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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Below are the documents you need to provide when applying. 

An application is only complete when:

  1. you have submitted your application and supporting documents via the Applicant Portal
  2. you have paid the £50 application fee
  3. your referees have provided their references.

If you miss the application deadline you will not be able to submit your application.



References are sought based on information provided on the application form.

You will need to provide the details of two referees who can provide academic or professional references. You will be asked to provide e-mail addresses for your referees so that they can submit their reference via the online referencing system.. It is important for you to ensure that your referee is able to provide a reference for you before you submit your application form.

If your referees are unable to use the online referencing system, or do not have e-mail addresses, please contact the ICE Admissions office for further assistance.

Your referees should be two senior people acquainted with your work and who are able to comment on your academic and/or professional suitability to undertake the course. Ideally one of these references will be an academic. If this is not possible, two professional references will be accepted.

The referees should describe: 

  • How long they have known you and in what capacity
  • Their opinion of your experience, achievements, professional interests, and the capabilities which you will bring to the course
  • Whether they believe you will fit well on a Master’s level course concerned with sustainability leadership and requiring interdisciplinary group work (continuous route only) and individual research
  • Whether they consider you to have the enthusiasm, commitment and determination necessary to complete the course successfully. 


Academic Transcripts  

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Academic – pre-decision category.

A transcript is a list of all the courses you have taken during a programme of study, with the result you obtained, and with the credit value if applicable.

If you are currently studying, please provide a transcript listing the courses taken during your programme of study, with the results or grades obtained for each. Current CISL students can upload their assignment grade and feedback documents available via their PCSB or PG Diploma VLE.

If you have previously completed degree-level study, please provide a transcript or degree certificate for each degree-level programme you have studied, showing the date the degree was awarded and the final class or grade obtained.

Please note that we may also ask you to send the originals via post if we make you an offer of admission and supplying these may be a condition of your offer.

If your documents are not in English, you must also upload a full translation of each document, prepared by a registered translator.


Research Proposal 

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Research Proposal category

Please include a research proposal relating to a sustainability topic aligned with the scope of the programme. It is possible for this proposal to evolve once accepted on to the programme, providing it remains aligned sufficiently. The proposal should be 500-1000 words in length, and outline the topic you wish to research, mostly during the second year of the course. We recommend using the downloadable template on our website to help you develop your proposal.

The proposal should include: 

  • A straightforward, descriptive, and informative outline of the scope of the research and what is intended to be achieved
  • An account of why this topic is relevant and worth investigating from a sustainability leadership perspective
  • A proposed main research question, which should be focused and not overly broad
  • A brief account of the approach you will take, i.e. the research design and methods
  • A discussion of the likely data sources that your research will draw upon, and how you intend to gain access
  • A short bibliography, i.e. a list of sources you have used. 

You will also be asked to provide a short summary of your proposal in your application form. 


Curriculum Vitae 

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the CV category

You are required to provide a professional CV with your application. 


Professional Qualifications 

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Qualifications/Memberships category

If you have professional qualifications or memberships relevant to your application, you may upload documentary evidence, stating the date the qualification or membership was obtained. This is not a requirement for this course, but may support your application. 


Personal Statement 

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Personal Statement category 

You will need to include an A4 paper that describes your: 

  • Existing leadership role or the potential to occupy a leadership role. 
  • Clear commitment to sustainable development demonstrated through previous qualifications, work experience or voluntary activities. 
  • Motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree focused on global sustainability challenges 

In addition, applicants to stage 3 of the flexible route should include comment on how stages 1 and/or 2 have impacted you and what you hope to gain by studying on stage 3.


Letter of Support from your Employer

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Employee Support Letter category 

The Master’s is designed for those in full-time employment, with assignments undertaken in a work-based context. If you will be in employment during your studies, please ask your employer to provide a letter stating that they support your application and understand/accept that in undertaking the course you will need time away from work to attend the residential sessions. If appropriate, an employer may want to indicate their appetite for implementing some of your learnings from the programme. 

If you are self-employed or in any other position not requiring the approval of an employer, then please provide a note signed by yourself in lieu of the letter of support from an employer. 


Writing Sample

Evidence will be required to be uploaded via “self-service” under the Writing sample category 

A writing sample is not needed for this course, unless one is requested after the application has been reviewed.

If you have any questions regarding the application portal, uploading documents, or paying the application fee, please contact ICE Admissions:


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More information 

Master's course overview

Who should apply?

Admission requirements

Funding opportunities

Learning approach and time commitment


Assignment Supervisors

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Employer benefits and information

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

Programme governance

Frequently asked questions


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