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.

PhD project, University of Liverpool:
Uncertainty Quantification at the Edge of the Burning Tokamak Plasma

Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and the University of Liverpool are offering an exciting opportunity to carry out a four year Ph.D., focusing upon modelling the tokamak “edge pedestal” (a comparatively narrow layer of plasma that forms the interface between the hot, dense central plasma and the cooler, more rarefied plasma that lies adjacent to the machine first-wall components). 

The pedestal is characterised by significantly improved energy confinement compared to the core plasma, leading to a very steep temperature gradient. If its confinement properties can be optimised, then the confinement of the whole plasma will improve, leading to efficient power production. Not surprisingly, given that the desired temperature gradient is of order 100 million Kelvin over just a few centimetres, the region is very challenging to model (and measure), and much needs to be done to increase the reliability of the models.

This PhD. is an opportunity to develop highly sought after skills in uncertainty quantification (UQ), as well as a a background in plasma dynamics, well-suited to a subsequent career developing tokamaks into a practical and economic energy source. We are seeking applications from candidates with a strong undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (physics/mathematics/engineering/computer science) and a keen interest in using high performance computing and advanced UQ techniques to solve complex physical problems.

Further details are available at:

PhD project, University of Sheffield:
Understanding the role of helium in tritium breeder materials for fusion

Application deadline: June 30, 2016

The University of Sheffield is seeking an enthusiastic, motivated individual who is interested in learning about how radiation affects materials for fusion applications.

It is an opportunity for a 3 1/2 year, fully-funded PhD at the University of Sheffield, in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The project is funded by the University of Sheffield and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. 

The aim of this project is to determine the effect of helium on the diffusion of tritium in Li-containing ceramic materials. Li-ceramics are candidates for the tritium breeder blanket material surrounding a fusion reactor core. In the breeder blanket, tritium will be produced by the transmutation of lithium following capture of a fusion neutron. The production of tritium also results in the formation of helium atoms. Little is known experimentally about how tritium and helium will interact at predicted breeder blanket operating temperatures, specifically, whether helium atoms will trap tritium and consequently reduce tritium diffusion/extraction out of the blanket. Reduction in tritium diffusion/extraction would reduce reactor efficiency and affect the life-time of the breeder blanket. 

A programme of experiments, including irradiation experiments and state of the art characterisation techniques, will be employed to determine the dependence of breeder blanket composition and microstructure on helium-tritium interactions. 

The successful applicant will work in the Immobilisation Science Laboratory at the University of Sheffield, a world-leading centre for nuclear materials research, alongside 40 other PhD students. In addition, the successful applicant will spend at least six months working at CCFE’s facilities in Oxfordshire during their studies. 

More information and online application

ITER-CCFE-York Doctoral Research Position 2016

ITER (“The Way” in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today – do you want to be part of the team?

In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free energy source, based upon the same principle that powers our Sun and the stars. For the first time, ITER, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and the University of York are offering an exciting opportunity to carry out a 4 year Ph.D. research position, focusing upon modelling the energetic tail of thermonuclear ITER plasmas.

Applications are being sought from candidates with a strong undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (physics/mathematics/computer science) and a keen interest in using high performance computing to solve complex physical problems. The successful candidate will work with domain experts around the world to develop cutting edge technology in order to deliver fusion within our lifetime. The candidate will work with staff at ITER, CCFE and York to create algorithms, software and analysis workflows to be deployed within the ITER integrated modelling platform (IMAS) and to help solve engineering challenges associated with the design of plasma facing components.

The post will involve period(s) of secondment to the ITER site in Cadarache/France together with opportunities to build international connections in both fusion science and High Performance Computing.

Interested applicants can find out more, including instructions on how to apply via the EPSRC Fusion CDT website:

PhD opportunities at Fusion CDT

The Fusion CDT (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the Science and Technology of Fusion Energy) is a collaboration between five of the UK's top universities – Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and York. It offers a range of PhD projects beginning in October 2016. For more details of these projects and how to apply, see