Be able to deal with complex research issues both systematically and creatively, make informed judgements in the absence of complete data and in unpredictable situations.
  6. Be able to understand commercial exploitation routes for nuclear energy based technologies and evaluate options for technology transfer and/or implementation.
  7. Plan, execute and critically evaluate an original and individual investigative piece of work through a major dissertation.

Transferable skills

  1. Prepare formal reports in a range of styles (e.g. journal paper, conference paper, oral and poster presentations, literature review, an extended project report).
  2. Reason critically, think creatively and demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and thought and communicate ideas.
  3. Manage time and work to deadlines, work effectively both independently and in groups, and assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others.
  4. Ability to find information and learn effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development and in a wider context throughout their career.


Students wishing to apply for continuation to the PhD would normally be expected to attain an overall mark of 70%.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Engineering

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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