PhD and MSc opportunities

PhD studentDepending on resources, we aim every year to have new PhD and MSc projects with several UK universities addressing plasma physics, materials science and fusion engineering associated with tokamaks, providing a range of exciting research opportunities.

The projects range from the theoretical, through computational modelling, to experimental studies. Most students are based at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, while some are based at their university. All have both a Culham and a university supervisor.

Typically starting each October, we run a broad range of PhD and MSc projects with about eight different university departments. Please check this page for updates on opportunities.


Fusion PhD and MSc Open Day, 14 December 2018, Culham Science Centre

Join us to see how you can apply your knowledge to work towards clean and sustainable energy for future generations.

Come along to the PhD and MSc Open Day at Culham to:

  • find out more about postgraduate opportunities in fusion and related research
  • take a tour of the fusion facilities
  • network with academics and current students from a range of universities and from the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training
  • attend talks to learn about the different areas of research on offer


To register for the event please go to

New nano-indentation test methods for safer nuclear structural health monitoring

Fully funded PhD project (3-5 years) with Coventry University Centre for Future Transport and Cities

Project description

This fully funded project will develop new nano-mechanical testing methods for condition monitoring and life extension of nuclear plant that will improve the safety of sample transport and testing by radically reducing the volume of radioactive material tested and associated radioactive waste. Smaller samples will enable a step-increase in the number and/or frequency of testing of surveillance samples, enabling better risk assessment, modelling, and safer condition monitoring of nuclear energy generation plant life extension. The capability of the new methods will be demonstrated in a case study of Magnox reactor ex-surveillance samples provided by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). Whilst the first impact of this project is expected to be improved/safer condition monitoring in the nuclear sector, the test methods developed are applicable to a wider range of industrial sectors including Oil and Gas pipelines, and vessels in the marine/transport sector.

The project will benefit from close collaboration between Coventry University and UKAEA, where the Materials Research Facility (MRF) has been established to analyse material properties in support of both fission and fusion research. The student is expected to spend a substantial amount of time at MRF with access to world-class facilities, supported by professional training and expert supervision.

This PhD project is fully funded by the Lloyd's Register Foundation International Consortium of Nanotechnologies (ICON). The student will benefit from the ICON international network. This project also provides an exciting collaboration between prestigious industrial collaborator (UKAEA) and academia (Coventry University), fully funded with a stipend starting at £16,500.00 pa. The studentship will also cover the cost to work at Materials Research Facility (MRF) in UKAEA, to attend international conferences and other training opportunities.

Candidate specification

Entry criteria for applicants to PHD:

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.


  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years 
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

CCFE/UKAEA and Coventry University are looking for an exceptional candidate who is highly motivated, persistent and confident in pursuing pioneering solutions. The successful recipient of the grant will be excited about exploring the topic beyond current conventions and to challenge both industry and academia with fresh thinking. They will accept to closely work with UKAEA in their Materials Research Facility as well as using all the opportunities and facilities of the university.

  • An experimentalist, preferably with some experience of equipment or instrumentation development
  • Degree level understanding of materials science, especially the structure and strength of materials
  • Basic computer coding and/or modelling/simulation skills



Apply online

Submitting full supporting documentation, and covering letter, plus a 2000-word proposal addressing the research theme

Duration of study

Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term/Part-Time – five years fixed term

Start date: January 2019

Further information:

Simulation of evolving thermal conductivity in materials for nuclear fusion

Fully funded PhD studentship (3 year) in Engineering Department, Lancaster University

  • Funding: Annual tax-free stipend of £14,777 (which will increment yearly)
  • Hours: Full Time
  • Eligibility: UK and EU Students



This project will employ advanced atomistic simulation methods to understand how the thermal conductivity of materials used in fusion reactors change due to irradiation.


Nuclear fusion is one of the most promising options for generating large amounts of carbon-free energy. The thermal conductivity is a crucial parameter in the development of key fusion reactor systems, including the plasma facing components, where rapid heat removal is essential and the breeder blanket region where transfer of heat to the coolant will dictate electrical conversion efficiency. Experimental determination of the thermal conductivity under reactor conditions is difficult due to the lack of appropriate facilities, therefore, the use of computer simulation is necessary.

This project will build on previous work to examine how the introduction of defects during reactor operation will impact the macroscopic thermal conductivity of materials using atomistic simulation, particularly non-equilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD). In particular, you will investigate tungsten that will be used in the diverter and lithium ceramics that will facilitate tritium breeding. The data you generate during this project will be input into higher level multi-physics models, thereby improving our understanding of the in-reactor environment and will be used in the design and construction of future reactors.

The project will involve extensive collaboration with the world-leading Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in Oxfordshire with potential to spend extended periods of time working at CCFE.


You should have or expect to obtain soon at least a 2:1 in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering or a related discipline. You should have excellent technical abilities and the desire to work in a multidisciplinary environment.

Application details

Please apply online via the University Postgraduate Admissions Portal with:

  • A CV (2 pages maximum)
  • Cover letter
  • University grade transcripts (where available)

You should clearly state on your application that you are applying for a funded PhD opportunity on “Simulation of evolving thermal conductivity in materials for nuclear fusion”.

Contact us

We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr. Samuel Murphy (