Understanding Nuclear Power Free Online Course by Open University

Open University

The Open University is offering free online course on Understanding Nuclear Power. This course is intended for those with a basic understanding of nuclear energy.

In this course, applicants will learn more about nuclear power, from the risks and benefits to the technology and its future. This course will start on October 9, 2017.

Course At Glance

Length: 5 weeks
Effort: 4 hours/week
Subject: Understanding Nuclear Power
Institution: The Open University and Future learn
Languages: English
Price: Free
Certificate Available: Yes
Session: Course starts on October 9, 2017

Providers’ Details

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

About This Course

Nuclear power remains a contentious issue – does it offer our best chance at sustainable energy future? Or do the risks outweigh the benefits? This course will answer some of these questions and is aimed at a broad audience – whether you’re an engineer or scientist thinking of working in the nuclear industry; a policy adviser working in energy or technology; a technical journalist; a teacher or lecturer; concerned with how infrastructure is financed or simply keep developing your understanding of nuclear power.

Why Take This Course?

Despite accidents like Fukushima Daiichi, countries around the world are keen to build new nuclear power plants. In the UK, a ‘nuclear renaissance’ is under way, while in other countries, like Poland, there is a lot of interest in building nuclear power plants for the first time. China and India have pressed ahead almost without interruption.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to…

  • Evaluate the key policy, environmental and economic dimensions of building new civil nuclear power capacity.
  • Explore the scientific and engineering dimensions of generating nuclear.
  • Evaluate nuclear power’s contribution to the climate control debate and current EU policy.
  • Explore the management of waste produced by operating nuclear reactors.
  • Debate the role of nuclear power in a modern energy mix.


This course is intended for those with a basic understanding of nuclear energy. You’ll need to be familiar with the following concepts: protons, neutrons, elements, isotopes; the difference between nuclear fission energy and nuclear fusion energy; alpha, beta and gamma radiation; radioactive decay; the difference between momentum and kinetic energy; the separate roles played by conduction and convection in heat transfer; the basic concept of a nuclear reactor; and finally the probability of four coin tosses yielding four ‘heads’ results.

If you’re new to this area we’d suggest trying The Science of Nuclear Energy course first.


Mark Wenman

Mark Wenman is a Lecturer in Nuclear Engineering with a specific interest in engineering materials used in reactor systems.

William (Bill) Nuttall

William (Bill) Nuttall is a Professor of Energy at The Open University. My main focus is on energy technology and policy and a major part of my work relates to nuclear power. My original background was in physics.

How To Join This Course

  • Go to the course website link
  • Sign Up At FutureLearn
  • Select a course and Join
  • Once a course has started, applicant will be able to access the course material
  • After the start date, students will be able to access the course by following the Go To Course link on My Courses page.
  • Applicants can buy, to show that they have completed a FutureLearn course.
  • On some FutureLearn courses, learners will be able to pay to take an exam to qualify for a Statement of Attainment. (These are university-branded, printed certificates that provide proof of learning on the course topic(s)).

Apply Now

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