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    2022 start September 

    Nuclear Science and Technology

    Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    This course is run jointly with the members of the Nuclear Technology Education Consortium (NTEC). Learn from world-leading academics in the important area of nuclear waste immobilisation, decommissioning and clean-up.
    Image of postgraduate materials science and engineering student using equipment with mask

    Course description

    This course is run in partnership with fellow members of the Nuclear Technology Education Consortium (Sheffield is one of the lead partners, along with Manchester and Liverpool) and gives you access to more than 90 per cent of the UK’s academic expertise in nuclear waste immobilisation, decommissioning and clean-up. 

    You’ll be based in the department’s world-leading NucleUS Immobilisation Science Laboratory, and will take eight modules on the nuclear fuel cycle. Topics include Decomissioning, Nuclear Technology and Environment and Safety. Each module includes a week at one of our partner universities.

    Some modules require overseas travel.


    Accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), The Energy Institute (EI), The Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining (IoM3) and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Example modules include:

    Nuclear Waste Immobilisation and Disposal

    This module considers fundamentals of nuclear waste management. A range of topics will be considered including contaminants and radiotoxicity, NORM, background radiation, risks, regulations, classification, origin and characteristics, short-lived and long-lived radionuclides, principles of waste management, characterisation, pre-treatment, thermochemical technologies, immobilisation by cements, bitumen and glass, vitrification technology, Joule heated ceramic and cold crucible induction melters, metal matrices, immobilising ceramics, glass ceramics and glass composite materials, self-sustaining immobilisation, performance of cementitious, bituminous, vitreous and metallic waste forms, radiation effects in glasses and ceramics, partitioning and transmutation, storage and disposal, safety assessment.

    15 credits
    Nuclear Fuel Cycle

    To introduce and develop subject knowledge and theoretical, conceptual and analytical skills in the nuclear fuel cycle, which encompasses mining, fuel manufacture, reprocessing, storage and recycling or disposal.

    On completion, students should be able to:

    Explain the processes involved in the front- and back-ends of the once through fuel cycle
    Critically review the advantages/disadvantages of fuel reprocessing with spent fuel management
    Critically discuss the waste arising from each stage of the nuclear fuel including segregation and disposal.
    Explore the challenges of emerging, competitive energy forms such as MOX, fast reactors and nuclear fusion.

    15 credits
    Reactor Physics, Criticality & Design

    Nuclear reactors now account for a significant portion of the electrical power generated world-wide. At the same time, the past few decades have seen an ever-increasing number of industrial, medical, military, and research applications for nuclear reactors. Reactor physics is the core discipline of nuclear engineering and deals with the physical processes in reactors which are fundamental to the understanding of both operational and safety aspects of nuclear reactors. This module provides a historical background to reactor development, considers the range of possible designs, and explains the underlying nuclear physics principles and models that underpin an understanding of nuclear reactor operations.

    On completion, students should be able to:

    Compare and contrast the range of nuclear reactor designs, reactor codes, and transport/diffusion theory models used in the industry today.
    Explain the physical principles which govern criticality, radioactive decay, reactor physics and kinetics, reactor system layout, and underlying nuclear processes which form the basis of how reactors work, run and are modeled in codes.
    Derive expressions for criticality formulae, diffusion and transport equations for a variety of given situations and layouts.
    Understand the importance of cross-sections, bucklings, delayed neutrons, six factor formula variables, the function of different parts of a nuclear reactor, and the crucial role played by neutronics in criticality and in the response of a multiplying system.
    Know some background connected to the historical, environmental, and socio-political aspects of the nuclear industry, and issues related to later decommissioning.
    Appreciate the need for knowledge of risk assessment, control, and safety for a reactor, and know about some of the consequences and issues connected with historical accidents.

    15 credits
    Radiation Shielding

    This module gives an introduction to radiation shielding merging practical problems with industry standard transport codes in order to give a good understanding of the requirements for radiation shielding.

    The aims of this module are:

    To introduce the subject of radiation shielding and illustrate solutions to the particle transport equation in the context of Monte Carlo and deterministic transport codes. Simple shielding methods will be compared with sophisticated complex calculations in order to familiarise students with the essential concepts. As well as the core material, the course has four external lecturers who are experts in their respective fields. The use of Monte Carlo and Deterministic Codes will be presented in the context of industry needs and requirements. Shielding applications and the shielding design process will be discussed. Intensive training into the use of the Monte Carlo code MCNP will be provided.

    On completion, students should have obtained:

    Demonstrate an understanding of the Particle Transport equation and the transport codes and methodologies used to solve it.
    Understand and be able to evaluate a shielding scenario using simple shielding methods.
    Demonstrate an understanding of the Monte Carlo and Deterministic methods and they are applied to radiation shielding calculations.
    Understand the systematic process that must be followed in order to design shielding to adequately protect those working with ionising radiation.
    Have an understanding of how the range of shielding solutions is consistent with common principles of radiation physics and radiological protection.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Upcoming open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


    Working alongside students and staff from across the globe, you’ll tackle real-world projects, and attend lectures, seminars and laboratory classes.


    You’ll be assessed by formal examinations, coursework assignments and a dissertation.

    Entry requirements

    A 2:2 honours degree in materials, a physical science (chemistry or physics) or a related engineering subject.

    Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Scholarships of up to £3000 are available on the basis of academic excellence and Access and Participation criteria. UK students only. 


    You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 5941

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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