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Master of Studies in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE)

Duration and location

Two years, part-time. A combination of six, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge and online learning.

Combined graduate fee

£10,308 per year (£20,616 total) which includes college membership and tuition fees. This does not include accommodation and meals, but you will benefit from reduced rates at Wolfson College.

Entry requirements

• At least a 2.1 honours degree from a UK University or an equivalent standard from an overseas institution
• A minimum of three years' work experience in the built environment after graduation
• Good ability in written and spoken English language to the required University standard

Applications for the 2019 IDBE courses are open. Apply for the IDBE Master’s or the IDBE Postgraduate Certificate


About the IDBE Master's

The Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) is a two-year part-time Master's course for built environment professionals, offered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and supported by the Departments of Architecture and Engineering. It is structured around emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges within the built environment such as: sustainability and resilience, health, low carbon energy, conservation and heritage, stake holder engagement, and political and regulatory landscapes.

Through the Master’s, we develop leaders who can: understand the key challenges facing the industry and society; use their communication and team working skills to enable positive collaboration; and utilise their design skills to help shape desirable, resilient and future-fit projects.

The programme equips professionals for strategic decision-making, inventive problem solving and evidence-based design and provides the skills and confidence to support and lead interdisciplinary design teams.

Visit the IDBE website to discover how previous IDBE graduates have used the course to accelerate their career.

For further information about the IDBE Master’s and new IDBE Postgraduate Certificate, please download our brochure and programme flyers.

Find out more about course fees, and how to apply.


Who should attend?

IDBE is for all those involved in the commissioning, design, construction and management of projects in the built environment. It attracts highly motivated students from a range of professions from across the sector including, but not limited to architects, engineers, surveyors, planners, landscape architects, project managers, facility managers, building economists, urban designers, property developers and contractors, who wish to develop their understanding of the global challenges and opportunities facing the built environment.

From its inception, the Master’s has successfully encouraged and supported the integration of skills between specialists from different background disciplines to improve project design. This includes the collaboration between disciplines, as well as with clients and the supply side of the industry. The course focuses on how the broader strategic contextual understanding of places and projects can be engaged through an interdisciplinary design process.


Towards a sustainable built environment: what will I learn?

The IDBE Master’s is delivered through six residential weeks and online learning modules.

In the first residential week, students are introduced to topics that will continue to be explored throughout the course. Topics include global challenges and opportunities, interdisciplinary working, the relationship between the client and the design team, and the responsibility of the design team to the end user and society.

These form the foundation for the learning modules which are delivered across the two year course: sustainability and resilience; innovation and technology; leadership, team working and interdisciplinary practice; design thinking; and research skills.

The subsequent five residential weeks apply the core modules to spotlight elements of the built environment. Delivered through lectures, studio design projects and group work the themes covered include;

  • Heritage, conservation and retrofit
  • Low carbon building design
  • Infrastructure and transportation
  • Housing
  • Cities, urban design and sustainable communities

IDBE students are supported in their research assignments through dedicated individual supervisions. They receive lectures and support on research skills, academic research and writing throughout the course, and also undertake an online module on leadership and team working.

Students will also develop a network of cross-disciplinary, international, and like-minded professionals from previous IDBE cohorts as well as joining the CISL Network of nearly 8,000 sustainability professionals who represent business, the public sector and civil society in every industry and on every continent. 

Find out more about the course content, tutors and supervisors and examples of previous dissertations.


Why should I attend?

The Master’s is accredited by the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Highway Engineers and the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation as meeting the requirements for further learning and by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors under their project management pathway.

IDBE has been instrumental in progressing alumni in their careers. Through expanding their knowledge of built environment issues, gaining confidence in facilitating interdisciplinary teams and communicating across disciplines, and growing their professional network, our graduates credit the Master’s with helping them to advance both professionally and personally.

Read testimonials from previous Master's students.


Interested in CISL’s work on resilient cities?

Visit the Cities Knowledge Hub for relevant case studies, publications and reports.

Learn to lead and collaborate with interdisciplinary teams, and help to shape a future-fit built environment.

More information

Visit the IDBE website for more information about the IDBE Master’s and new IDBE Postgraduate Certificate, and to discover how previous IDBE graduates have used the course to accelerate their career.

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Learn more about our graduate offering from our Course Directors. Held monthly, August 2018 – May 2019. Register today.

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“IDBE gave me a greater appreciation, and understanding, of different built-environment agendas that allowed me to be far more influential in the boardroom and in more complex interdisciplinary project situations”

Jason Pomeroy, Architect, academic and broadcaster IDBE Cohort 10

“IDBE exceeded all of my expectations from an academic and personal perspective. My appreciation of the breadth and complexity of the built environment profession grew enormously… Students are exposed to an array of leading industry figures and we are constantly engaging in stimulating discussion both in and away from the classes and studios with guest lecturers, fellow students, supervisors and members of the wider University community.”

Helene Gosden, Senior Engineer, Arup Cohort IDBE 20

“IDBE is an incredible powerful and transformative course. Learning from professionals from a variety of backgrounds was invaluable. In addition, combining real-life experiences, meaningful projects and a networking environment provided me with an edge in a highly competitive industry.”

Seun Adekunbi, Infrastructure Management Consultant Cohort IDBE 17

2019 intake Workshop dates

Workshop 1: 8-14 September 2019
Workshop 2: 8-14 December 2019
Workshop 3: 15-21 March 2020
Workshops 4, 5 & 6: dates tbc

2018 intake workshop dates

Workshop 1: 09-15 September 2018
Workshop 2: 09-15 December 2018
Workshop 3: 24-30 March 2019
Workshop 4: 08-14 December 2019
Workshop 5: 15-21 March 2020
Workshop 6: 21-27 June 2020