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Course content

The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains (PCSVC) is a Master's-level graduate programme from the University of Cambridge. It equips senior and mid-career professionals and managers with the relevant skills required to establish resilient and sustainable value chains / supply chains that are fit for the future.

Visit the website: http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/component/courses/?view=course&cid=16062

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.


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;
- Two residential workshops, one held in the summer and the other in the autumn, with academic and practitioner inputs on key issues;
- 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 opportunities and the business case for responding

- Systems, pressures and trends
- Sustainability risks and opportunities
- Understanding value chains
- Business case for sustainable value chains
- Critique of existing tools and techniques
- Taking a systems approach
- Leadership for sustainability

Workshop 2: Catalysing change within and beyond the organisation

- Sustainable value creation
- Business model innovation
- Internal engagement and influence
- External engagement, communication and partnerships
- Sustainable consumption and influencing the consumer
- Leadership for sustainability


Analysis paper, 3000 words
Strategic action plan, 3000 words
Group project, 7,000 words

Each assignment contributes one third to the final overall grade.


PCSVC 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.

Alumni of PCSVC who are admitted on to the Master's may be exempt from attending the first Master's workshop (although they are welcome to join for the week), and undertaking the first-year assignments. If exemption is granted, the fee payable is reduced.

It is not necessary to complete the Postgraduate Certificate prior to applying for the Master’s. Furthermore, while completing the PCSVC 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


Bursary funding is available for deserving candidates who are currently prevented from applying due to financial reasons. These will offer financial support of 25-30% of the programme fee, and in some exceptional cases up to 50% of the programme fee, to assist selected applicants

Visit the Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Value Chains page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!






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Recipient: University of Cambridge

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