Nuclear Science and Materials BSc

Undergraduate degree programme Nuclear Science and Materials BSc H821

This unique course is designed to develop the skills and understanding required to prepare students for the Nuclear Sector. One of the major challenges the UK faces is reshaping how it generates electricity as there is a move away from fossil fuels. The Government are investing in the construction of a suite of new nuclear power stations which could deliver up to 40% of the UK’s electricity. There is a significant demand for graduates to work in this rapidly growing sector.

The University has over 50 years’ of experience in teaching the physics of nuclear reactors and associated research. There are very strong links with the nuclear industry who recruit strongly from our educational programmes. These courses are affiliated with the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research.

The present course combines modules in core physics, mathematics and computing together with engineering principles and materials, so that students possess engineering skills but have a grasp of the fundamental science. The course is a joint programme between the School of Metallurgy and Materials and the School of Physics and Astronomy, with additional courses being delivered by Engineering Schools.

By the end of the course students will have a broad grasp of physics and engineering principles together with a detailed understanding of nuclear reactor physics, engineering and materials together with an understanding of nuclear science and nuclear radiation.

Guardian University Guide top five
Materials Top 10 Complete University Guide

Times top 10 2019


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Amanda Field

Amanda Field

MEng Materials Engineering

“Birmingham was one of the best departments in the country for Materials Engineering and when I came on an Open Day, the campus was so beautiful and the department was really friendly and all the students and academics were really enthusiastic. We have quite a small course so all are lectures and classes are small so you don’t get forgotten. We also have weekly tutorial meetings which mean we can ask questions and your tutor can check you understand important principles. As we are a small course, we also socialise a lot. We often have lunch together and go for meals or pub quizzes.”

This course has been designed in response to demand from the Nuclear industry for a programme at undergraduate level to equip students with the fundamentals to help provide non-fossil fuel alternatives for our future energy requirements. 

This course brings together a range of modules drawn from top ranked schools across the University. Students will study modules from the Schools of Physics and Metallurgy and Materials meaning that you will receive a first class grounding in the issues facing the nuclear industry today, taught by some of the leaders in their field.

Course structure

The course offers a modular programme of study which normally leads to the award of Bachelor of Science (BSc) in three years.

First year

Core modules in your first year will include:

  • Fundamentals of Material Science
  • Classical Mechanics and Relativity
  • Introduction to Transport Phenomena

You will also study computing and mathematics to ensure that you have the essential skills for higher study in further years.

Second year

In your second year you will study subjects including Nuclear Physics and Fracture, Fatigue and Corrosion.

Third year

In your final year you will study a range of highly specialised topics developed in conjunction with our partners in industry, including:

  • Advanced Nuclear Physics
  • Design of Reactors
  • Radiation Protection and Detection

Students who choose to follow the Nuclear Engineering MEng route will have the opportunity to study further specialised topics.

This course has been designed to ensure that you have the theoretical foundations necessary to conduct further research in this growing area, or to obtain a graduate role in a range of disciplines from reactor management to radiation safety. 

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining accreditation

This degree programme will be accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and the Nuclear Industry. More information about can be found at

Generic skills-training, focusing on transferable skills and employability, is embedded throughout the course from the outset, and will ensure that you are equipped with the ICT, presentation, team-working and problem–solving skills which will enhance your employability on graduation.

BSc or MEng? The first two years of the BSc course are identical to our Master of Engineering (MEng) programme H822, which means that you can delay your final choice of degree until the end of your second year. Entry onto the MEng programme is dependent upon successful completion of your second year and you must provide excellent results (i.e. be on target for a minimum of a high 2ii).

Related links


Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Title Credits 
Fundamental of Materials Science   20  
Design for Structural Applications   20  
Physics Laboratory 1    20  
Mathematics for Physicists 1A   20  
Electromagnetism and Temperature and Matter   20  
Classical Mechanics and Relativity 1   10  
Physics and Communication Skills (Nuclear)   10  

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Title Credits 
Classical Mechanics and Relativity 2   10  
Mathematics for Physicists 2   20  
Physics Laboratory 2   10  
Nuclear Skills   10  
Statistical Physics and Entropy    10  
Fracture, Fatigue and Degradation   20  
Physical Materials Science   20  
Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Power   10  
Quantum Mechanics 2   10  

Year 3 compulsory modules

Module Title Credits 
Fission and Fusion   10  
Radiation Protection, Dosimetry and Shielding   10  
High Performance Materials and Advanced Manufacturing   20  
Advanced Failure Analysis and Characterisation   20  
Group project    20  
Materials for Challenging Environments   20  
Nuclear Physics   10  
Nuclear Physics Laboratory for Nuclear Engineers   10  

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:
£9,250 (UK/EU)
£22,260 (International)
Funding opportunities are available.

