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A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology

University of Pittsburgh via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


The course, “A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology” is aimed at scientifically inclined individuals who want to learn more about nuclear energy and the nuclear power industry. It will address subjects such as: What is nuclear energy? What is its history? Who are its heroes? Why is it controversial? How do nuclear power plants work? What about nuclear weapons? What are the stereotypes and misconceptions? We expect many students who finish this class to want to go on for further study in a closely related field.


“A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology” is an overview course that provides broad subject-area coverage to introduce students to application of theory to practical aspects of nuclear science and technology in the world today with special emphasis on commercial nuclear power. The course will begin with a general overview of nuclear physics and the practical applications covered by the field of nuclear engineering. The majority of the course will focus on the theory, design and operation of commercial nuclear power reactors. The course will also touch on contemporary issues regarding nuclear power generation including: the nuclear fuel cycle, the economics of nuclear power, and nuclear non-proliferation.

The course will begin with a grand tour of the commercial nuclear fuel cycle and power reactors so the student will have some perspective before delving into the theory that is important to understanding the unique aspects of nuclear energy. The course then will return to the fundamentals of basic nuclear physics, reactor physics, energy removal and power conversion to prepare students for in-depth looks at the theory and function of commercial nuclear power reactors.

This course is intended for students who have had little to no academic instruction in nuclear engineering. Some of my incentives to teach this class are (1) to stimulate interest and excitement about nuclear science and technology, and (2) to create a more informed citizenry on the subject of nuclear energy utilization in the future.

  1. Introduction – A Grand Tour of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
  2. Atomic and Nuclear Physics – The Einstein Connection
  3. Nuclear Reactions and Radiation – The Life and Trials of Neutrons and the Things They Create
  4. Radiation and Radiation Protection – Radiation and Realism
  5. Fission Reactor Basics – Links in the Chain Reaction
  6. Overview of Power Reactors and Nuclear Systems – Over 440 in the World and Growing
  7. Nuclear Safety –Should I be frightened?
  8. Radiation and Radioisotopes in the World Today

Taught by

Larry Foulke



5.0 rating, based on 4 reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A balanced into to nuclear energy. It sounds more intimidating than it turned out to be! Lecturer was engaging
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    is it possible to get it in the archive somewhere? I've done the course, brilliant. Would like to revisit it again.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It was my first MOOC, and my first experience was really good. Perhaps that's why I am continuing to participate in more MOOCs.
  • Elizabeth Jones

    Elizabeth Jones completed this course.

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