About the school

In 2011, a review of the health of UK academic nuclear physics research was commissioned by the Institute of Physics. A panel of UK and international physicists was convened, chaired by Professor William Gelletly. The report of the panel was published in October 2012. (The report is available here.) One of the final recommendations of the panel was “...that all of the UK academic nuclear physics groups join to form a UK Centre of Excellence (COE) in nuclear physics.” Further, it was stated that “the panel recommends that the initial and formal aspects of PhD education and training are carried out on a UK-wide basis under the auspices of the COE” as well as several other recommendations relating to publicity, knowledge exchange, and STFC/EPSRC partnership.

To take forward the formation of the so-called “Centre of Excellence”, a group of UK nuclear physicists was put together in early 2013, with representation from each of the nine UK academic Nuclear Physics research groups (Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, UWS, York, and Daresbury).

With input from all UK Nuclear Physics groups regarding existing provision for the formal training of nuclear physics PhD students, the group discussed possible ways forward to achieve the aim of providing uniform, coherent, and coordinated training to all PhD students in all institutions.

A survey of the UK nuclear physics groups revealed that a variety of different courses, both formal and informal, are offered at the nine UK institutions. Three of the nine UK nuclear physics groups are within SUPA, so the discussion naturally included the successful SUPA Graduate School model of remote delivery via video conferencing, and of the nuclear physics courses already offered in the SUPA Graduate School.

To proceed towards a UK-wide Nuclear Physics Graduate School, the following actions were decided.
  • A number of courses will be selected from different institutions, to form a portfolio of core nuclear-physics PhD-level lecture courses.

  • The core courses will be delivered to all students at all institutions across the UK via video conferencing, based on the successful SUPA Graduate School model, distance learning, blended learning, and remote (face-to-face/in-person) delivery.

  • With the agreement of SUPA, some of the SUPA Graduate School courses will be incorporated into the portfolio.

  • Some of the classes will necessarily be residential. The residential courses will provide an opportunity to hold tutorials, problems classes, and experimental classes for other courses.

  • A pilot version of the Graduate School, directed by Billowes and Smith, was operated in 2013-14.

It is intended that the Graduate School will now continue on an annual cycle.