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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)



Applications for 2025 open in September.

Applications to the Postgraduate Certificate can be made directly to CISL. Applications for the Master’s must be made via the Institute for Continuing Education. 


Applying for the Master’s or Postgraduate Certificate

The selection process will adjudicate candidates against the criteria below. Whilst academic performance is one of the criteria that we will review in order to identify the strongest candidates, we will also consider other indicators of ability.

Applications are considered as they are received (rolling admissions). We typically receive a large volume of applications towards the closing date, hence applying as early as possible can increase the likelihood of receiving an early indication of the likely/final outcome. This can be especially helpful for applicants requiring time to obtain organisational approval, funding or visas to study, or make other travel or personal arrangements. 

All applicants should expect to receive an update on the progress of their application within 6 weeks. The initial update for early applicants will usually indicate one of the following: 
1) offer of a place recommended;
2) rejection; or 
3) held for consideration with all the applications after the closing date. 
We aim to make firm decisions (1-2) as early as possible via a rigorous selection process in relation to our admissions criteria. If the decision is to hold the application (3), then the applicant should expect to hear back on the final outcome within 6 weeks of the closing date.

Master’s or Postgraduate Certificate?

Professionals choose further education for a variety of reasons. CISL offers both a Postgraduate Certificate and Master’s to accommodate the needs of different types of students.  Students on the Postgraduate Certificate: 
•    wish to enhance their knowledge without committing to a full 2-year programme;  
•    want to benefit from lifelong learning but may not want to write a dissertation; 
•    want to pursue higher education in smaller pieces (students who complete the Postgraduate Certificate can apply to continue on to the Master’s); 
•    may be ‘non-traditional’ students who do not meet the criteria for admissions to the Master’s in full; 
•    and, reflect on their personal leadership skills. 

Students on the Master’s: 
•    are committed to pursuing a 2-year course of study and completing a research dissertation; 
•    may be seeking the qualification to provide recognised credentials for career advancement;  
•    want to fully experience the entirety of the CISL learning programme; 
•    and, develop their personal leadership skills and sphere of influence as agents for change. 


Postgraduate Certificate

Two years part-time Ten months part-time
Six, separate, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge  Two, separate, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge
In-person and online learning In-person and online learning
Four written assignments: Reflective Case Study, Literature Review Essay and a Group Research Project and a Dissertation Three written assignments: Reflective Case Study, Literature Review Essay and a Group Research Project
Full Master’s Degree: 180 CATS points at level M One third of a Master’s Degree: 60 CATS points at level M

Requirements of applicants for both programmes

Besides enthusiasm and commitment, applicants must have: 

  • At least a 2.i honours bachelor’s degree (or successful completion of a Master’s degree) from a UK University, or an equivalent standard from a recognised overseas institution.* 

  • A minimum of three years' work experience in the built environment after graduation . 

  • Good ability in written and spoken English language (see further details below)  

  • Endorsement from your employer or, if independent, a demonstrated understanding of the time commitment needed to undertake part-time study at this level. 

  • Access to appropriate computer technology and internet software. 

  • The ability to pay the course fees or to identify a sponsoring institution. 

*If you have not previously studied in the UK, it is important to check your relevant country guidelines to ensure the qualifications you hold are considered suitable preparation for entry to your chosen course. Please refer to the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions website where you can look at country specific guidelines.  


Supporting documents 

Masters applicants should visit this guide for details of the supporting documents required with their application. Please use this research proposal template as part of this documentation.

For applicants that are unsure what a research proposal is or how to write one we suggest looking this up online as there are numerous resources available. 


Non-standard applicants

Exceptional candidates who do not meet the above standard academic requirements may be considered, based on the ability to demonstrate suitability for postgraduate study through professional and other attainments. 
If you think you are a non-standard applicant (i.e. you have alternative experience and qualifications), please contact us attaching a copy of your curriculum vitae, and we will give you an initial indication of whether you are likely to be considered favourably. 


Language requirement

All teaching and assessment on CISL's postgraduate-level programmes is in English. The University of Cambridge requires all applicants to demonstrate competence in the English language at a very high level before they begin their proposed course of study. Adherence to this requirement is strict.  

Applicants that are a national of a country from list A on the University’s country list are not normally required to take a language test. However, individual circumstances may lead to this being set as a condition of an offer.

Applicants who are not a national of a country from list A will likely be required to take a test and as such we recommend early investigation of test options available, including waiting list times and preparation requirements.

If applicants are required to take a test as part of their offer conditions they must meet the University’s English language requirement, currently; 

  • IELTS Academic: Overall score of 7.5 (a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component) 
  • TOEFL Internet: Overall score of 110 (a minimum of 25 in each individual component) 
  • C1 (CAE): Grade A and B (overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185) plus a Language Centre assessment 
  • C2 (CPE): Grade A, B, or C (overall score of 200 with no element lower than 185) 

It is not necessary to have met the Language requirement at the point of application, but applicants are advised to make arrangements to sit a test as soon as possible if this is applicable to them.



Please contact the Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment team for advice if you are uncertain about your eligibility or would otherwise like to discuss the application process and criteria.  


Visa requirements

Students who do not hold a UK or Irish passport will need immigration permission in order to come to the UK and study at Cambridge. Further details can be found on the University of Cambridge International Students website.  


Fees and funding 

 The course fee for the built environment programme can be found in the overview table. Bursary and scholarship funding is available for Masters candidates. For details of this and other funding options please see the bursaries and scholarships page.


Terms and conditions 

Students offered a place on the course will be asked to sign terms and conditions via an admissions agreement and/or financial undertaking form. This terms and conditions document provides some indicative terms. 


Meet the Directors webinars

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


More information

Sustainable Built Environment Courses Overview

Who should apply? 

Email the team

If you can't find the answer to your query on the website please get in touch with the team here: