MEng Chemical Engineering with Energy and Environment

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEN40221
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit will provide an introductory overview of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle including the mining of uranium ore, the fabrication of nuclear fuel, the nuclear fission process, treatment, transport and disposal of nuclear waste, decommissioning techniques and reprocessing methods. Emphasis on these topics will be placed on the nuclear industry within the UK, but processes used throughout the world in the nuclear sector will also be considered. Students will gain an understanding of the radiological hazards associated with working in the nuclear industry and how the associated risks can be successfully managed. Historical perspectives of nuclear energy production will be explored in conjunction with public perceptions of the nuclear industry.



The unit aims to:

-Provide an overview of both open and closed nuclear fuel cycles.

-Provide an understanding of the different forms of radiation encountered and their associated risks.

-Develop an appreciation of the complexities involved in working in the nuclear industry and an understanding of how the risks in handling radioactive material can be managed.


Teaching and learning methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit (if relevant)

Continuous assessment



Exam style assessment




Transferable skills and personal qualities

Describe the different forms of radiation, assess the associated risks and calculate radiation doses.

Relate the history of nuclear energy to its perception to the general public.

Explain the various processes that constitute nuclear fuel cycles including nuclear fission, and assess the efficiency of nuclear reactor designs.

Explain the concept of proliferation resistance.

Select the appropriate classification of nuclear waste by calculating radioactivity levels, and appraise the processes used for transporting, treating and disposing nuclear waste.

Explain and critique reprocessing methodologies for closing the nuclear fuel cycle.

Formulate and evaluate decommissioning strategies for nuclear sites.

Generate risk assessments and safe systems of work for the management of radioactive materials and decommissioning of nuclear sites.

Explain and justify the use of techniques for the safe handling of radioactive materials.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written exam 50%

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 26
Independent study hours
Independent study 124

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Clint Sharrad Unit coordinator
Kathryn George Unit coordinator

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