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FutureLearn: The Science of Nuclear Energy

 with  Sam Smidt and Gemma Warrine

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With the need to reduce carbon emissions around the world, the way we generate our power has to change and nuclear energy is back on the political agenda. But do you know your fission from your fusion? Would you like the knowledge to make an informed decision?

The question of whether we should get electricity from nuclear power remains a tough one for governments all over the world. While it offers a sustainable, low carbon and secure way of meeting our energy needs, big questions surround the economic viability, the perceived dangers and the public acceptability associated with power plant operations and radioactive wastes.

Nuclear power stations currently generate around 18% of the UK’s electricity production. The majority of the current reactors are scheduled to be decommissioned by 2023 and we could be facing an energy ‘gap’.

This free course will delve into the science behind nuclear power and explain what happens inside a nuclear reactor and what it means for an element to be radioactive. It will explore some of the risks of producing nuclear power and examine the arguments for and against including it in future energy planning as well as looking at other potential future solutions.

You can find out more in Sam Smidt’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “Can nuclear power solve the energy gap?

The course does not assume any prior knowledge of nuclear energy and can be enjoyed by anyone interested in science and becoming more informed of energy choices.

1 Student
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Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
Pace Upcoming
Institution The Open University
Provider FutureLearn
Language English
Certificates $49 Certificate Available
Hours 3 hours a week
Calendar 4 weeks long
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FAQ View All
What are MOOCs?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses from universities around the world (eg. Stanford Harvard MIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you.  They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.

1 review for FutureLearn's The Science of Nuclear Energy

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful
2 years ago
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Ivo3185 completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
The Science of Nuclear Energy starts by explaining what atoms, nucleons and electrons are. It swiftly moves past that, without leaving anyone behind, explaining nuclear fission, energy, power, and electricity. But it doesn't stop there. It explains to us how nuclear stations are decommissioned and some solutions to th Read More
The Science of Nuclear Energy starts by explaining what atoms, nucleons and electrons are. It swiftly moves past that, without leaving anyone behind, explaining nuclear fission, energy, power, and electricity.

But it doesn't stop there. It explains to us how nuclear stations are decommissioned and some solutions to the nuclear waste problem. This course doesn't try to force you to have a certain opinion, they explore both the good: the potential of fission, Thorium and fusion, and the bad: the disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

I wish they'd gone on to explain further the dangers of radioactivity, other than thyroid cancers and to dispel the myths (?) of the Chernobyl genetic mutations, but this course was only 4 weeks long, and everything we learned was useful.
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