Skip navigation
About Us

FAQs: Graduate Study

What’s the difference between the Postgraduate Certificates (PCSB or PCSVC) and the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership?

The Postgraduate Certificates (Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business or Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains) takes eight to nine months to complete (part-time). During this time students attend two (PCSVC) or three (PCSB) short workshops in Cambridge and undertake three assignments.

These Master’s-level programme are equivalent to approximately one-third of a full Master’s degree. They provide action-oriented introductions to sustainability in a business context for current and future leaders within all business functions who wish to improve their ability to respond to risks and opportunities, whilst continuing in full-time employment.

While on the programme, participants have access to the University of Cambridge Electronic Resources (e.g. Journals and e-Books). Successful participants receive a University of Cambridge Postgraduate Qualification which is worth 60 CATS points. The CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points system is recognised by many UK Higher Education institutions as a method of quantifying credit for a particular course.

The Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership takes two years to complete (part-time). It includes four, six-day residential workshops in Cambridge (two per year), three e-Modules, three assignments in the first year and a 15,000-word dissertation in the second year.

This University-accredited Master’s degree programme is targeted at current and future leaders who wish to develop and formalise their credentials as sustainability professionals, advisers, entrepreneurs or consultants, whilst continuing in full-time employment.

Master's students are fully matriculated students of the University of Cambridge. They become members of a College within the University, and are able to access the University Library and e-Resources. Successful students graduate from the University of Cambridge with a Master of Studies degree at a degree ceremony

What’s the difference between the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) and the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains (PCSVC)?

PCSB and PCSVC are similar in format and require approximately the same length of time to complete; however PCSB requires participation in three short workshops (two, three and three days), whereas PCSVC has two slightly longer workshops (four days each).

Both programmes are designed for current and future leaders who wish to improve their ability to respond to sustainability challenges and opportunities whilst continuing in full-time employment. PCSB provides a broad, action-oriented introduction to sustainability in a business context, with emphasis on how to embed sustainability from strategy through to operations. PCSVC has a similar intent, but is focused specifically on the value chain; hence the ‘lens’ is lifecycles, with emphasis on integration across functions within the organisation and on building positive relations with external stakeholders.  

How do the Postgraduate Certificates (PCSB and PCSVC) and the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership link?

PCSB and PCSVC are equivalent to the first third of the Master's programme. The topics covered correspond with those taught during the first Master's workshop and the assignments undertaken are similar to those completed in the first year of the Master's programme. Alumni of PCSB (since 2007) and PCSVC who are admitted on to the Master's may be exempt from attending the first Master's workshop (although they are welcome to join for the week), and undertaking the first year assignments. If exemption is granted, the fee payable is reduced. Please be aware that it is not necessary to complete a Postgraduate Certificate (PCSB or PCSVC) prior to applying for the Master’s. Furthermore, while completing a PCSB or PCSVC successfully may strengthen applications to the Master’s, it does not result in preferential access or negate the need to satisfy the Master’s-specific admissions requirements.

What is 'sustainable business training' or 'sustainability leadership'? Is it the same as corporate social responsibility (CSR) training?

CISL’s programmes focus on the business and organisational implications of sustainability, i.e. the risks and opportunities that sustainability challenges pose for business strategies and operations, the nature and scale of response required, and the leadership required to drive the changes that business and society need. Our accredited programmes on sustainability business and sustainability leadership aim to equip current and future leaders with the insight and skills needed to respond to sustainability challenges and opportunities, through exploring the full spectrum of 'core business' activities in relation to significant ecological, social, and economic issues, and the interactions between the various issues at a systems level.

When corporate social responsibility is defined broadly, then our programmes may be essentially a specific form of ‘CSR training’. When CSR is defined narrowly to refer just to philanthropy by companies, for example, then ‘CSR training’ is only a sub-set of the focus of our programmes.

