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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

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Assessment on the MSt in Sustainability Leadership is via written assignments and an oral presentation. Tutors or supervisors are allocated to support these assignments, with tutorials or supervisions taking place at workshops or virtually.

The table below summarises the assignments included in the two routes, which are intended to deliver the same learning outcomes:

Name Length (words) Continuous Route Flexible Route
Analysis Paper 3,000 1st year Stage 1
Strategic Action Plan 3,000 1st year Stage 1
Group Project 7,000 1st year Stage 1
Analytical Case Study 4,000   Stage 2
Literature Review Essay 3,000   Stage 2
Research Essay 10,000   Stage 3
Dissertation 15,000 2nd year  

 

Analysis Paper (3,000 words)


The Analysis Paper takes the form of a detailed, critical analysis of a sustainability challenge or opportunity, culminating in clear strategic recommendations for a specific organisation on what needs to be addressed.  

The sustainability challenge or opportunity should be relevant and material (important) for both the organisation and for key external stakeholders ie it should aim to contribute to positive change for sustainability beyond the organisation. There should be a ‘business case’ for responding which could include direct benefit for the organisation (eg increased resilience of market access), as long as it is also expected to result in wider social and/or environmental benefits.  

The analysis makes use of relevant conceptual frameworks and theories, supported by current thinking in the field, benchmarking and practical examples. It culminates in clear strategic recommendations for a specific organisation on what needs to be addressed. 

 

Strategic Action Plan (3,000 words)


The Strategic Action Plan is about developing a practical plan for your organisation about how to implement action in response to your particular sustainability challenge/opportunity. It starts with selecting one or more of the recommendations from the Analysis Paper and identifying a key strategic aim(s).

The plan may apply to the entire organisation or a component of the organisation (eg a business unit) and includes a level of supporting detail, including identification of key risks and mitigating factors. It is supported by a sound written rationale based on understanding the organisational and wider context, and existing literature and cases. 

 

Group Project (7,000 words)


In parallel with the individual assignments, students work in small groups of 5 to 8 to develop an original piece of research that draws upon the group’s collective experience on a sustainability topic of mutual interest. It can take the form of a research paper, or a proposed model/tool with recommendations for its use.

Whichever form the final report takes, the project must be based upon primary/original research. This means that the project work should involve collecting and/or analysing quantitative or qualitative data, and not just reviewing existing knowledge and literature. With the help of a programme Tutor, each group decides how to approach the project and then develops the ideas and content. Students must be willing to work collaboratively, share ideas generously and contribute to the fullest extent.

 

Analytical Case Study (4,000 words plus an oral presentation)


The analytical case study explores in depth a phenomenon that has happened (or is happening) ‘in situ’ to establish what can be learnt of relevance to sustainability. This may be within a student's own organisation or another.

Students are also required to deliver a virtual oral presentation on their analytical case study. This is aimed at encouraging co-learning and developing students communication and presentation skills by presenting their key findings in an engaging and accessible way.

 

Literature review essay (3,000 words)


The Literature review essay is an opportunity for students to deepen their critical analysis skills through the careful examination and re-ordering of existing academic literature, to identify and explore a knowledge gap or area of contention within the existing literature. Topics selected must be of relevance to sustainable business and/or sustainable business leadership. Students may use this assignment to further their understanding of an area or issue they are already involved in, or to explore an area of particular interest where they may have no relevant experience.

The Literature review essay is a stand-alone assignment but it is also expected to be used as the basis for the Stage 3 Research Essay assignment.

 

Dissertation (15,000 words plus an oral presentation)


Research towards a dissertation is undertaken with support and guidance from an academic supervisor. The research must follow a recognised qualitative and/or quantitative methodology, but can also take the form of applied research (eg action research). The research can address a topic of relevance to a specific organisation, or focus more generally on a sector, challenge or location. Students are encouraged to choose research topics that are practically focused and of relevance in addressing pressing key sustainability challenges. The dissertations are expected to be at the same level as would be required on a full-time Master's programme.

 

Research Essay (10,000 words plus an oral presentation)


Research towards the Research Essay stems from a previously-identified research question (normally based on the Literature Review Essay delivered in Stage 2) and is undertaken with support and guidance from an academic supervisor. The research must be conducted through a recognised qualitative and/or quantitative methodology, but can also take the form of applied research (eg action research). The research can address a topic of relevance to a specific organisation, or focus more generally on a sector, challenge, or sustainability-relevant topic. The research essays are expected to be at the same level as would be required of a dissertation on a full-time Master's programme.

 

Further information


Read about students who have published or presented on their assignment research.

Access further recent dissertation topics and their supervisors.

Strengthen your leadership skills, embed sustainability in your organisation, and further your career.

Study a part-time postgraduate course via a combination of workshops and e-modules.

 

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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 2023 applications and can answer your questions.

 

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