Nuclear Engineering

​The graduate school is organised within the Department of Physics.

Director of Graduate Studies: Prof. Christophe Demazière

Administrator: Anna Lindqvist


(approved by the Vice-President on 10 May 2010. Ref. nr. C2010/457)
(revised 14 February 2013)

1 Subject Description and Educational Aims

The research in Nuclear Engineering spans over several disciplines and usually includes:
  • Reactor physics and dynamics
  • Multi-physics and multi-scale modelling of nuclear systems
  • Deterministic safety analyses
  • Fusion plasma physics
  • Radiation protection
  • Nuclear techniques
  • Particle and heavy ion Monte Carlo simulations
  • Nuclear Safeguards
Other closely related research topics might also include:
  • Severe nuclear accidents
  • Degradation of nuclear materials
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Nuclear fuel integrity management
  • Novel nuclear fuel production
  • Separation/transmutation
  • Final repository research
The graduate school in Nuclear Engineering is aimed at providing knowledge of the basis of operation in nuclear energy producing systems. The education is based on research with high relevance for both the industry and the academia.

Apart from acquiring a working knowledge in the topics above, the student will also learn general skills necessary for an independent researcher. The goals for the graduate education are:
  • To be able to define and limit scientific issues
  • To be able to carry on research by applying scientific research methodology and applying the results in another context
  • To be able to critically evaluate his/her own research results and the work of other researchers
  • To be able to work effectively in inter-disciplinary research groups by adopting an open approach to the scientific fields
  • To be able to pass on knowledge in a pedagogical way
  • To be able to apply an approach that conforms to generally-accepted research ethics
  • To be able to lead research activities
A student who successfully completes a graduate course programme at Chalmers should reach the above goals. They were formulated in a document “Goals for the Graduate Course Programmes at Chalmers”, approved by the First Vice President of Chalmers on September 27, 1999 (Ref. No C778-99). Some explanations of these goals can be found in the Doctoral Handbook (full version in Swedish or condensed version in English).

The individual study plans should be elaborated in such a way that such goals could be achieved. In addition, the individual study plan should not only be based on a follow-­up of the research project being performed. This document should tackle research, education, and leadership aspects. Concerning the last two aspects, a plan allowing the development of pedagogical skills and leadership activities should be proposed and regularly monitored.

The school interacts both with other universities and industrial partners. On the national level the coordination of education in Nuclear Engineering is partly organized in the Swedish Centre for Nuclear Techniques (Svenskt Kärntekniskt Centrum, SKC) in which Chalmers, KTH and Uppsala University participate. On international level there is cooperation and student exchange with many internationally highly regarded universities, for instance in the framework of ENEN, European Nuclear Education Network, which Chalmers is a member of. The graduate school organization and results of the individual research projects with relevance for industry are regularly reported to industrial partners and feedback is provided.

Finally, the PhD students belonging to the graduate school might also be enrolled in the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Centre (SNEC) at Chalmers, which is a cross-disciplinary forum bridging researchers and students from different Divisions and Departments throughout Chalmers in areas related to nuclear energy, together with industry members. Such a forum also allows a better mix of the PhD students enrolled in the Doctoral School in Nuclear Engineering with PhD students from other Doctoral Schools in related topics in a dynamic, stimulating, and challenging working environment.

2 Requirements for Admission

A university degree of at least 240 credits in Physics, Chemistry, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, or equivalent is required as well as a good working knowledge in English. Students, who do not fulfil the formal competence requirements but have corresponding knowledge, may be approved after examination. Decision about the student admission is made at the participating department by a Deputy Head of Department in charge of a graduate education and/or Head of Department together with the study rector of the graduate school. The admission is also based on the assumption that the student has previously acquired a basic education in nuclear engineering, e.g. passed some of the compulsory courses of the master programme in Nuclear Engineering offered at Chalmers. Students, who do not fulfil this condition, may be admitted if a basic course package is elaborated by the supervisor and approved by the examiner and the study rector of the graduate school. Successfully passing the corresponding courses might not necessarily give full credit points.

3 Organisation and Structure of the Graduate Programme

The graduation in the Nuclear Engineering Doctoral School is performed in two steps, the licentiate and the doctoral degrees. The extent of the graduate work is measured according to a credit system, where 1.5 credits correspond to one week full-time work.

The licentiate degree comprises 120 credits. The doctoral degree comprises 240 credits. This corresponds to 2 years and 4 years respectively of full time studies. Approximately one quarter of the time is used for coursework, mainly through literature studies and graduate courses. Sometimes the student is offered departmental work, such as lab supervision, tutorials, lecturing or preparation of research reports or applications. Such work is paid by the department but done outside the time allocated for the graduate program.

The doctoral degree can be achieved without preceding licentiate degree.

The essential steps of the graduate studies are
  1. Thesis supervisor is decided.
  2. Examiner is decided (can be the same as the thesis supervisor).
  3. Deputy thesis supervisor is decided.
  4. Individual study plan is formulated.
  5. Research work should be started as soon as possible.
  6. Selection of courses is taken in consultation with a thesis supervisor and examiner.
  7. Compulsory courses should be taken as early as possible.
  8. Participation at the seminars organised by the graduate school and the research group.
  9. Study of the research literature in the relevant area of research.
  10. Regular follow-up meetings with supervisor, examiner and study rector of the graduate school to follow the progress of the course work and research work.
  11. Thesis and course work completed.
  12. Public thesis defence.

4 Courses

Requirements: 60 credits for a doctoral degree and 30 credits for a licentiate degree.

The graduate programs in Nuclear Engineering may have different profiles such as being both theoretical and experimental and include elements from, for instance, physics, computational physics, thermal-hydraulics (fluid dynamics and heat transfer), material physics, dosimetry, fusion plasma physics, chemistry, and material physics. Thus, the courses needed may vary with the different research projects and the only compulsory courses are the courses corresponding to the Generic and Transferable Skills (GTS) course package.

Generic and Transferable Skills (GTS) aims to give doctoral students at Chalmers professional and personal development through a program of activities/courses not directly linked to their respective areas of research. The graduate student is required to take at least 15 credit points out of the GTS program before receiving a PhD degree. Chalmers offers a range of activities/courses as part of the program.

9 credit points in the area of GTS are expected to be obtained before the licentiate examination. Another 6 credit points are expected to be obtained before PhD degree examination. Mandatory courses for the licentiate degree are: "Teaching, Learning & Evaluation”, ”Research Ethics & Sustainable Development” and ”Career planning – Your Personal Leadership”. 1,5 credit points are elective (from GTS activities/courses). The 6 credit points after licentiate degree are also elective and selected according to the student´s need.

The elective activities within GTS do not necessarily have to be taken from Chalmers’ central activities or courses. These activities can be obtained from other providers at the suggestion of the examiner or supervisor and with the approval of the deputy head of department in consultation with the director of studies of the research school. As an example, GTS could include related activities or courses given at departmental level.

In addition to the courses within Generic and Transferable Skills, the student is also required to participate in an introduction day for doctoral students (before the licentiate examination at the latest). Further requirements are an oral popular science presentation to be performed prior to the PhD thesis defence and a written popular science presentation to be published on the back of the PhD thesis.

The 15 credit points in GTS are mandatory for doctoral students admitted to Chalmers after September 1 2012. For graduate students admitted before September 1, 2012, the 15 credit points within the area of Generic and Transferable Skills can be replaced by the following two courses (both of which are mandatory for the licentiate degree):
  • GFOK020 Teaching, Learning and Evaluation (3 credit points)
  • GFOK025 Research Ethics and Sustainable Development (3 credit points)
All PhD students, irrespective of the date of admission, should also attend the course GFOK015 General Introduction for Doctoral Students (0 credit point).

