Frequently asked questions

If you have a question that isn't answered here then please get in touch and ask.


  • What is the history of Next Generation Nuclear?

The aims of NGN and its predecessor, Nuclear FiRST, were to develop future generations of nuclear research leaders and deliver underpinning (TRL 1-3) research. They did this though a professional training programme tailored to student need; high profile, high impact outreach; and adventurous doctoral research which underpinned future industry challenges.

When completed NGN will comprise 5 cohorts – to date we have recruited up to cohort 4 and we total 64 students; and we envisage that after recruitment of cohort 5 we will have around 90 students of which 34 were supported by the EPSRC. Nuclear FiRST supported 54 students over 5 cohorts and of these > 90% have gone into scientific/technical roles, with more than two thirds of all Nuclear FIRST students entering the nuclear sector.

NGN and its predecessor Nuclear FiRST both began with a 3 month intensive taught programme. This provides a broad introduction to the nuclear sector, which is important because our students come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. It  has also proved to be an excellent way of developing a cohort bond, and this bond is maintained and strengthen through a series of ‘Whole CDT’events. The NGN taught programme uses a mixture of industrialists and academics to provide a holistic understanding of nuclear science and engineering, and prompt students to think across discipline boundaries. The delivery by industrialists provides ‘real-life’ context in both the training and research elements of the programme, and allows access to expertise and facilities which cannot be found in the academic sector. The taught programme is followed by Student-Specific Training, which aims initially to develop specific research and technical skills to support the student’s PhD research and subsequently focuses on professional skills development – this programme is bespoke to each individual student.


  • Why do a PhD with Next Generation Nuclear?

Over many years, research in all aspects of nuclear fission has been neglected in the UK. However, Government policy now requires rejuvenation of this research, to support cleanup of the historical nuclear legacy, geological disposal of radioactive wastes, a new generation of nuclear power stations, and military nuclear applications. Surveys estimate that, over the next 15 years, the civil nuclear industry alone needs 1000 new graduate/PhD recruits per year. As part of our efforts to rebuild high level nuclear skills in the UK, the EPSRC has supported our Next Generation Nuclear Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) which is a follow on from the Nuclear FiRST Doctoral Training Centre.


  • How does CDT training differ from a traditional PhD?

Because nuclear fission research crosses many normal academic disciplines, and because many undergraduate degrees no longer include much material relevant to it, we need to spend some time allowing you to learn about the broader aspects of nuclear fission research. For example, if you have a chemistry degree, it is important that you learn relevant aspects of other topics, such as materials science, engineering and environmental science. We spend a good deal of the first year giving you this experience, as well as explaining the historical and political context of nuclear research.

  • How does it work?

Students will be registered at their home institution, which is the University where the lead project supervisor is based. Students will have visitor status at The University of Manchester and if needed, at other partners.

Students will take part in a taught and training programme during the first year. During years 2-4 students will work on their PhD.

  • Why does it take four years?

Our CDT PhD takes four years because we want to give you the opportunity to learn about many other aspects of nuclear fission research. This takes time, which is why we have a four year programme. However, the preparatory year also gives you a head start, so you should be able to make progress rapidly with your PhD, and it should be possible to complete a CDT PhD within the four year period. We have therefore allowed a full four years´ funding for each student. We also have funding to cover the relatively high running and travel costs of our CDT studentships.

  • What will I get out of it?

The qualification you will receive at the end of a successful four-year CDT programme is a PhD; this will be awarded from your home institution.

  • What are my career options after my PhD?

Completing a PhD will equip you with a wide range of technical and transferrable skills that you will be able to apply either in academia, industry, within governmental or international organisations.

The nuclear industry comprises a diverse range of positions in, for example, Research, Engineering, Process and Plant Support, Radiation Protection andRegulation etc. Over 90% of our nuclear PhD graduates have followed careers in the nuclear sector.

  • Who can apply?

We welcome applications from graduates who have, or expect to obtain, a good degree (first class or upper second) in a relevant discipline, such as physical, earth or environmental sciences, or an appropriate branch of engineering. If in doubt, please ask us.

This year we have a number of 4 year fully funded EPSRC studentships available. To be eligible for a studentship, you must either be a U.K. citizen or a European Union national who has been resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to starting the course.

We welcome applications from graduates who have, or expect to obtain, a good degree (first class or upper second).
To be eligible for a studentship, you must either be a UK citizen or an EU national who has been resident in the U.K. for at least three years prior to starting the course.

We welcome applications from good students of all nationalities, but we are only able to offer financial support to students that fulfil the above criteria. NGN welcomes applications from international students, however this particular programme is funded by the Research Council which means we have limited funding opportunities for overseas students.

  • What are the language requirements?

International applicants will need to demonstrate competency in the English language. Applicants who do not already possess a recognised English Language qualification will need to take a recognised test such as IELTS or TOEFL and attain a minimum overall score of IELTS 7(with no sub test less than 6.5), TOEFL 600 usually with 5.5 in the TWE, TOEFL (IBT) 100 or above(with no sub-test less than 25)

Other English Language qualifications / tests can be considered including those offered by the Manchester University's English Language Teaching Centre.



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