The University of Southampton

SESG6043 Nuclear Energy Technology

Module Overview

- Provide the students with an introduction to nuclear reactor technology with particular emphasis of power generation. - Introduce the students to the key disciplines of reactor physics and thermal hydraulics as applied in the design of nuclear reactor system. - The nuclear fuel cycle and the concepts of radiation protection.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims


Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Describe the current status of nuclear reactors for electricity generation
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different types of nuclear reactor for applications in a sustainable energy economy
  • Describe the fundamental physics behind nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and radioactive decay
  • Develop an understanding of the underlying reactor physics and engineering aspects of the reactor design
  • Understand the stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, from mining and manufacture, through to reprocessing and disposal.
  • Identify and evaluate the key safety issues associated with nuclear power generation.
  • Describe in outline the development of new-generation reactors and analyse their application for electricity generation, process-heat applications and transmutation of nuclear waste.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think, observe, communicate, evaluate information and data, analyse and solve problems.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the knowledge gained in the module to describe the various components of a nuclear power plant and the various options available for each of these components, as well as being able to evaluate the requirements and methodologies for radiation protection.
  • Critically appraise different reactor types, including novel designs, for various applications in a sustainable energy economy.


• Introduction: The world-wide nuclear renaissance (including risks to it); comparison with other energy sources; public perception; non-proliferation and nuclear safeguards (incl. Pu, breeding); financial costing. • Reactor Physics: Neutron reactions (scattering, absorption, fission); cross sections; reaction rates; radiation protection, dosimetry etc.; fission product distribution; neutron energy distribution; moderation; delayed neutrons; neutron cycle; four-factor formula; multiplication factor; fission product poisoning; point kinetics; prompt and delayed neutrons; neutron transport, Boltzmann equation; computer codes. • Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Mining; conversion; enrichment; refuelling; transport; reprocessing; waste handling; storage; geological disposal. • Thermal-hydraulics & Fuel Design: Radial and axial flux profiles; power peaking factor; volumetric thermal source strength; general thermodynamic considerations; heat transfer processes from fuel to coolant, conduction, derivation and example solution of heat transfer equations; primary coolant system: fluid flow; frictional losses in pipes; pumped flow; heat exchanger types; steam generation; coolant/moderator selection; coolant circuit considerations; computer codes; material damage/activation; • Reactor Systems: Gas reactors (AGR, Gen-IV); water reactors (PWR, BWR, CANDU, Gen-IIIa, Gen-IV); fast reactors (LMFBR, Gen-IV); fusion; accelerator-driven systems; process heat applications (desalination/hydrogen production)); transmutation of nuclear waste; safety systems; UK history; accidents.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods employed in the delivery of this module include: 1. Lectures and tutorials (problem solving sessions). 2. Student presentations on their research on either lessons learnt from selected nuclear incidents or non-electrical power applications of reactor. 3. Field trip to a nuclear energy facility will be scheduled. The learning activities include: 1. Self-learning by problem solving (tutorial problems and assignments) 2. Utilisation of PWR simulator (group activities).

External visits6
Completion of assessment task30
Wider reading or practice50
Supervised time in studio/workshop4
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Ian Hore-Lacey. Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century. 

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle - From ore to Waste. 

Glenn Knoll. Radiation Detection and Measurement. 

M Ojovan and W Lee. An Introduction to Nuclear Waste Immobilisation. 

J R Lamarsh. Introduction to Nuclear Engineering. 

IAEA. Reactor Physics. 

Nuclear Physics: Principles and Applications. 


Assessment Strategy

Relationship between the teaching, learning and assessment methods and planned learning outcomes: - The lectures and assignment provide logical, coherent and integrated approach that should provide the student with a comprehensive introduction to nuclear and reactor physics.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 15%
Coursework 15%
Exam  (120 minutes) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite - Part 1 MSc.

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