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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 accredited programme from the University of Cambridge. Designed for senior and mid-career professionals, it is a flexible, practically-applied option for continued professional development, exploring innovations in sustainable business. This course is part of CISL’s mission to empower individuals and organisations to take leadership to tackle critical global challenges.

More specifically, it aims to provide an academically grounded, highly participatory and applied forum for learning around topical sustainability issues, to help professionals develop:

  • a strong foundation in wider global social, environmental and economic trends, and the strategic business case for change
  • the knowledge, skills and confidence to critically engage with a range of strategies and tools for practical action
  • an on-going capacity to work with others to co-create solutions to complex problems, and contribute to a wider community of learning and practice.

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.

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.


The course compromises of two parts:

Part 1 consists of completing one of the Postgraduate Certificates in Sustainable Business (PCSB) or Sustainable Value Chains (PCSVC). Following successful completion of one of the Postgraduate Certificates, participants move to the individually tailored PG Dip Part 2.

Please visit our website for details of part two.

Aims of the programme

Participants successfully completing the programme will:

  • Gain a Postgraduate Diploma 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.


The Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Business is completed in two parts, with the second part offering considerable flexibility and choice. Part 1 lasts 10 months (part-time) and students complete with the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business or the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains

Part 2 is completed in 6 months – 3 years depending on the student’s circumstances.

During PG Dip Part 1 participants will:

  • Attend two four-day residential workshops in Cambridge
  • Engage in a range of structured e-learning, reading and reflection, in preparation for the residential workshops
  • Undertake two individual practical assignments based on applying learning in their own organisational context
  • Complete a group project with a small group of 5-8 participants, supported by a programme tutor. Groups work on their projects at and between workshops, and an online platform is provided to aid collaboration.
  • Co-operate with fellow participants, share ideas generously and contribute to the fullest extent.

Having successfully completed the PG Dip Part1, participants will move to the PG Dip Part 2, during which they will:

  • Attend three two-day Sustainability Leadership Laboratories of their choice, according to business relevance or area of interest. The Sustainability Leadership Laboratories take place in Cambridge at least four times per year and are currently delivered under the following four broad themes: Operationalising Sustainability, Sustainability Leadership, Sustainable Innovation and Sustainable Finance.
  • Attend two half-day supervisions to meet their Director of Studies and assignment Supervisors. These take place in Cambridge on days adjacent to the Sustainability Leadership Laboratories.
  • Engage in self-study preparatory readings, webinars and an e-learning module.



  • Complete two individual assignments – an analytical case study and a thought leadership essay.
  • Host an interactive webinar on a theme of relevance to sustainability leadership.


The department are currently exploring with the University of Cambridge the possibility of Diploma students continuing their study on to a Master’s degree.

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




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