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Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment

A part-time Master's course from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Studying at Cambridge



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.

The IDBE Master’s is truly interdisciplinary, in the background of its staff, students and areas it covers. The part-time Master’s is structured around emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges within the built environment such as: sustainability and resilience, health and well-being, energy, efficiency, conservation and heritage, stakeholder engagement, and political and regulatory landscapes.

The learning approach is highly interactive and designed to encourage reflection and debate. Participants are supported by a team of expert tutors and supervisors. The speakers, lecturers and facilitators are leading experts and practitioners from both academia and industry. 

A key feature of the programme is the collaborative learning experience. The programme facilitates shared learning between peers, and networking with the extensive range of contributors, together providing a rich learning environment. 


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.

The main components of the course include:

  • Six, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge, three in the first year, and three in the second year
  • Online modules delivered via a virtual learning environment
  • Two individual essay assignments
  • A group research assignment around an area of mutual relevance
  • An individual research dissertation.

Read more about the course and who should attend

The key themes of IDBE

There are many challenges and opportunities arising from the construction and operation of our built environment. Some of these issues include global climate change, environmental, social and economic sustainability, human health and well-being, productivity and energy efficiency.

The IDBE Master’s explores how successful, sustainable built environment projects rely on the coordinated effort and visioning of multiple disciplines and professions, and it encourages the integration of skills between specialists from different background disciplines to improve project design. The course themes include:

  1. Leadership and teamwork
  2. Interdisciplinary working
  3. Global challenges and opportunities
  4. Heritage, conservation and retrofit
  5. Low carbon building design
  6. Infrastructure and transportation
  7. Housing
  8. Urban design and sustainable communities

Read more about the indicative themes of IDBE.

Building resilient cities is vital in creating a built environment fit for the future.

Visit the CISL Cities Knowledge Hub to read recent publications on sustainable cities.

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Becky Stanley, IDBE Course Administrator