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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

MSt simulation

“The programme has been invaluable in so many ways – developing a baseline of sustainability knowledge, the international network of likeminded sustainability professionals, the unforgettable experience – all with the view of all with the view of helping me transition my career towards sustainability and responsible investing.”

Michael van Niekerk, Peakview Strategy

Key components

The course is delivered part-time over two years. The programme is structured around course modules, delivered through a combination of residential workshops, online learning, and remote working:

  • Four residential workshops* (each 7 days long) in Cambridge**. See here for workshop dates. Each workshop examines three of the course modules through face-to-face learning opportunities
  • A programme of online learning combining thematic E-units and interactive activities via a virtual learning environment (VLE) between the residential workshops to support the face-to-face learning
  • Four longer self-paced E-modules
  • Two individual work-based assignments
  • A group project around an area of mutual relevance
  • An individual research dissertation.

*Alumni of the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business are able to choose whether they attend the first residential workshop

** Under normal circumstances, it is compulsory to attend workshops in-person in Cambridge; however, if this is not possible due to verifiable COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, then online participation will be accommodated until the end of 2022. If it becomes necessary due to pandemic-related requirements mandated by the UK government and/or University, all or part of workshops may be delivered fully online. Full participation during core hours (typically 09.30 – 16.00 UK time) is still compulsory. CISL is well equipped to deliver dynamic and engaging workshops remotely, should the situation demand.



Time commitment

In addition to attending the residential workshops, it is estimated that to complete the programme successfully students will need to spend the equivalent of 1 day per week (8 hours) on directed learning, independent study, reading, accessing one-to-one support, and completing work for assessment. Students admitted to the programme are also expected to be in a position to undertake personal reflection, apply the learning in practice and/or gain relevant practical experience related to the themes of the programme for at least 1 day per week. This is an average across the two years of the programme for a typical student, and variations in individual approaches to scheduling and learning can result in weeks where the workload may be heavier or lighter.  Students are provided with all substantive tasks and deadlines at the start of the programme, so they can plan in advance in order to help spread the work evenly across the two years.


Learning approach

mst learning journey

As an applied, practitioner-oriented Master's, the programme is designed to support personal and professional development. This is reflected in the content, which includes developing a robust business case for sustainability, a focus on sustainability leadership aims and responses, and change management.

The learning approach is highly interactive, collaborative and designed to encourage reflection and debate. The programme facilitates shared learning between peers, benchmarking against other organisations, and networking with the extensive range of contributors, together providing a rich learning environment.

The learning journey also supports extensive feedback and assignments that are focused on professional or institutional contexts. Participants are supported by a team of expert tutors and supervisors. The speakers, lecturers and facilitators are leading experts and practitioners from academia, business government and civil society. 


Virtual learning

Virtual learning is an important part of the programme experience, providing opportunities for students to learn from each other as they engage with the latest sustainability thinking, applied to critical business issues.

Between the residential workshops, students participate in a regular e-learning programme and other non-residential learning activities, designed to complement the workshop themes and support students’ learning journey. This includes:

  • Virtual tutorials and supervisions to support the assignments and dissertation process
  • Four self-paced E-modules
  • Working through monthly thematic E-units addressing the course modules, including preparatory readings/ videos/ audios in advance of the workshops.
  • Participating in online forum discussions and webinars, approximately every month between the workshops
  • Contributing to a personal blog about a sustainability-related personal leadership opportunity.

The e-learning programme is supported by a dedicated online tutor.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is the main platform through which these activities are facilitated. The VLE also provides an avenue for communications between the participants and the Programme team, and to make available supplementary material, such as slides used by presenters and links to useful websites, articles, and other resources. The VLE has been developed using Moodle. This robust and user-friendly open-source software is widely used by providers of online learning, including the UK’s Open University.

The Master's in Sustainability Leadership VLE can be accessed via the internet using a standard internet browser. (A username and password is required to enter the site.)

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

Blog: First-class postgraduate education in a Covid-19 world


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.


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