Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Nuclear Power Reactors PHYS5038

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

Nuclear Power Reactors make a substantial contribution to electricity generation in the UK and throughout the world. This course will discuss the physical principles behind power reactors, their properties and operation. It will review designs for future reactors and explore related issues of economics, sustainability, carbon budgets, public acceptance, safety, nuclear waste treatment and disposal.


Typically 2 lectures per week

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





Description of Summative Assessment: 


Assessment: Unseen examination.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

To understand the principles of energy generation from nuclear reactions.

To evaluate the properties of the current generation of nuclear power reactors.

To review designs for new types of reactor.

To explore related issues of risk assessment, public acceptance and waste disposal.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


Explain the role of nuclear power reactors in meeting the needs for electricity generation in the UK and worldwide.

Explain the principles of operation of nuclear power reactors, for a range of current and future designs.

Debate the issues of the operational safety of reactors, energy policy and waste management.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.