The supervisor and the examiner, together with the PhD student, might also agree on including some of the elective courses offered in the Master Programme in Nuclear Engineering as PhD courses. The students might get full points or only part of the points for such courses at the supervisor’s and examiner’s discretion. Examples of such elective courses are:
  • Solvent extraction
  • Nuclear materials
  • Chemistry of lanthanides, actinides and super-heavy elements
  • In-service inspection technolog
  • Modelling of nuclear reactors
  • Basic radiation protection and dosimetry
  • Radiopharmaceutical chemistry
  • Noise techniques in nuclear reactors
  • Radioecology and radioanalytical chemistry
  • Nuclear reactor safety
  • Fusion plasma physics
Courses based on literature study might also be possible. Past examples included:
  • Reactor theory (by Bell & Glasstone)
  • Stochastic processes (by Papoulis or Grimmett and Stirzaker)
  • Neutron reactions (by Foderaro)
The number of compulsory courses is kept at a strict minimum so that the list of courses can be tuned according to the needs for carrying the project and possibly to the student’s wishes.

Finally, courses taken and passed at the master level can be accepted as graduate courses (maximum 30 credits) provided that the student has at least 270 credits from the master level. Students that have 240 credits are not allowed to include courses from the master level among the PhD courses. There is a gradual transition in the interval between 240 and 270 credits. Decision about how many credits from the master level that can be accepted as PhD courses is determined by the examiner.

5 Dissertation

In addition to the course requirements listed above, the results of the research project should be presented in a thesis, written in English. The possible grades for a thesis are either “passed” or “failed”. In all matters the general rules for licentiate and doctoral theses at Chalmers shall be followed.

5.1 Licentiate Thesis

The examiner makes the decision whether the thesis is ready for a public presentation. The presentation of the thesis in the presence of an external reviewer shall take place in a seminar open for public in the presence of the examiner. The latter decides on the passing or failing grade for the thesis.

5.2 Doctoral Dissertation

The content and writing shall conform to the rules and requirements for publishing scientific articles in recognised international journals. The thesis can either be in the form of a compilation of published/accepted/submitted articles and manuscripts with an introduction or as a monograph.

6 Requirements for Degrees

6.1 Licentiate

  • 30 credits of graduate courses including 9 credit points in GTS (if admitted after September 1, 2012), or the courses “Learning and Evaluation” (3 credit points) and “Research Ethics and Sustainable Development” (3 credit points) (if admitted before September 1, 2012), and the introduction day for doctoral students.
  • Ability to independently treat a problem in nuclear engineering proved in a research work of 1.5 years (90 credits).
  • Work presented in a public seminar and in a licentiate thesis approved by the examiner.

6.2 Doctor

  • 60 credits of graduate courses including 15 credit points in GTS (if admitted after September 1, 2012), or the courses “Learning and Evaluation” (3 credit points) and “Research Ethics and Sustainable Development” (3 credit points) (if admitted before September 1, 2012), and the introduction day for doctoral students.
  • Ability to independently treat a problem in nuclear engineering proved in a research work of 3 years (180 credits). The work should display originality, depth and scientific quality.
  • Work presented in a dissertation for public defence and in a doctoral thesis both approved by a board committee, according to Chalmers regulations.

7 Supervision of Post-graduate Studies

Normally the student carries out the research work in close collaboration with a supervisor. For each student there should be:
  • Thesis supervisor
  • Deputy thesis supervisor
  • Examiner
The thesis supervisor is responsible for establishing an individual plan of study with details of all the planned activities. Such a study plan has to consider the goals for graduate education. Once a year, a meeting between the student, examiner or supervisor and the coordinator of the graduate school takes place to review the student's progress. After each such meeting and individual study plan is updated and signed.

8 Examination on Course Work

Courses are examined in suitable forms, usually by written and/or oral examinations, or seminar presentations. The grades ”Passed” and ”Failed” are used. The number of course credits is formally decided by the student's examiner on suggestion from the course examiner.

The licentiate thesis is graded by the examiner. A doctoral thesis is graded by the graduation committee, especially appointed for the thesis defence.

Page manager Published: Wed 17 Jun 2020.