Is this 'vocational training' in sustainable business or an academic sustainability qualification from the University of Cambridge?

The programmes are both accredited University of Cambridge postgraduate-level qualifications. Students on the programmes are given insight into the cutting-edge research taking place within the University and benefit from hearing lectures and being supervised by leading Cambridge academics. In addition to this the programmes have been designed to offer content that is directly transferable to business. Students engage openly with innovators from business to critique and explore best practice. Our aim is that both programmes provide a rigorous academic grounding for the development of practical business insights. Students are encouraged to take their insights from the programmes and create positive change within their organisations.

Can the sustainable business courses be taken full-time, or do I need to be in employment?

The Master's, PCSB and PCSVC are designed for students in full-time employment. They are not offered on a full-time basis.

Can I take the sustainability programmes from outside the UK?

Applications are welcomed from individuals based throughout the world. The part-time nature of the programmes means that they are suitable for non-UK-based applicants. Attendance at the residential workshops is, however, a compulsory element of the programmes.

Where do the residential workshops take place?

The residential workshops are run in Cambridge, UK.

What will I do for accommodation during the residential workshops?

Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership: In order to foster a collegiate atmosphere during the intensive workshops, we block-book accommodation, usually at Wolfson College or Robinson College. College accommodation is of a reasonable quality and rooms have basic furnishing and en suite bathrooms; however it does not provide full hotel standards of service and convenience. While students are not obliged to take up the offer of accommodation, staying in College is encouraged, since it offers practical benefits and enhances the experience of Cambridge student life. Accommodation at Robinson College or Wolfson College is also very reasonably priced, especially for College members. The cost of transport, accommodation and meals is not included in the Programme and College Fees.

Postgraduate Certificates (PCSB and PCSVC): Accommodation and meals are included in the Programme Fee and are provided at a University of Cambridge College and Madingley Hall. Participants are expected to be in residence during the short workshops. It is not possible to provide additional accommodation for family or guests.

What is an MSt in sustainability? Is it different to an MSc in sustainability?

An MSt is a part-time degree awarded at the University of Cambridge and Oxford University. Cambridge does not have an MSc award. Students who undertake a full-time Master's-level programme are awarded an MPhil. At Cambridge and Oxford all students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree can upgrade to a Master of Arts (MA) title six years after their first term of study without undertaking any extra work. Therefore a Cambridge MA is an honorary qualification. For students who attend the University of Cambridge and undertake Master's-level study there are two options – the MPhil which is awarded for full-time Master's-level study and the Master of Studies which is awarded for part-time Master's-level study. They both have the same gravitas and are recognised as the same level of degree.

I don’t work in the private sector, are these programmes suitable for me?

The short answer is yes, if you are looking to work with the private sector. The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains and the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership are designed for senior and mid-career professionals and managers who want to enhance their ability to respond to sustainability challenges and are looking to increase their own professional and personal development in the field. Whilst both programmes welcome applicants from the public sector and NGOs, these applicants should be aware that the content of the programme is predominantly focused towards business. Applicants from these sectors who want to deepen their understanding of how business is tackling sustainability challenges in order to enhance their ability to work with business will benefit from attending the programme.

How long are the sustainability courses?

The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business runs for eight months, part-time. During this time students attend three workshops in Cambridge lasting two to three days each. 

The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains runs for eight to nine months, part-time. During this time students attend two workshops in Cambridge lasting four days each.

The Master of Studies runs part-time for two years. During this time students attend four, week-long workshops in Cambridge (two in the first year of the programme and two in the second year of the programme).

When are the next programmes?

Dates for the next programmes can be found at the webpages for the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (contact pcsb@cisl.cam.ac.uk for more information), the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains (contact pscvc@cisl.cam.ac.uk) and the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership (contact masters@cisl.cam.ac.uk).

How much do the sustainability courses cost?

The Master of Studies costs £8,750 per year (i.e. £17,500 in total). PCSB alumni pay a reduced fee.