Metallurgy and Materials Scholarships

Please view scholarships and awards offered by the School of Metallurgy and Materials.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A level Mathematics and Physics both at grade A. You must also pass the practical element of any reformed science A levels which include Biology, Chemistry and Physics taught from 2015.
General Studies:
not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 at Higher Level, including 6 in Mathematics and Physics, with a minimum of 32 points overall. 

BTEC only considered when combined with other qualifications.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply, learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

You will need to submit an application through UCAS to be considered for study using the UCAS code for this course. Demand for places is high and we advise applicants to apply early. Please remember to provide full information on your education history when you apply

Learn more about applying.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Metallurgy and Materials where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we'll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

What you can expect
You can expect an average of about 20-25 hours of contact time per week, comprising approximately 5 hours of laboratory based activity, 14 hours of lectures and 4 hours of small-group teaching (tutorials). As you progress through the programme, an increasing amount of time will be devoted to project-based learning

Personal Tutor
At the start of your degree, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor who will remain with you throughout your studies to help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and dealing with any welfare issues.

Delivery of the course
In your first and second years, the course is delivered as lectures, small group workshops, laboratories, computer-based activities, enquiry-based learning and tutorials.  A strong emphasis is placed on design and research project work in your third and fourth years respectively.

Laboratory-based practical work forms an integral part of the School's degree programmes. Laboratory classes are embedded within a module and used, not only to develop your experimental practical skills, but also to reinforce concepts introduced in lectures or to explore a particular phenomenon.  First year practical sessions, typically, last two hours and increase in length in subsequent years to allow for more advanced experiments.

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside the lecture course, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate the lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) provides an environment where your learning process is driven by enquiry and the lecturer's role is purely as a facilitator. EBL is typically a group activity.

This requires working in a team and you can be assessed in a variety of ways: in either a group or individually, by written reports and/or oral presentations. EBL will give you a research-orientated approach to a problem, and has a synergy within research-led institutions like the University of Birmingham.

Project work: A strong emphasis is placed on project work in your final year. The range of projects includes practical work in the laboratory, or computer-based projects. You can choose the topic of your project from a pool of titles and work with your project supervisor to tailor the project to your particular research interests.

Assessment methods

The course modules are taught through lectures, tutorial problem classes, case studies, laboratory and/or project work. You will be assessed through a mixture of written examinations and continually assessed coursework.  Examinations are taken in May and June.

Assessment methods used include end-of-year examinations, written assignments, and oral presentations, computer-based tests, laboratory and project reports. Each module is assessed independently and most contain some components of continuous assessment, which usually account for 15% to 40% of the marks. Some modules are completely assessed by either examination or coursework.

We place strong emphasis on providing prompt and informative feedback on all pieces of work that you submit during your studies. Feedback comes in a variety of forms, including written feedback on pieces of assessment, class feedback sessions and one-on-one discussions with your tutors. In all cases, the feedback will highlight the good points as well as those areas that require more attention. 

As your degree progresses, you will attend fewer lectures and perform more independent studies and practical work in preparation for your final year project.

During your first year the University will require you to undergo a formal 'transition' review, mentioned above, to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in the School and can help with any academic issue you encounter. Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre?s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for your particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build upon what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Over the next ten years the UK will embark on an ambitious program of commissioning nuclear energy, creating opportunities from plant design and construction to finding sustainable ways of recycling nuclear materials. This new course has been designed in response to demand from industry for a programme at undergraduate level to equip students with the fundamentals to help provide non-fossil fuel alternatives for our future energy requirements. This challenging and growing field offers a range of well paid careers for graduates with strong technical and scientific skills.

We give you access to placement opportunities and careers advice and have strong links with a range of companies including:

  • AWE – Atomic Weapons Establishment
  • ESD Global
  • Radioactive Waste Management Ltd
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Uniper Technologies Ltd
  • Atkins
  • Clarasys
  • Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)

Other areas that favour the problem-solving skills you will acquire are finance, law and marketing as well as teaching and/or research.

A rich vein of expertise will be available to you to tap into, not only through the University-level Careers Network, but from the School's own careers tutor.  From these professionals you will gain the help needed to secure research or industry placements and, eventually, your graduate job. 

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Visit the careers section of the University website for further information.

Professional accreditation

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining logoAccredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer and partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.   Learn more about accreditation.

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Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

The Materials Society is the society for the School of Metallurgy and Materials, you may also be interested in the Nuclear Society.


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Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.