Master of Nuclear Science


Nuclear issues are very much on the agenda and the ANU has introduced a coursework Masters program in response to a need for training and independent information in this area. The program is intended to inform the policy debate, rather than advocating a particular position.

Admission Criteria

An undergraduate degree in Science or Engineering is preferred. Prospective students with different three year degrees would also be considered, taking into account their relevant academic background and professional or other experience

The program consists of 8-10 courses of which students are expected to complete 8. The program is designed to be complete in one year of full-time study. It may also be taken part-time.

Course Details

PHYS8201 Nuclear Fundamentals (Semester 1)

This course aims to introduce students to the key concepts in nuclear physics. These include: fundamental nuclear properties, nuclear binding energy, nuclear transmutation and decay, exponential decay law and secular equilibrium, nuclear reactions, fission, fusion, simple nuclear models.

PHYS8202 Reactor Science (Semester 1)

PHYS8202 introduces students to the key concepts in Reactor Physics, including: Basic nuclear principles (fission, neutron moderation); Simplified reactor models (one group reactor equation); Nuclear Fuel options; Reactor types; Reactor operation and control; Safety and accidents; Waste management options; Reactor economics.

PHYS8203 Accelerator Science (Semester 1)

PHYS8203 discusses the design, operation and applications of particle accelerators. The course will cover electrostatic and linear accelerators, cyclotrons and synchrotrons. Particular emphasis will be placed on the use of accelerators for mass spectrometry (AMS). Emerging applications such as nuclear waste transmutation and accelerator driven energy systems will be discussed. Practical experience in operation of an electrostatic accelerator is an important component of the course.

PHYS8204 Nuclear Radiation (Semester 1)

PHYS8204 introduces students to key concepts concerning nuclear radiation.A thorough grounding which covers the physical processes by which nuclear radiation interacts with matter will provide the background to further study of topics including the stopping and absorption of nuclear radiation, radiation shielding, the effects of nuclear radiation on biological systems, radiological protection and radiation dosimetry, as well as the assessment of risks associated with exposure to nuclear radiation. The course will also cover the various widespread uses of nuclear radiation in industrial and medical contexts.

PHYS8205 Nuclear Fuel Cycle (Semester 2)

PHYS8205 will cover: the nucleosynthesis of U and Th, subsequent distribution of these elements and their decay products through terrestrial reservoirs (core, mantle, and crust); the dramatic change in the geochemical behaviour of U consequent to the oxygenation of the Earth's atmosphere at ~ 2.4 Ga will be examined together with the consequences both for distribution of U within the Earth and the formation of different types of U deposits; development of natural reactors, their detection, and the mobility of decay products; the use of parent-daughter U-Pb and Th-Pb decay schemes in determining the ages of the Earth and other objects in the Solar System, and tracing recycling of U through the Earth; the mobility and geochemistry of intermediate decay products in the environment; occurrence and geology of different types of U and Th deposit; processing and fabrication of nuclear fuel rods, and reprocessing of nuclear waste; waste disposal options.

PHYS8206 Nuclear Measurement Methods (Semester 2)

This course provides a practical introduction to the measurement techniques used in nuclear science. It will cover the principles of operation of nuclear detectors and radiation counting techniques. Students will use gamma-ray and particle detectors to complete an experimental project using the ANU's Heavy-Ion Accelerator facility.

PHYS8207 Special Project (Semester 1 or 2)

This course provides an opportunity to explore in depth any topic that has a connection to nuclear science or technology. This may take the form of a research essay, or a practical investigation, using for example the ANU's Heavy-Ion Accelerator facility. The project could also include a comparative study of different sources of energy.

SCOM8014 Communicating Science with the Public (Semester 1)

(Note that this course is run by the Centre for Public Awareness of Science.)

The aim of this course is to address the problems commonly encountered by those communicating science and technology to a general public who have little relevant background knowledge.

The course content includes aspects of understanding risk; current issues of dialogue between experts and the public; language in science; misconceptions; the use of appropriate analogies and activities; evaluating outreach; and presenting the science in a relevant and interesting manner. Assessment is by portfolio, with a strong emphasis on a design component which will exemplify students' understanding of various aspects of communicating nuclear science.

SCOM8027 Science and Public Policy (Semester 2)

(Note that this course is run by the Centre for Public Awareness of Science.)

In this course, science policy and governance in the Australia-Pacific region are examined from a broad range of perspectives, underpinned by relevant theory and practice from the emerging discipline of science communication. Subjects to be covered include: Policy for doing science and for implementing its outputs, Appropriate science and technology policy and practice, Science priorities versus government priorities, The differing languages and timeframes of scientists and policy makers, Practical techniques for community involvement, Risk perception, analysis and communication.

STST8026 Nuclear Strategy in the Asian Century (Strategic and Defence studies Centre) (Semester 2)

(Note that this course is run by the Strategic and Defence studies Centre)

This masters level course will review the development and current state of nuclear technology, how it influenced various deterrence and warfighting strategies, and how arms control, counterproliferation and missile defence may be used to react to an adversary's nuclear threat. It then focuses on nuclear weapons in Asia, and demonstrates how various states in the region seek to attain their political goals through procuring, deploying, and, if necessary, using nuclear weapons. In particular, the possibility of nuclear terrorism, proliferation issues in Iran and North Korea, the use of nuclear weapons in major power conflicts in North Asia and on the Indian Sub-Continent, and Australia's nuclear policies will be discussed in detail, with a particular emphasis on the interplay and relationship between the political goals, available technology, and employment strategies.


Stuchbery, Andrew profile
Head of Department
02 6125 2097
Lane, Gregory profile
Senior Fellow and ARC Future Fellow
02 6125 0375

Updated:  15 June 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster