MSt in Sustainability Leadership

The Master of Studies (MSt) in Sustainability Leadership is an interdisciplinary postgraduate degree that explores leadership responses to sustainability challenges and opportunities. This programme is accredited by the University of Cambridge and delivered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

The MSt is offered in association with the Departments of Architecture, Engineering, Geography, Land Economy and the Judge Business School. Both academic excellence and leadership on sustainability are prioritised in the competitive selection process, and in the design and delivery of the programme.

The MSt typically attracts candidates who wish to formalise their credentials as sustainability professionals, advisers or consultants. We are also the first choice for mainstream business leaders seeking to gain a better understanding of sustainability risks and opportunities and how to respond to these. We likewise appeal to leaders from the not-for-profit or public sectors who wish to work together with the private sector to address sustainability challenges.

Aims of the programme

  • To develop leaders who have a wide awareness and deep understanding of the social, environmental, ethical and economic challenges facing the world, and equip them to respond more effectively in their executive roles.
  • To expose leaders and future leaders to a range of best-practice cases of how business, government and civil society are responding to these challenges.
  • To help leaders to make a compelling ‘business case’ for sustainability in their sector and/or institutional context, and understand how best to put sustainability policies into practice.
  • To give leaders insights into the academic debate on sustainability, including some of the key scientific and technological issues, and equip them with research skills relevant to sustainability.

Teaching and learning

The primary approaches to teaching and learning are:

  • taught sessions by academics and practitioners, who are thought-leaders and/or case study illustrators
  • group work, involving dialogue, debate and presentations throughout the taught modules, as well as a group research assignment
  • individual work, involving research and written presentation of findings on selected topics
  • support and facilitation by a CISL-led team of faculty, tutors and supervisors from within the University
  • intensive and collaborative e-learning programmes, including e-modules, online webinars and content-based discussions to maximize knowledge sharing.

Contact time

  • Lectures: 35 hours per year
  • Seminars and classes: 50 hours per year
  • Small group teaching: 26 hours per year
  • Supervision: 7 hours per year



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

Essays, projects and written papers

  • An analysis paper of 3,000 words maximum
  • A strategy paper of 3,000 words maximum
  • A group project of 5,000-7,000 words

Some assignments and the dissertation require literature reviews. The dissertation also involves an oral presentation.

Examples of previous dissertation topics, articles produced based on dissertation research undertaken during the Master's programme, and example group project topics are available on the CISL website.


Students are given formal feedback on their assignment and informal feedback throughout their course, including during supervisions. First year tutors give an annual progress report at the end of year 1 and dissertation supervisors provide termly reports during year 2.

Entry requirements

Expected academic standard

Applicants are assessed and accepted on the basis that they have:

  1. At least a 2.i honours degree* from a UK university or an equivalent standard from an overseas institution
  2. A minimum of three years' work experience
  3. Demonstrable enthusiasm and/or aptitude for sustainability leadership
  4. Good ability in written and spoken English language
  5. Endorsement from your employer or, if independent, from an organisation that will be the focus of your work on the programme
  6. Access to appropriate computer technology and internet software
  7. The ability to pay the course fees or to identify a sponsoring institution

* Exceptional applicants who do not meet the standard admission criteria of a 2.i honours degree will be assessed on an individual basis and may be required to provide further materials in support of their application.

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)

Supporting documents

You will be required to provide the following supporting documents as part of your application. Please see below for details.

Fees and funding

The fees for 2017 will be £11,571 per annum for Home/EU students and £11,733 for overseas students. The combined graduate fee includes college membership.

Students will be expected to cover the application fee (£50 online) and any costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence during residential sessions in Cambridge. Fields trips, gala dinners, matriculation and other group photos are optional additional costs.

Small grants for research and travel costs may be available from CISL's Graduate Programmes Bursary Fund and the Mentis Cleantech Futures Bursary. Please see the CISL website for more information.

Sources of government funding and financial support - including Professional and Career Development Loans

How to apply

Applications will be accepted online from 13 September 2016 until 30 March 2017.

Read the MSt Application Guide to find out more about the application process and what you need to do and consider as a potential applicant. See below for details of the supporting documents you will need to provide when applying for this course.

Apply online when you are ready to start the application process.

Find out more

View full information about the course - on the CISL website.

If you have any questions about the application process, contact our Admissions team: or +44 (0)1223 746262.

For all other enquiries, contact the Programme Manager, Fergus Kirkpatrick: or +44 (0)1223 768816.


pdf Supporting documents required for application

Pre-enrolment information

Information about studying with ICE

Apply online now

To book on this course you can either book online or contact us directly:

Write to us

Fergus Kirkpatrick
Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
1 Trumpington Street
United Kingdom

Call us

+44 (0)1223 768816

Email us

Venue information

If you need particular information about this location please contact our Registration team at or on 01223 746262

Course details

Start date

1 October 2017

End date

To be confirmed

Application deadline

30 March 2017

Course code



2 years


Various locations
United Kingdom

Course fee

Home/EU: £23,142.00
Overseas: £23,466.00

Qualifications / Credits

Master of Studies