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The Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE) Master’s and Postgraduate Certificate are supported by the Departments of Engineering and Architecture, and many of the academic staff from both departments are involved in teaching and supervising. The core team of University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) staff manage the course throughout the year, and have most contact with the students. 

External Examiners are appointed as members of the Board of Examiners and play an essential part in ensuring that formal procedures are adhered to, that the standards of awards in Cambridge are comparable to those elsewhere, and in suggesting improvements to the examination process.  

When they arrive, students will be allocated a Director of Studies for the duration of the course, who are academic staff closely involved in the course. In addition, they will be allocated a Tutor for the group project and an individual supervisor for each piece of coursework. These will come from the group of Tutors and Supervisors (or from the core team). For the second-year thesis, supervisors will come from across the University, depending on the topic chosen. For more information on the academic support offered to students throughout the course, please see Support for students.


Learning approach

You will be exposed to a great range of new concepts, ideas and knowledge. The ways in which these are supported and presented include: 

  • Technical lectures on specific aspects of the individual themes of the course, presented by some of the foremost thought leaders from academia and industry. 
  • ‘Horizon’ lectures on wider interdisciplinary ideas; recent lectures include ‘The structure of Bach’s Fugues’ by Dr Martin Ennis, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Music; ‘How animals move’ by Dr David Bainbridge, the University Clinical Veterinary Anatomist; and ‘Maths, geometry, nudity and art’ by Allan McRobie, Reader in the Department of Engineering. 
  • Workshops and lectures helping you to progress your critical analysis, and research and writing skills. 
  • Online modules to develop teamwork, leadership and research skills. 
  • Focused learning and exercises on interdisciplinary practice, including understanding individual learning styles, personality types and roles. 
  • Design projects in small teams focusing on a specific problem related to the week’s theme; co-producing knowledge and supporting the development of an understanding of different disciplinary cultures. 
  • Presentations of the studio projects and of an individual assignment to a supportive and interested audience of your peers. 
  • Written assignments, based on your own pressing questions, and supported through access to the best academic libraries in the world. 
  • Individual ‘supervisions’ (the Cambridge word for tutorials) with academic advisors providing expert support for your research. 
  • Detailed individual written feedback on your assignments and presentations to help you develop as a reflective practitioner. 


Core modules

Our Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE) programmes offer flexible, part-time learning and are available as a ten-month Postgraduate Certificate or two-year Master’s (MSt). Courses are delivered through a blend of online modules via a virtual learning environment, and interactive workshops in Cambridge.

Module 1: Leadership, professionalism and interdisciplinary practice

Develop the skills and competencies required to help lead and achieve effective collaboration within interdisciplinary teams.

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Module 2: Sustainability and resilience

Examine the principles and practices of sustainable development and understand the environmental, social and economic impacts.


Module 3: Innovation and technology

Explore how new ideas, tools, devices and methods can help improve performance and make built environments that are more responsive to user needs.


Module 4: Design thinking

Understand the many definitions and uses of design and how to integrate skills from different disciplines to improve project design.


Module 5: Research skills

Learning core academic research skills including methodology, research design and qualitative and quantitative methods to help transform professional knowledge into rigorous academic learning.



Academic Advisory Committee 

As an applied, practitioner-oriented Master's, the programme is designed to draw upon insights from leading academic and industry professionals. This committee is made up of academics from across various departments at the University who are involved in the design, development, and management of the built environment. They ensure that the course incorporates the latest academic thinking from across the various built environment disciplines; and, that the administration of the course is aligned with best practice within the University. 


CISL is monitoring the Covid-19 situation and responding accordingly to UK Government and University advice. At present, we expect to deliver our Postgraduate programmes starting in 2022 as advertised. We are well equipped to deliver dynamic and engaging workshops remotely, should the situation demand. Find out more.


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Programme overview


Meet the Directors

Join a webinar session hosted by the Directors of our part-time postgraduate courses as they give you an overview of our programmes and admissions process for 2022 applications and can answer your questions.


Quick links

IDBE home

About IDBE

Course assignments and dissertation

IDBE testimonials


IDBE sources of funding

Dissertation supervisors

Information for employers

Professional networks

Support for students

What's the difference between an MSc and an MSt?



Course Enquiries

Becky Stanley, Senior Project Manager