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Course content

Note that this course is delivered by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business (PCSB) is a Master's-level graduate programme from the University of Cambridge. It equips senior and mid-career professionals and managers with the relevant skillsets to integrate sustainability thinking into business actions.

PCSB is widely regarded as one of the leading Master's-level programmes internationally for individuals who are seeking to enhance their ability to lead and influence change for sustainability, whilst also gaining an academic award.

The programme attracts strong, international cohorts of senior and mid-career professionals, predominantly from business. Because of this, PCSB alumni benefit from the world-class peer networking opportunities that the programme provides.

The programme spans a 9-month period (part-time) and is built around three short residential workshops, individual work-based assignments, and a group research project around an area of mutual relevance.

Visit the website: http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/component/courses/?view=course&cid=16032

About the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), an institute within the School of Technology, has run executive development programmes in sustainability for 25 years, with open programmes in the UK, Europe, North America, South America, South Africa and Australia, and customised programmes for many leading organisations.

Who is the course designed for?

The course has been designed for current and future leaders working in organisations that recognise the importance of sustainable development, and are committed to sharing their knowledge/experience and learning from others. It is an award of the University of Cambridge, and equivalent to one third of a Master’s degree.

It is assumed that participants will have a reasonably good general knowledge of some of the issues dealt with during the programme. However, it is not essential to have specialised knowledge, and it is not assumed that participants have direct responsibility for sustainability or related areas, such as CSR or environmental affairs.

Aims of the programme

Participants successfully completing the programme will:

- Gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business accredited by the University of Cambridge;
- Deepen their understanding of how sustainability issues impact on their sector, their organisation and their role;
- Develop the means to articulate the business case for sustainability, whilst balancing stakeholders' needs
- Analyse global business challenges, responses and organisational change;
- Build confidence to discuss emerging trends and issues which affect the business agenda with senior colleagues;
- Explore best practice and learn collaboratively with other professionals with different perspectives and experts in the field;
- Enhance their skills and experience in embedding sustainability in mainstream business operations and driving organisational change
- Become a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Network, which includes over 5,000 CISL alumni, faculty and contributors from around the world, who are leading the way in turning sustainability thinking into practice.

Students who complete the Postgraduate Certificate can then go on to complete the Postgraduate /diploma. The details of the Diploma are on the following website: http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/graduate-study/postgraduate-diploma-in-sustainable-business/pgdip-in-detail


In recognition of the practical challenges of participants undertaking study whilst holding down a full-time job, the programme does not require prolonged periods away from the workplace. Besides the short residential workshops, the core of the programme is an individual piece of work-related research and the development of a strategic action plan that is relevant to the participant's organisation.

A group project helps to ensure that as much inter-organisational learning takes place as possible. An online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) facilitates communication and collaboration between the short, intensive workshops.

The course runs for nine months and encompasses the following key elements:

- A three-week preparatory phase;
- Three residential workshops;
- Ongoing virtual and non-residential learning activities, including preparatory materials (readings / videos / audios) in advance of the residential workshops;
- Two individual assignments and a collaborative research project;
- Support and facilitation from a team of programme tutors;
- Informal and formal collaboration with fellow participants via email, teleconferences, face-to-face meetings, and the VLE.

In addition to attending the workshops, it is estimated that participants need to undertake at least 3–4 hours of work every week to complete the programme successfully.

Lectures: 40 hours
Seminars and classes: 4 hours
Small-group teaching: 6 hours
Supervision: 6 hours


Workshop 1: Understanding the challenges and developing the business case

- Environmental, social and economic pressures and drivers
- Sustainable development concepts and frameworks
- Developing a critical and analytical mind
- Building the business case for sustainability
- Identifying risks and opportunities

Workshop 2: Catalysing change beyond the organisation

- Systems thinking
- Sustainable production and consumption
- Design and technology policy, standards and regulations
- Finance, investment and enterprise

Workshop 3: Taking action: implementation and driving change

- Sustainability as core business strategy
- Culture and governance
- Embedding and integration
- Resourcing and skills development
- Influencing and communication
- Leadership and ethics


During the course students complete the following business-relevant assignments, each contributing one third to the final mark:

- Analysis paper, 3,000 words
- Strategic action plan, 3,000 words
- Group Project, 7,000 words


PCSB is the equivalent to the first third of the Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership programme. The topics covered correspond with those taught during the first Master's workshop and the assignments undertaken are similar to those completed in the first year of the Master's programme.

It is not necessary to complete a Postgraduate Certificate prior to applying for the Master’s. Furthermore, while completing a PCSB successfully may strengthen applications to the Master’s, it does not result in preferential access or negate the need to satisfy the Master’s-specific admissions requirements.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Visit the PG Cert / PG Dip Sustainable Business page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!





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