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Fellowship, PhD and MSc opportunities

PhD and MSc opportunities

Every year UKAEA aims to host new PhD and MSc projects with UK universities addressing plasma physics, materials science and fusion engineering, 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 (CCFE), while some are based at the partner university. All projects have a Culham and university supervisor.

Typically starting each October, we run a broad range of PhD and MSc projects with different university departments around the UK. Please check this page for updates and links to specific opportunities.

PhD student

PhD opportunities

Projects now available at our partner universities:

University of Birmingham, Department of Physics

Implementation of a novel nuclear-astrophysics technique for measuring difficult to reach nuclei for fusion

  • Funded PhD project
  • Applications accepted all year round
  • Project in conjunction with Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

As steel is used as one of the main construction materials for magnetic confinement fusion devices, like ITER and most likely the DEMO prototype power plant, impurities will undergo reactions to produce problematic long-lived products including Nb-94 and Nb-94m, Mo-93, Ni-59, Ag-108m and Ni-63. The reaction cross-sections for isotopes including Nb-94 and Mo-93 are lacking in nuclear data libraries, libraries do not contain any data to separate (n,gamma) and (n,2n) reactions into different isomeric state daughters, possibly because the half-lives of the ground states are so long making this a difficult measurement. This is a more significant issue for Nb-94 because it is likely to provide a much larger contribution to the overall activity of the long-term waste. Therefore, we need to devise experiments which can measure the cross-sections for these isotopes, and other similarly difficult to reach nuclei.

The focus of this PhD would be to devise, test and validate a new technique for measuring the cross-section of very long-lived nuclei which could use the Trojan Horse Method (THM) employed in nuclear astrophysics measurements. This technique is well understood but has not yet been exploited for (n,gamma) reactions, though the required framework is established. This project will involve a mixture of detailed and complex nuclear modelling and the opportunity to perform activation experiments. The PhD student may choose to be based at the UKAEA fusion research centre at CCFE Culham, near Oxford, from the second year onwards.

We welcome informal enquiries to t.wheldon@bham.ac.uk and chantal.nobs@ukaea.uk and encourage full applications through the Birmingham University portal: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/physics/physics-astronomy-phd.aspx (please put Tzany Kokalova Wheldon as the supervisor and the title as the research topic – for any further clarifications on the application process please contact t.wheldon@bham.ac.uk and chantal.nobs@ukaea.uk directly).


This project is fully funded for UK students (42 months). Students outside the UK will need to seek financial support from scholarship programmes.

University of Warwick, Department of Physics

Inferring energetic ion physics from ion cyclotron emission from fusion plasmas

  • Funded PhD project
  • Applications accepted all year round
  • Project in conjunction with Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

More information and application details

Fusion research fellowships

Research fellowships currently available at CCFE and partner organisations:

Culham Fusion Research Fellowship (UKAEA)

Applications for 2021 are now closed.

Salary: ~ £34,000 – £37,000 + excellent benefits including outstanding pension scheme

Closing date: annually, closing in December

Are you an outstanding scientist or engineer who has recently completed a doctorate or expects to complete a doctorate in the next few months? 

Do you want to be part of a vibrant research programme to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source for future generations?

Each year the UK Atomic Energy Authority aims to appoint one or two outstanding scientists or engineers who have recently completed a doctorate to a two-year research fellowship in any field of fusion research conducted at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).

Candidates need to be highly motivated and show initiative. Culham Fusion Research Fellows have a high degree of autonomy and are expected to define their own research programme, which should be aligned with the interests of UKAEA. The quality of the research project proposal, together with the skills and experience of the candidate, are key factors in the selection process. Since academic excellence is one of the selection criteria, it is recommended candidates mention significant prizes or other recognition in their application.

Managed and/or self-directed personal training and career development at Culham and elsewhere will be available and there will be opportunities for conference attendance and involvement in scientific outreach activities. Periods of overseas placements with our collaborators will be encouraged. The appointments will be two-year fixed term staff positions. Successful candidates will be expected to take up their appointments by Summer 2021.


In general, successful candidates will have completed their doctorates in the previous five years. Candidates need a good degree in physics, mathematics, materials or engineering science and a relevant PhD, preferably in fusion research.

Application procedure for Culham Fusion Research Fellowships

Applications will re-open later in 2021 and details will be published on this page.

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