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Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership

Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership

Applications for the 2014–16 intake are now closed. Applications for 2015–17 will open around September 2014. To receive an alert when applications open or if you have any other queries, then please contact

Exploring leadership responses to sustainability challenges and opportunities

The Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership is a leading accredited University of Cambridge postgraduate degree. This programme attracts high-calibre candidates from a wide variety of sectors and countries. Both academic excellence and leadership on sustainability are prioritised in the competitive selection process, and in the design and delivery of the programme.

The interdisciplinary Master's is offered in association with the Departments of Architecture, Engineering, Geography, Land Economy and the Judge Business School.

The programme is delivered on a part-time basis over two years, making it an ideal choice for participants who intend to continue in full-time employment. Likewise, students do not need to be UK- or Cambridge-based.

The Master’s programme develops further the highly successful format used for CISL’s portfolio of programmes, including The Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme. In addition, it potentially provides an opportunity for alumni of our Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) and the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains to further advance their learning.

The Master’s typically attracts candidates who wish to formalise their credentials as sustainability professionals, advisers or consultants. We are also the first choice for mainstream business leaders seeking to gain a better understanding of sustainability risks and opportunities and how to respond to these. We likewise appeal to leaders from the not-for-profit or public sectors who wish to work together with the private sector to address sustainability challenges.

Why Apply?






The Master's Team 






The Master's in Detail







Application & Fees







 Master's Students

Main Components of the Master's

• Four week-long residential workshops in Cambridge, usually in August/September and March/April of each academic year.

• E-learning via a virtual learning environment between the residential workshops.

• Two individual work-based assignments.

• A group project around an area of mutual relevance.

• An individual research dissertation.

The learning approach is highly interactive and designed to encourage reflection and debate. Participants are supported by a team of expert tutors and supervisors. The speakers, lecturers and facilitators are leading experts and practitioners from academia, business government and civil society.

A key feature of the programme is the collaborative learning experience. The programme facilitates shared learning between peers, benchmarking against other organisations, and networking with the extensive range of contributors, together providing a rich learning environment. 

Graduation of Cohort 1 Master's Students

2013 Graduation of Master's Students

Aims of the Master's

The overall goal of the programme is to challenge, stretch and stimulate current and future leaders both to achieve academic excellence and to build their capacity to bring about positive change for sustainability. In particular, the programme aims to: 

  • Provide current and future leaders with an essential understanding of the most urgent and critical social, environmental, ethical and economic challenges facing the world, and to equip them to respond more effectively. 

  • Expose participants to a range of best-practice cases of how business, government and civil society are future-proofing themselves and responding to these complex challenges. 

  • Help participants make a compelling business case for sustainability in their sector and/or institutional context, and understand how best to put sustainability policies into practice. 

  • Give our sustainability Master's students insights into the leading-edge interdisciplinary thinking and research on sustainability, including some of the key scientific and technological issues, from leading Cambridge academics and other thought leaders.

  • Provide sustainable business training to participants from the private sector and to serve as a forum for gaining exposure to sustainable business practices for participants from the not-for-profit or public sectors.

  • Develop students' skills to think critically and to undertake relevant, business-focused research.

  • Link participants into the Cambridge Sustainability Network, including over 5,000 CISL alumni, faculty and contributors from around the world, who are leading the way in turning sustainability thinking into practice.

Additional benefits include: gaining full access to the University Library, including borrowing rights and electronic resources; membership of a Cambridge College; and membership of the University Centre, which continues after completion of the course.

2013 Graduation of Wolfson College Members

2013 Graduation of Wolfson College Members

Photograph of Wolfson College. Photo: Dele Oke
Wolfson College


The programme is delivered at a range of venues across Cambridge, ensuring that participants experience the breadth of resources that the University has to offer. This includes lectures at the associated departments and dinners in historic colleges.

College Membership

All students at the University of Cambridge become members of a College, which provides pastoral support within a stimulating academic community. Wolfson College and Robinson College serve as the main hosts for the programme and are where the majority of our students find membership. Wolfson was founded especially for graduate and mature students and is one of only a few Colleges that cater specifically for the needs of part-time students, including offering accommodation and regular formal dining outside the normal University terms (which is when the residential workshops take place). Robinson also has a thriving graduate community and a good support network for graduate students. Robinson 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.

Due to significant demand for College membership, we recommend that applicants applying to join Cohort 6 commencing in Autumn 2015 consider applying to become a member of Wolfson 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 levels of support, especially outside the normal University terms. If you do not indicate a preference for a particular College, then your application will be submitted to Wolfson College.

Once a College member, you will remain a member for life, and this typically includes some on-going opportunity to book accommodation and formal dinners, and being invited to College alumni events.

Queen's College Dining Hall. Photo: Philip_wgtn_nz on Flickr


To foster a collegiate atmosphere during the intensive workshops, we block book accommodation, usually at Wolfson 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. Students are not obliged to take up the offer of accommodation; however staying in College is encouraged, since it offers practical benefits and enhances the experience of Cambridge student life. Accommodation at these colleges is also very reasonably priced, especially for members of the College.

Formal Dinners 

At residential workshops, complimentary/optional formal dinners are held at other Colleges such as Jesus, Emmanuel, St Catharine’s, Queen's, Peterhouse and Trinity Hall.

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Why Apply?


Master's Flyer

Workshop Dates


Workshop 1: 14–20 Sep 2014
Workshop 2: 28 Mar–2 Apr 2015
Workshop 3: 2–8 Aug 2015
Workshop 4: 9–15 Apr 2016


Workshop 1: 30 Aug–5 Sep 2015
Workshop 2: 9–15 Apr 2016
Workshop 3: 31 July–6 Aug 2016
Workshop 4: 26 Mar–1 Apr 2017

Contact Us

Fergus Kirkpatrick
Graduate Programmes Manager

T: +44 (0)1223 768816