Bristol takes £1.3 million funding from nuclear weapons company

Revealed: Bristol’s million-pound partnership with a nuclear weapons company.

Bristol has received £1.3 million in funding from The Atomic Weapons Establishment to do scientific research for them. The news comes just months after students protested against the presence of BAE Systems at the Careers Fair. 

The nuclear arms company is running a ‘technical outreach’ program with Bristol University to fund a professorship, PhD programs and research projects.  In return, Bristol scientists do their research.


Students recently protested against nuclear arms companies at uni

Students recently protested against nuclear arms companies at uni

The AWE is even allowed to give seminars, workshops and other teaching in Science departments at the university.  They wield their influence in physics, engineering and computing departments and they’ve been pumping money into Bristol for the past five years.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment is a private company that builds Britain’s nuclear weapons.  It’s in charge of Trident (the £100 billion ballistic submarine missile) and it’s been used by the Ministry of Defence for the past 60 years.

The university says it has “strategic alliances” with AWE and is “keen to pursue” its work for them.  They say the research is valuable because some of it is about safe operations and storage of nuclear materials.


AWE is paying Bristol to do nuclear arms research for them

AWE is paying Bristol to do nuclear arms research for them

Pete Wilkinson, director of anti-nuclear group NIS, says the alliance is also about recruiting graduates into nuclear weaponry.  “AWE values its academic outreach programme as much for the acceptance it buys for AWE’s own scientists in reputable academic circles as for its scientific findings.  We aim to warn scientists of the risks of being seduced into murky waters by the lure of AWE’s cash.”

The AWE also funds research at Cambridge, Imperial College London, Heriot-Watt Cranfield Universities.  Between 2010 and 2012, they gave £7.7 million in funding to universities.  They also privately sponsor student degrees and they’re currently targeting secondary schools to find a winner for their Young Scientist Of The Year competition.

Meanwhile, they’re advertising for graduates to work for them, saying “there is simply no comparison with AWE when it comes to investment, stability and long-term prospects for graduates.”

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    What a pointless article.
    “We aim to warn scientists of the risks of being seduced into murky waters by the lure of AWE’s cash”
    Hmm. What a fantastic argument… you’ll be hard pushed to find many students who aren’t hoping to get a job with decent pay at the end. After all, those student debts don’t pay themselves.

  • Arsehole Scientist

    Those girls in lab coats are poor scientists. Heels? I hope those help when you inevitably spill an eppendorf of cholera toxin and you have to run to the showers quick. Lab coats not buttoned all the way up? Forget PhDs girls, you’re getting pH Disasters. Hair down on the left? That’s going up in flames, like the hopes of you getting a first or surviving your university years.

  • Jack Turner

    I don’t see why so many people seem to be trying to destroy the chances of physics/engineering/chemistry/maths students at getting employment at some of the largest graduate employers in the UK. Quite frankly the whole BAE deal is ridiculous, again now we see people who feel their ethics are superior to the UK government. If we want to act as the ethical police for students entering future jobs why not talk about banning some of the following companies/jobs which could be argued as un-ethical, un-liberal or un-environmentally friendly:

    1) Ban all Banks & Finance Companies- Clearly these are companies behave immorally at every possible opportunity and literally suck away peoples money.
    2) Ban Military Organisations- OTC, MoD ect. should all be banned for war mongering, killing innocent civilians and human rights abuses.
    3) Ban Political Parties- Immoral behaviour and contempt for the public , the expenses scandal, pleb-gate, Cash for Access, Unions….
    4) Ban Oil Companies- Poor environmental records…
    5) Ban Public Sector Jobs- Time and time again we see contempt for the public, not just financial but also misuse of the power gifted to those lucky enough to be given the opportunity to serve their country…
    6) Ban Newspapers & Press- Phonehacking, Political Interference, Bullying, Libel…
    7) Ban any company doing any business with China, India, Russia- Clearly showing a disregard for human rights and promoting them to abuse peoples human rights.
    8) Ban the NHS- The Mid-Staffords scandal, GP’s huge pay…
    9) Large Law Firms- Abusing legal aid money, charging extortionate fee’s, abusing the weakest in society…
    10) Any music company that had anything to do with ‘Blurred Lines’- These are clearly all horrible people who believe only men should be allowed jobs…

    But seriously before we (students) jump at banning or discrediting potential employers perhaps we should consider the harm we might be doing to other students. In terms of just AWE, at Bristol we have some leading experts at verifying equipment/system safety and fitness for purpose in the country, a quick way to make our nuclear plants/sites less safe is to ban academics who specialise in this stuff from working with it! (Unknown to most people just because something is built safe it doesn’t mean it remains safe as it gets old)

    • Elephant Man


  • Anon

    Get with the times Tab, this was announced nearly 4 years ago

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