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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


Am I suitable and how do I apply?

Applications for the MSt IDBE starting in 2020 have now closed.

IDBE attracts candidates from all the built environment disciplines looking to expand their understanding of global challenges and opportunities facing the industry. The programmes equip professionals for strategic decision-making, inventive problem solving and evidence-based design and provide the skills and confidence to support and lead interdisciplinary design teams.

How to apply for the IDBE Master’s Programme

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis during the application period. Applications requiring time to obtain organisational approval, visas to study, secure funding, and/or make travel or other arrangements are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

The selection process will adjudicate candidates against the above criteria. Whilst academic performance is one of the criteria that we will review in order to identify the strongest candidates, we will also consider other indicators of ability.

How to apply for the IDBE Postgraduate Certificate Programme

Everything you need to know about applying for a place on the course is available here.

Who should apply?

IDBE is for all those involved in the commissioning, design, construction and management of projects in the built environment. The course attracts 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, surveyors, urban designers, property developers and contractors, who wish to develop their understanding of and responses to the global challenges and opportunities facing the built environment.

Read testimonials from previous IDBE Master’s students

Master’s or Postgraduate Certificate?


Postgraduate Certificate

Two years part-time Nine months part-time
Six, separate, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge  Two, separate, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge
On-line learning On-line learning
Four written assignments: Reflective Case Study, Literature Review Essay and a Group Research Project and a Dissertation Three written assignments: Reflective Case Study, Literature Review Essay and a Group Research Project
Full Master’s Degree: 180 CATS points at level M One third of a Master’s Degree: 60 CATS points at level M
£10,725 per year, £21,450 in total £6,240 in total

Scholarship and bursaries for the IDBE Master’s

We have increased our funding of bursaries for 2020 Master’s entrants in response to the growing financial challenges associated with the Covid-19 crisis. We strive to enable qualified applicants to study on the IDBE and encourage all applicants with financial need to consider applying for a bursary. Bursary applications are normally restricted to individuals who are:

  • affiliated with a non-governmental organisation, SME or the public sector; or
  • self-funding; or
  • unable to attend the course without financial assistance.

Typically, bursaries range from 10 to 30 per cent of the combined graduate fee. This year, our additional funding in response to the Covid-19 crisis will allow us to provide a number of bursaries of up to 50 per cent, based on need as detailed in the bursary application statement.

Find out more about the IDBE Scholarship and bursaries

Requirements of applicants for both programmes

Besides enthusiasm and commitment, applicants must have:

  • At least a 2.i honours bachelor’s degree (or successful completion of a Master’s degree) from a UK University, or an equivalent standard from a recognised overseas institution.*
  • A minimum of three years' work experience in the built environment since graduating.
  • Good ability in written and spoken English language.**
  • Endorsement from your employer or, if independent, a demonstrated understanding of the time commitment needed to undertake part-time study at this level.
  • Access to appropriate computer technology and internet software.
  • The ability to pay the course fees or to identify a sponsoring institution.

*If you have not previously studied in the UK, it is important to check your relevant country guidelines to ensure the qualifications you hold are considered suitable preparation for entry to your chosen course. Please refer to the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions website where you can look at country specific guidelines -

**The University of Cambridge requires all master’s applicants to demonstrate competence in the English language at a very high level before they begin their proposed course of study. Adherence to this requirement is strict. You can get an indication of whether you will be required to sit a language test here. Accepted tests and the required levels are detailed under the ‘Requirements’ tab here.

It is not necessary to have met the Language requirement at the point of application, but please make arrangements to sit a test as soon as possible if this is applicable to you.

Non-standard applicants

Exceptional candidates who do not meet the above standard academic requirements may be considered, based on the ability to demonstrate suitability for postgraduate study through professional and other attainments.

If you think you are a non-standard applicant (ie you have alternative experience and qualifications), please attaching a copy of your curriculum vitae, and we will give you an initial indication of whether you are likely to be considered favourably.


Please for advice if you are uncertain about your eligibility or would otherwise like to discuss the application process and criteria.

Visa requirements

Students from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will require a short-term study visa to attend the residential workshops during the course. Further details can be found on the University of Cambridge International Students website

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Becky Stanley, Senior Project Manager