PCSB costs £7,000 in total.

PCSVC costs £7,000 in total.

Each of these courses is VAT-exempt.

What is the difference between the Programme Fee and the College Fee for the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership?

The Programme Fee covers the cost of delivering the course, including all teaching, materials, workshops, and assessment. This fee does not cover accommodation and basic subsistence costs during the residential workshops. Students are offered the option of reasonably priced accommodation, usually at Robinson College or Wolfson College.

The College Fee is a mandatory fee, levied by the College granting membership. All students at the University of Cambridge become members of a College, which provides pastoral support within a stimulating academic community. Robinson College or Wolfson College serve as the main host for the MSt programme and is where the majority of our students find membership. The fee covers the cost of providing a range of domestic and pastoral services. Part-time students are typically charged 50% of the full-time graduate membership fee, although College Fees for the next academic year have not yet been set.

Participants on the Postgraduate Certificates do not become College members and, hence, are only charged a Programme Fee.

For the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership, which Cambridge College should I choose for membership?

For Cohort 5 (2014–2016) Robinson College will serve as main host for the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership and will be where the majority of our students find membership. Robinson has a thriving graduate community and a good support network for graduate students. It is well-known for its beautiful gardens, excellent graduate accommodation and is centrally located near to the University Library and to the science departments located on the West Cambridge site. We recommend that you consider applying to become a member of Robinson College. You will be asked to select your preferred College as part of the application process via the application form. If you do not indicate a preference for a particular College, then your application will be submitted to Robinson College.

If you choose to apply to another College, please be aware that it might not be successful, and we cannot guarantee that you will receive similar support, especially outside the normal University terms (Michaelmas, from early October to early December; Lent, from mid-January to late March; and Easter, from mid-April to early June). Once a student of Robinson College, you will remain a member of the College for life, and this will include the opportunity to book accommodation and meals as part of alumni activities, and being invited to College alumni events. 

How do I apply?

When applications are open, they are made via the CISL website for PCSB and PCSVC. Applications for the Master's are made via the Institute of Continuing Education website.

In what way are the Master's, PCSB and PCSVC different from sustainable business conferences or short courses?

Our programmes draw on 20 years of our team's experience in designing and delivering programmes that help current and future business leaders understand and respond to significant challenges facing their organisations and the world today.

Students are given the opportunity to engage directly with leading academics, business leaders, NGOs and government. We use a collaborative learning model, which emphasises the importance of dialogue and discussion in small groups, facilitated by expert tutors. Though our workshops are challenging, students are given time to reflect and follow their own career and personal development interests. Students completing the programmes receive a recognised qualification from the world-leading University of Cambridge, and develop assignments that are directly applicable to their roles in the workplace.

On completion of the Master's, PCSB or PCSVC, students join some 5,000 CISL alumni, and are invited to join the Cambridge Sustainability Network.

Students on the Master's Programme also become Alumni of the University of Cambridge, which has a range of benefits.

Where can I find recommendations/testimonials from previous participants?

Watch videos and read testimonials from our current Master's students.

How do I find out more?

For the Master's, please contact masters@cisl.cam.ac.uk.

For PCSB, please contact pcsb@cisl.cam.ac.uk.

For PCSVC, please contact pcsvc@cisl.cam.ac.uk.

Does CISL run any other programmes?

Yes, CISL's range of executive education programmes has an international reputation for drawing together leading thinkers to achieve system change at national and international levels. We offer an international perspective with world-class faculty and contributors from academic, policy and practitioner circles.

  • Twitter
  • Linked in
  • Print this page

Apply for Graduate Study Accredited Programmes

Interested in our Executive Programmes?

Contact Us: Cambridge

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership,
1 Trumpington Street,
Cambridge, CB2 1QA, UK 

T: +44 (0)1223 768850
info@cisl.cam.ac.uk

Our Business Platforms