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Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business

Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB)

The application deadline for PCSB 2015 has now closed. If you are interested in the programme, please contact us directly on +44 (0)1223 768818 or

"The course is definitely having a profound influence on my attitude to business, sustainability and what can be done. I really feel I am on a journey. The quality of the speakers has been second to none, the content is new and you feel it is really being delivered by experts."
Romy Kenyon, Sustainability Projects Manager West Europe, 3M

The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) is a Master's-level accredited programme from the University of Cambridge. It equips senior and mid-career professionals and managers with the relevant skillsets to integrate sustainability thinking into business actions.

PCSB is widely regarded as one of the leading Master's-level programmes internationally for individuals who are seeking to enhance their ability to lead and influence change for sustainability, whilst also gaining an academic award. The programme, now in its 18th year, attracts strong, international cohorts of senior and mid-career professionals, predominantly from business. Because of this, PCSB alumni benefit from the world-class peer networking opportunities that the programme provides.

The programme spans a 9-month period (part-time) and is built around:

  • Three short residential workshops;

  • Individual work-based assignments;

  • A group research project around an area of mutual relevance.


The Benefits to Business

Global sustainability challenges such as climate change, poverty and inequality, loss of biodiversity and global population pressures present a number of risks and opportunities to business and can impact the ability to generate value. Society increasingly sees business as a provider of solutions for these global challenges, and there is growing recognition that farsighted companies which are taking a positive and proactive approach to embedding sustainability in their core business will gain significant advantage, through mitigating risks, increasing resilience and enhancing value in the short and long term.


For over 17 years, PCSB has delivered cutting-edge insight to meet the dynamic needs of business and leaders from government and non-governmental organisations. The strength of the programme lies in the combination of access to Cambridge sustainability research and extensive University resources, with an emphasis on collaborative learning, peer networking, and real-life application to business contexts. Students have all the benefits of a rigorous programme accredited by the University, whilst being supported by a team of expert tutors to apply their learning to mainstream business practice. A strong emphasis is placed on equipping business leaders to bring about organisational change towards sustainable and flexible business. We recently surveyed our PCSB alumni and, based on over 60 responses, here are some of their insights into the value of the programme.

"CISL has given me the fundamentals and latest understanding in the field through access to an overwhelming array of academic resources and the best learning ambience."
Mayu Avila, Regional Head Corporate Sustainability, HSBC Latin America
At a workshop

PCSB is especially targeted at current and future business leaders, particularly those in mainstream business roles, although we welcome applications from those in other sectors who are interested in sustainability in a business context. The programme is uniquely designed to encourage participants to go beyond the practical application of tools and models, to develop insights and world views that make business sense of sustainability, and empower leaders to bring about organisational change.

The programme content is explored predominantly through the three workshops, which take participants on a journey: first building their awareness of key sustainability issues and their relevance to business; then deepening their understanding of the global context in which they operate; and finally exploring practical approaches to achieving change in their organisations. Each workshop provides a mixture of expert input and commentary, intensive group discussion, facilitated project planning and review, opportunities for peer support, and informal networking between participants.

The content is taught using CISL's distinctive, collaborative learning approach with a strong emphasis on learning from shared experience and best-practice in relevant sectors and other industries. Project-based learning to support strategy development and implementation is a key feature of the programme, as is the opportunity to engage and collaborate with a world-class network of contributors and practitioners from business, NGOs, academia and government, who combine expert perspectives with real candour and constructive challenge.

At the end of the course, participants can expect to have covered some of the key business challenges of the 21st century, including:

  • Defining the boundaries of corporate responsibility in relation to today’s global challenges;

  • Devising and implementing effective approaches to socially responsible business, which at the same time encourage innovation and competitiveness;

  • Responding to the diverse social, environmental and economic expectations of stakeholders and society at large; and

  • Identifying the critical skills and experience that will enable an organisation to achieve its sustainability objectives. 



The Department of Engineering © University of Cambridge; Photo credit: Sir Cam
The Department of Engineering © University of Cambridge; Photo credit: Sir Cam

Participants successfully completing the programme will:

  • Gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business accredited by the University of Cambridge;

  • Deepen their understanding of how sustainability issues impact on their sector, their organisation and their role;

  • Develop the means to articulate the business case for sustainability, whilst balancing stakeholders' needs;

  • Analyse global business challenges, responses and organisational change;

  • Build confidence to discuss emerging trends and issues which affect the business agenda with senior colleagues;

  • Explore best practice and learn collaboratively with other professionals with different perspectives and experts in the field;

  • Enhance their skills and experience in embedding sustainability in mainstream business operations and driving organisational change.

  • Become a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Network, which includes over 5,000 CISL alumni, faculty and contributors from around the world, who are leading the way in turning sustainability thinking into practice.

What our alumni think of PCSB

"Many of the presentations are genuinely amazing and will leave a lasting impression on you. The course delivers on the expectations that most people would have of Cambridge."
John Isherwood, Head of Sustainability, Pret a Manger

We recently surveyed our PCSB alumni and, based on over 60 responses, here are some of their insights into the value of the programme.

King's College, Cambridge

Successful completion of PCSB results in a Postgraduate Certificate awarded by the University of Cambridge. This carries 60 CATS points at Level M and is equivalent to one-third of a Master's degree.

Candidates who have successfully completed PCSB are welcome to apply for the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership, also delivered by CISL. Please be aware that while completing PCSB successfully may strengthen further your application, it does not result in preferential access or negate the need to satisfy the Master’s-specific admission requirements.

Alternatively, it may be possible to transfer the CATS points to Level M programmes of other higher education institutions. As institutions vary on their policies of accepting transferred credits you should contact your preferred institution for further advice.

King's College, Cambridge

 PCSB 15-Year Anniversary Reunion

In March 2013, CISL celebrated 15 years of delivering the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business. To mark this occasion, over 100 Alumni, Tutors and others supporters of the programme attended a reunion held at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

The evening provided an opportunity to bring together dynamic leaders and champions of sustainability from a whole range of sectors, functions and regions. Through table discussions and informal networking our guests were able to discuss their sustainability achievements / challenges and share insights into future developments whilst reuniting with fellow alumni and making new connections across the network.

PCSB 15-Year Anniversary Reunion

Alumni Survey

Prior to the reunion we asked all of the programme's alumni to complete a survey to gather their views on the current state of sustainability leadership and to hear how their experiences on the programme had supported their sustainability endeavours. We were delighted to see the significant impact that the programme has had on many alumni, and to see that many of them continue to drive leadership and change both within their organisations and in the wider system.

The survey results were presented at the reunion and can be downloaded here (pdf).  

PCSB 15-Year Anniversary Reunion

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PCSB Flyer

Key dates

COHORT 18 2015

Workshop 1: 16–18 Mar 2015
Workshop 2: 27–29 Jul 2015
Workshop 3: 28–30 Oct 2015

Contact Us

Bethany Knights–Prince
Project Co-ordinator

T: +44 (0)1223 768818