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FAQs on our sustainable business courses

How do I choose which course is most suitable for me?

This summary table provides an overview of the course aims for each programme, and who might benefit from attending.


How do the different courses relate to each other?

This diagram shows the different ways in which the programmes interrelate, and how you might progress from one to another.


Where can I find details about the location, cost and duration of each course?

The summary table provides an overview of the duration and cost of each cross-sectoral course. All of the residential teaching workshops are held in Cambridge, UK, supported by distance learning through a virtual e-learning environment.

Further detail on each course can be found on the pages for:

Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership

Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Business (PGDip)

Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB)

Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains (PCSVC)


What are the benefits of these courses for my organisation and how can I get employer support?

Our courses are designed for those working in full-time employment, with a schedule that can be completed alongside day-to-day business activities. They offer content that is relevant and directly transferable to business. This page provides details on how the courses provide competitor advantage to the companies represented and how applicants can approach their organisations for support.


What is a Master of Studies? Is it different to an MA, MPhil or MSc?

A Master’s of Studies (MSt) is a part-time degree awarded at the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford. Cambridge does not have an MSc award, and at Cambridge and Oxford, a Master of Arts (MA) is an honorary qualification. For students who attend the University of Cambridge and undertake Master's-level study there are two options – the Master of Philosophy, 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.


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. 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?

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


How does sustainable business relate to concepts like the circular economy?

Instead of an economy driven by a linear model of ‘take, make and dispose’, the circular economy model is premised on designing out waste, allowing materials to safely re-enter the biosphere or continue to circulate as high-quality production resources.  Our graduate programmes encompass many aspects of circular economy thinking, alongside other important dimensions such as how environmental protection intersects with human development, issues of social justice, and the leadership required to drive change.

The circular economy is an integral part of the two-year (part-time) Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership where it features in modules on sustainable production and consumption, sustainable value, business model innovation and strategy. It is also a core part of our ten-month (part-time) Postgraduate Certificates in Sustainable Business and Sustainable Value Chains, as part of the teaching on business model innovation, drawing on research from the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), in particular. 


In what way are CISL accredited courses different from sustainable business conferences or short courses?

Our programmes draw on 20 years of 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 students join over 8,000 CISL alumni, and are invited to join our alumni network.

Students undertaking a Master of Studies course also become alumni of their Cambridge College, which has a range of benefits. 


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. Applicants from the public sector and NGOs should be aware that the content of the programmes is predominantly focused towards business, though in the context of working with other actors as part of wider systems. Applicants from these sectors who want to deepen their understanding of how the private sector is tackling sustainability challenges, in order to enhance their ability to work with business, will benefit from attending the programme.


I am a consultant. Are these programmes suitable for me?

A small number of consultants are accepted on to the programmes each year.  We restrict the number to ensure that the cohort has an ample mix of individuals based in mainstream roles within organisations. This is because peer learning is a vital element of the programme. The assignments have been designed to be business relevant and students focus them on their own organisation. At the application stage we ask that consultants provide us with evidence that they have permission from an organisation to base their assignments on it and that they will have the necessary access to organisational data to be able to complete the assignment requirements. 


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

All our courses are designed for students in full-time employment. They are not offered on a full-time basis. These courses are business relevant and practical. Students generally base the assignments on their own organisation and/or business context.


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, and one of the main benefits of our educational programmes is the internationally diverse and high calibre nature of our attendees. Attendance at the residential workshops is a compulsory element of the programmes.


Will I have access to University of Cambridge resources?

Students on our accredited programmes have access to the University of Cambridge Electronic Resources (e.g. Journals and e-Books).


Will I receive a University of Cambridge qualification?

 All students on our graduate programmes will receive a University of Cambridge certificate and transcript. PG Certificate and PG Diploma students will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at one of the Cambridge Colleges. Master's students are fully matriculated students of the University of Cambridge and are eligible to attend a graduation ceremony at the Senate House.


Will I become a member of a Cambridge College?

Master’s students are fully matriculated students of the University of Cambridge meaning that they join a College. The PG Certificates and PG Diploma are non-matriculated courses and so students do not join a College.

About

Our part-time Master's-level graduate study courses are widely regarded as some of the best in the world. They are accredited by the University, and have an emphasis on practical application.

for more information or to arrange a call with a Course Director.

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