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Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment

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

Studying at Cambridge


History of the IDBE

How the course started

The IDBE course has its origins in the Madingley Seminar, an initiative of the Ove Arup Foundation held in 1991 to discuss the education of professionals working in the built environment. With generous financial support from the Foundation, the course was established and the first cohort of students arrived in 1994.

The IDBE course is the oldest part-time Masters course at the University – there are now many others in different areas, a number of which have followed the IDBE’s formula.


In 2014 the IDBE celebrated its 20th anniversary, with a panel discussion focusing on whether we have become more interdisciplinary over the last 20 years, and where we should go from here. 

Our panellists were: representing the professions, Sunand Prasad, past President of the RIBA; representing the industry, Sophie Le Bourva, Arup Associate and alumna from the second IDBE cohort; and representing academia and training, Professor Peter Guthrie, Professor of Sustainable Development at Cambridge.

The lively audience included past and present course staff, tutors and associates, alumni and members of the management committee.


Sunand Prasad, Senior partner of Penoyre & Prasad and President of the RIBA from 2007–2009


Sophie Le Bourva, Associate Director at Arup and alumna of the course


Peter Guthrie, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering