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    Institute for Sustainability Leadership Logo
  • Study Type

    Part time available

  • Subject Areas

  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    Part-time: 2 years

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees

    For course fees, please visit the website: website

  • Last Updated

    26 January 2018

Course content

The Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) Master of Studies is a two year, part-time [University of Cambridge] degree which attracts candidates looking to expand their understanding of global challenges and opportunities facing the industry. 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.

From structural engineers to transport planners, design managers to architects, the IDBE has enhanced the careers of built environment professionals all over the world.

Who is the course designed for?

The course is aimed at practising professionals with at least three years' work experience in the built environment. It is open to architects, engineers, and all those involved in commissioning, design, construction and management. It is offered by the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership in association with the Departments of Architecture and Engineering.

Aims of the programme

To equip professionals for strategic decision making, inventive problem solving and team leadership

To develop skills in effective collaboration and communication, particularly between clients, consultants, contractors, specialists and occupiers

To provide a strategic overview of the production of the built environment including current challenges faced by the construction industry such as technological innovation, global climate change, resilience and sustainability.

Teaching and learning

The course is part-time and lasts for two years. During that time, students spend six separate residential weeks studying in Cambridge at 3-4 month intervals, as well as taking part in an online module.

Teaching blocks

Each of the residential weeks is based around a theme, such as:


The client, the user, and the design team

Sustainable construction and climate change

Personal development, teamwork, and leadership

Conservation, retrofit, and adaptation

Innovation, new technologies, and materials

Urbanism, change, and future communities

Teaching on the course is delivered though a mix of lectures, workshops and seminars during the residential weeks. Each residential week comprises an intensive programme of formal lectures (from leading practitioners and university academics), workshops and seminars.

A design project relating to the theme of the week is undertaken in small interdisciplinary teams, which present their design proposals to reviewers at the end of each of the weeks. Through the design project students apply and implement what they have been taught, as well as benefitting from the knowledge and expertise of their team members; in this, the design projects support experiential learning.

Supervision and learning support

In preparing the four written assignments (4,000 word case study; one 3,000 word essay, one 7,000 word group project; and a 15,000 word thesis in the second year) students are supported by academic supervisors whom they meet on an individual basis.

Contact time

Lectures: 42 hours per year

Seminars and classes: 15 hours per year

Practicals: 45 hours per year

Supervision: 8 hours per year



Dissertation: 15,000 words maximum (including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography).

Essays, projects and written papers

A reflective case study: 4,000 words maximum.

One essay: 3,000 words maximum.

One group project: 7,000 words maximum.


In the six course weeks, students are asked to work in small multi-disciplinary groups to think, discuss, draw, write and persuade in order to come to a unified solution to the set problem over the course of a few half days. At the end of each week all teams present their solutions to their fellow students and a review panel of studio leaders and stakeholders.

Language requirement

IELTS Academic: Overall score of 7.5 (a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component)

TOEFL Internet: Overall score of 110 (a minimum of 25 in each individual component)

CAE: Grade A or B (with at least 193 in each individual element) plus a Language Centre assessment

CPE: Grade A, B, or C (with at least 200 in each individual element)

Sources of funding

Read about scholarship and bursary opportunities here:

For full information about the course, including the closing date and application procedure, visit the CISL website:

Visit the MSt in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!




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Recipient: University of Cambridge

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