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Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE)

Part-time Master's and Postgraduate Certificate courses from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
Green City


The Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE) programmes explore the importance of building knowledge and leadership skills to drive real change through multiple professions and disciplines working together. 

The programme is available as a part-time Master’s or Postgraduate Certificate, offered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and supported by the Departments of Architecture and Engineering.


Delivering exceptional future-fit built environment projects requires the deep-skill discipline of many individuals sharing a collective vision and purpose.

Our Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment programme teaches global best practice through project-based learning, with a focus on collaboration and leadership throughout. 

It is truly interdisciplinary in the background of its staff, students and areas it covers. The Master’s and Postgraduate Certificate are 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. Students 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. 

Key components of the two built environment programmes

Postgraduate Certificate


  • Part-time 10-month course
  • Two, week long residential workshops in Cambridge
  • Online modules delivered via a virtual learning environment
  • Two individual assignments
  • A group research assignment
  • Part-time 2-year course
  • Six, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge
  • Online modules delivered via a virtual learning environment
  • Two individual assignments
  • A group research assignment
  • An individual research dissertation

The key themes of built environment programmes

The built environment is facing challenging carbon reduction targets, affecting every area of the design and construction process, across public and private works. As a result, there is phenomenal appetite for sustainability and environmental skills across every built environment role. Increasingly companies are aligning their business models and procurement processes with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With a wide range of services and disciplines contributing to the built environment sector, inefficiencies of a fragmented workplace are a key drag on construction projects. While collaboration is frequent, interdisciplinary awareness and related management skills are seldom part of standard architecture, engineering and related qualifications. High impact leadership and seamless project management are needed. The rise of smart cities and technological transformation demand a broader, more connected ‘design-thinking’ professional.

These key themes, crucial for successful built environment projects of all types, form the basis of our programmes’ core modules:

  1. Leadership, professionalism and interdisciplinary practice
  2. Sustainability & resilience
  3. Innovation & technology
  4. Design thinking
  5. Research skills

Read more about the five modules here.


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 Postgraduate Certificate is not currently accredited by these institutions.

Read more about the course and who should attend

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


Becky Stanley, Senior Project Manager