International Radiological Protection School (IRPS)


With the advent of the many uses of ionising radiation and nuclear technology over the last century, experts in both national and international fora have worked for the establishment and the evolution of a system of Radiological Protection (RP). It is well established that the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) provides recommendations and guidance on all aspects of protection against ionising radiation that form the international RP system. Many RP principles have been agreed and accepted globally and serve as the basis upon which international standards from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and many national regulations and guidance are built. International bodies addressing RP issues within their charters, such as the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), through its Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH), have contributed to the evolution of the system of radiological protection by sharing experience and knowledge. This practical feedback continues to refine the underlying principles of the international RP system. These principles also reflect state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, as well as the experience and collective understanding accumulated over many decades. Their application has long benefited from the very experts who helped to establish the global framework of guidance, standards, recommendations and best practices, and who are also involved in applying this framework in their home countries.

A wide variety of guidance and standards documents are available. The technical facts are provided in these documents but how the different elements have evolved, and the full body of understanding that they reflect, are not well documented. Understanding the spirit of the RP system is an integral component of its effective application. In order to appropriately apply the RP system to existing and emerging situations, such aspects – the nuances, history and between-the-line meanings – need to be fully understood by tomorrow's leaders in order to progress in the radiological protection field.

The CRPPH has long served as a forum for exchange and co-operation, to establish best practices, contribute to the development of the key recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and issue innumerable technical and policy documents that capture the state of the art of RP thinking at specific points in time. The NEA decided to develop a learning programme in order to pass on a deep understanding of the spirit of the RP system, along with how it is intended to be applied in diverse and newly emerging circumstances, and how it is evolving on the basis of lessons from experiences. The International Radiological Protection School (IRPS) has been implemented in 2018 and 2019 through a co-operation between the NEA, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and the Centre for Radiation Protection Research (CRPR) of Stockholm University. Thanks to the highly appreciated support from the SSM and from Stockholm University, arrangements are in progress to organize the next edition of the IRPS, during summer 2021.

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Key topics

The IRPS programme has evolved over the last editions to address developments in radiological protection recommendations, standards, and related implementation and practices. The following subjects are covered during the five-day programme:

  • the foundation of the international RP framework: understanding the three fundamental principles- justification, optimisation, dose limitation, the three pillars -Science, Ethics and Experience, and key concepts, units and tools; exploring the RP system: past, present, and future;
  • building a system of protection around exposure situations: new approaches in international guidance;
  • evolving issues: ethics, stakeholder involvement, public communication;
  • state of the art of the RP underlying sciences: radiological exposure and dosimetry, radiobiology, epidemiology, social sciences.

Sessions are built on a mix of presentations and illustrative case study discussions to introduce practical aspects of the implementation of RP actions. Leadership and stakeholder engagement skills are deliberated as an undercurrent of the more technical aspects of these topics.

Learning objectives

  • gain a historical overview of how and why the RP system has evolved, and an understanding of the levels of radiation exposure, the health effects and the radiological risks– explained by the experts who contributed to the system's creation;
  • critically understand how the RP system's key features are applied in RP regulation and implementation;
  • understand the roles and differences in approaches at the international, regional and national levels (e.g., International Commission on Radiological Protection [ICRP], International Atomic Energy Agency Basic Safety Standards [IAEA-BSS], European Basic Safety Standards Directives [EU-BSS], National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements [NCRP]);
  • learn about the current state of the art in the RP underlying sciences;
  • discuss lecturer and participant perceptions, experiences and suggestions in relation to the potential evolutionary direction of the current RP system;
  • illustrate good RP communication and leadership skills through presentations and case studies.

Target group

This course is aimed at mid-career experts with relevant education and ideally three to five years of work experience in the field of radiological protection. Applications from junior experts or PhD or Post-doc students, with advanced knowledge in the field of RP, can be considered.

IRPS participants may hold positions at government ministries, regulatory authorities, research institutions, nuclear fuel cycle industries or other industrial or medical sectors, where their jobs include providing policy and practical level advice on RP matters.

Even though medical radiological protection experts are welcome to join the course, the application of ionising radiation in medical diagnostics or treatment is not the focus of the training.

Course organisation

Teaching methods

The teaching for each module is practical, dynamic and interactive. Talks and presentations from radiological protection experts are accompanied by case-based discussions and group exercises. Participants will also have the opportunity to address relevant soft skills.

Lecturers take into account the participants' own experiences to keep discussions directly relevant to their situation and concerns insofar as possible.


All course instruction, course materials and discussions are in English.


Candidates have to meet the following two minimum requirements:

  1. proficiency in English (B2 or equivalent), particularly oral communication, which is essential for effective participation in the programme;
  2. relevant professional work experience in the radiological protection field.

Application instructions

Call for Applications is open several months before the event. Candidates must send their CV and express their motivation to IRPS Secretariat in due course ( Notification of selection is sent to the applicants one month after the end of the application phase. Registration fees are fixed annually for the 5 day course, including coffee/tea and lunch breaks, as well as social events.


Participants are requested to complete a short pre-course assignment and to be familiar with a small set of reference documents. Details are sent in due time to participants, together with a list of reference readings.


On completion of the programme, participants received a certificate of attendance.

University credits (ECTS) may also be awarded to participants and will be defined for each IRPS.


The IRPS is organised by the NEA in co-operation with the Centre for Radiation Protection Research (CRPR) of Stockholm University and with the support of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).

Advisory Board

The International Radiological Protection School Advisory Board provides overall direction and strategy for the implementation of the IRPS. The Advisory Board is composed of well-respected radiological protection experts from around the world.