Undergraduate Teaching 2023-24

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4I11: Advanced Fission and Fusion System, 2023-24

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4I11: Advanced Fission and Fusion System, 2023-24

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Module Leader

Dr N Read

Timing and Structure

Lent Term. 16 lectures, 1 group presentation session. Assessment: 100% coursework




The aims of the course are to:

  • provide an understanding of advanced systems, why they are being pursued, what their advantages are and their difficulties in becoming commercially viable designs.


Further aims:

  • What are the factors that are driving the development of advanced systems?
  • Overview of fast reactor development & Generation IV reactor systems
  • Introduce the principles of fusion energy physics and the current status of research;
  • Explain how the principles of fusion energy are to be applied for the design of future fusion energy systems;
  • Re-cycle fuel studies, including reprocessing and re-fabrication;
  • Status, issues and what would be needed to bring advanced reactor systems to a commercial standard with safety and economics as good as current Generation III+ designs

Fission Systems

  • Design objectives, drivers & alternatives
  • Advanced thermal systems – example high temperature gas-cooled reactor
  • Fast spectrum reactor systems – including external lecturer A Judd
  • Transmutation and advanced fuel cycles

Fusion Systems

Introduction & Physics of Fusion Systems - CCFE

  • Fusion reactions: cross-sections and reactivity
  • Magnetic and inertial approaches to fusion
  • Equilibrium, transport, instabilities and power balance

Physics & Materials - CCFE

  • Heating systems and current drive
  • Layout of a fusion power plant
  • Fusion reactor components and materials requirements

Performance Safety and Design - CCFE

  • Safety of a fusion reactor
  • Radiological hazards and waste products
  • Fusion in the market and timescale to commercial fusion plant
  • Designing a fusion power plant



Due date

Coursework #1

Group project (3-4 students) researching into a particular advanced reactor design.

This part will be assessed by a group presentation to the rest of the class.

The presentations will be scheduled at a convenient time outside the normal lectures schedule.  

Learning objective:

  • Research in depth one of the advanced reactor systems
  • Become familiar with a broad range of advanced systems, their strengths and weaknesses

Group project (33%)

15 min presentation

non-anonymously marked

3 weeks preparation

Due date: 27 February 2024

Coursework #2

Fast reactor analysis using provided computer models.

These models will be introduced during the preceding lecture.

Learning objective:

  • Understand fundamentals of fast reactor behaviour

Computational lab. (33%)

Individual report

2 weeks preparation

Due date: 11 March 2024

Coursework #3

Problem set on advanced fission reactors, plasma physics and fusion technology.

Learning objective:

  • Understand fundamentals of fusion power systems physics and engineering

Marked examples paper (33%)


2 weeks preparation

Due date: 25 March 2024



Please refer to the Booklist for Part IIB Courses for references to this module, this can be found on the associated Moodle course.

Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.

Last modified: 31/10/2023 09:49