Research into fusion, offering effectively limitless clean energy, is entering an exciting new era with several large facilities aiming to achieve the crucial milestone of net energy gain – a critical step on the way to realising commercial fusion power. To cause sustained fusion reactions the fusion fuel must be heated to 100 million degrees and so the fuel is rapidly converted to plasma, which is an extremely challenging state of matter to confine and control. The National Ignition Facility (NIF), located in Livermore, California uses the World’s most energetic laser to compress and heat a pellet of fusion fuel to 1000 times the density of solids, confining the fuel by its own inertia and producing energy gain. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is currently under construction in the south of France. ITER will use superconducting magnets to confine the plasma and is predicted to produce a 10 times net energy gain. Both NIF and ITER are crucial steps on the way to fusion energy but there are still many challenges. The University of York now provides a taught MSc in Fusion Energy, in response to the growing international need to train physicists to address these challenges.
The Department of Physics is proud to welcome students from all over the world. We are also committed to addressing the under representation of women in Physics and currently hold Athena Swan Silver and Project Juno Champion awards recognising our work in this area.
This one-year Master's course provides a firm foundation in fusion physics and technology. It is an ideal course to prepare students for a PhD in fusion energy or for employment in fusion laboratories. Lecture courses include, among others:
- Plasma Physics for Fusion
- Magnetic & Inertial Confinement Fusion
- Plasma Diagnostic Techniques
- Fusion Technology
In the Fusion Laboratory you will be introduced to the skills in computational and experimental plasma physics essential to Fusion research (and highly valued in today’s knowledge-based economy) by analysing data from real fusion experiments at some of the World’s largest fusion facilities. The MSc culminates in a major research project where, under the supervision of world-leading physicists at the York Plasma Institute, you will conduct cutting-edge research in fusion. Projects can be conducted in collaboration with scientists at the world renowned Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (home to the World’s largest magnetic confinement fusion device – the Joint European Torus), the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK or at large fusion laboratories across the EU.
During the MSc you will work in the York Plasma Institute, one of the UKs largest University fusion & plasma groups. The group was awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award, recognising the quality of the MSc in Fusion Energy. During your studies you will also have the chance to explore the many exciting areas of modern plasma research, for example: cutting-edge medical therapies utilising plasma jets and beams of laser-generated ions; plasmas as compact particle accelerators and next generation plasma space propulsion systems. The Fusion Frontiers and Interfaces workshop, part of the MSc course, provides students an unrivalled opportunity to interact with world-leading international fusion scientists, ensuring that the MSc in Fusion Energy is an excellent way to explore your interest in fusion and prepare for a career in this field.
Many of our students are offered PhD positions following the MSc - in both fusion energy and other subject areas. Many go on to PhD studies in York, elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Other students go straight into industry.
“After my Bachelors degree, I knew that I wanted to apply the skills and techniques I had learnt from studying Physics and Maths towards something positive. Nuclear fusion immediately stood out to me. Studying under many of the UK's top fusion scientists was exceptionally beneficial for my knowledge. The lectures were incredible, with each course designed to provide you with the most up-to-date fusion physics and engineering. It was always a dream of mine to move abroad and learn another language, and after the MSc I was accepted for a PhD at CRPP in Switzerland. I don't know what I would have done without the MSc, even from day one here at CRPP I was able to sit in presentations and understand the different terms and acronyms used in fusion research” Hamish Patten (MSc student)
"I studied for the MSc in Fusion Energy part-time over two years in order to keep working whilst I completed it. During the MSc, I studied a wide variety of plasma physics and learned a lot about how to operate in a modern and vibrant research area like fusion. I got the chance to work with researchers on the cutting edge of laser plasma physics by working on a project at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. I chose to carry on my studies in a PhD focussing on laser produced plasmas at York as I enjoyed my MSc so much.” David Blackman (MSc Student)
Further Information and How to Apply
For further information please see the course website or contact Ruth Lowman. Further information about funding and scholarships, in particular the new UK government loan scheme, is available here. To apply for the course please click the button below. The course entry requirements are a minimum of a lower second class Bachelors degree (or equivalent) in physics or a related discipline (for example mathematics or engineering)