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MSt in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment

Course Description

The Master of Studies (MSt) in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) is a transformative part-time Master's course at the University of Cambridge, for global practitioners working in the built environment.

Intensive, themed residential weeks deliver a bespoke learning experience, which develops individual and professional skills in multidisciplinary teamwork, the design process and individual research. For 20 years the course has been equipping our graduates with enhanced skills, knowledge and professional networks to solve the challenges facing our industry by becoming innovative, dynamic and successful leaders.

The MSt in IDBE is accredited as a Master's for further learning by:
- The Joint Board of Moderators (Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Structural Engineers, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, Institute of Highway Engineers)
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- The Chartered Insitution of Building Services Engineers
- The Royal Institute of British Architects Advanced CPD

See the website http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/mst-idbe

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 jointly by 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 seven separate residential weeks studying in Cambridge at 3-4 month intervals.

Teaching blocks
Each of the residential weeks is based around a theme, such as:
- Interdisciplinarity
- 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 individual written assignments, students are supported by academic supervisors whom they meet on an individual basis. The assignments are progressive in that they help to build the capacity to write clearly and concisely, to reflect on experience, to undertake a formal literature review on a given topic, to frame research questions, to conduct an investigation involving the collection and analysis of data, and to draw evidence-based conclusions.

Contact time

- Lectures: 42 hours per year
- Seminars and classes: 15 hours per year
- Practicals: 45 hours per year
- Supervision: 8 hours per year


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

- Essays, projects and written papers
A reflective project study: 5,000 words maximum.
Two essays: 3,000 words maximum each, designed to support students' developing research and writing skills. The first focuses on conducting a literature review using academic references, and the second requires you to design and structure a ‘mini thesis’ involving some small individual research project.

- Practical
In six of the seven 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.

- Other
Each student does a presentation on their case study (the first written assignment) to their fellow students and the Course Directors.
Students are given formal feedback on their assignments and informal feedback throughout their course, including during supervisions. Supervisions also result in an annual progress report at the end of year 1 and termly reports during year 2.

See the website http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/mst-idbe

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

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course will normally have achieved a UK 2.i honours degree or overseas equivalent. In addition to the academic entrance requirement, applicants need to have at least three years of professional experience in the built environment since graduating.

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