University of Cambridge logo
  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: $ 10.4k
  • Foreign: $ 20.9k
  • Deadline:
  • 30 6월 2017
  • StudyQA ranking:
  • 248pts.
  • Duration:
  • 2 years

    Photos of university

    Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) is a two-year part-time Master's course for built environment professionals, offered by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and supported by the Departments of Architecture and Engineering. It is structured around emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges within the built environment such as building information modelling and low carbon energy and materials, political and regulatory changes.

    The IDBE is the oldest part-time Master's course at the University of Cambridge and is unique in many ways. It is truly interdisciplinary, in the background of its staff, students and areas it covers.

    The learning approach is highly interactive and designed to encourage reflection and debate. Participants are supported by a team of expert tutors and supervisors. The speakers, lecturers and facilitators are leading experts and practitioners from both academia and industry. 

    A key feature of the programme is the collaborative learning experience. The programme facilitates shared learning between peers, and networking with the extensive range of contributors, together providing a rich learning environment. 

    The main components of the course include:

    • Six, week-long residential workshops in Cambridge, three in the first year, and three in the second year
    • Online modules delivered via a virtual learning environment
    • Two individual essay assignments
    • A group research assignment around an area of mutual relevance
    • An individual research dissertation.

    You will be exposed to a great range of new concepts, ideas and knowledge during the two years of the course.

    The ways in which these are supported and presented include:

    • Technical lectures on specific aspects of the individual themes of the course, presented by some of the foremost thought leaders from academia and industry.
    • ‘Horizon’ lectures on wider interdisciplinary ideas; recent lectures include ‘The structure of Bach’s Fugues’ by Dr Martin Ennis, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Music; ‘How animals move’ by Dr David Bainbridge, the University Clinical Veterinary Anatomist; and ‘Maths, geometry, nudity and art’ by Allan McRobie, Reader in the Department of Engineering.
    • Workshops and lectures helping you to progress your critical analysis, and research and writing skills.
    • Online modules to develop teamwork, leadership and research skills.
    • Focused learning and exercises on teamwork, including understanding individual learning styles, personality types and roles.
    • Design projects in small teams focusing on a specific problem related to the week’s theme; co-producing knowledge and supporting the development of an understanding of different disciplinary cultures.
    • Presentations of the studio projects and of each individual case-study assignment to a supportive and interested audience of your peers.
    • Written assignments, based on your own pressing questions, and supported through access to the best academic libraries in the world.
    • Individual ‘supervisions’ (the Cambridge word for tutorials) with academic advisors providing expert support for your research.
    • Detailed individual written feedback on your assignments and presentations to help you develop as a reflective practitioner.

    The development of both written and verbal presentation skills is an essential element of the course, critical to professional success, and one which is widely appreciated by our alumni. Whatever your level of ability to start with, the unique learning style of the course will support your individual development and growth.

    During each residential week you will be asked to work in small multidisciplinary groups. Together you will need to think, discuss, draw, write and persuade in order to come to a unified solution to the set problem. At the end of each week all teams present their solutions to their fellow students, and a review panel of studio leaders and stakeholders.  

    During the first academic year of the IDBE, participants undertake two individual assignments and a group project. In the second academic year a research dissertation must be completed.

    Individual assignments

    Participants complete two individual assignments of relevance to their professional settings, namely:

    Reflective case study

    This 4,000-word essay reflects on the detail of a project you have personally been involved in. Students are asked to consider an element of interdisciplinary design within the project that went particularly well, or particularly poorly; why this may have happened, and what lessons can be learnt from the experience. This is considered against relevant conceptual frameworks and theories, supported by current thinking in the field and practical examples. This essay forms the basis for an individual presentation made during one of the residential weeks during the course.

    Literature review essay

    This 3,000-word essay is designed to support your developing research and writing skills, focusing on conducting a literature review using academic references.

    Group project

    In parallel with the individual assignments, participants work in small groups of 5–6 to develop an original piece of thinking on a topic of mutual interest. It can take the form of a research paper, or a proposed model/tool with recommendations for its use. With the help of an expert tutor, each group decides how to approach the project and then develops the ideas and content so that it draws on the collective experience of the group members. Participants must be willing to work collaboratively, share ideas generously and contribute to the fullest extent.


    Research towards a dissertation is undertaken with support and guidance from an academic supervisor. The research must follow a recognised qualitative and/or quantitative methodology, but can also take the form of applied research (eg action research). The research can address a topic of relevance to a specific organisation, or focus more generally on a challenge or location.

    Participants are encouraged to choose research topics that are: practically focused; cross traditional disciplinary boundaries; and/or address a key social, economic, or environmental challenge in the built environment. The dissertations are expected to be at the same level as would be required on a full-time Master's programme.

    Potential areas for research include, but is not limited to, the following:

    •    Sustainability 
    •    Design and design practice
    •    Heritage and conservation
    •    Innovation & technology
    •    Policy and regulation
    •    Retrofit
    •    Urbanism and urban design

    UK requirements for international applications

    Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

    Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

    All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.


    • At least a 2.i honours bachelor’s degree (or successful completion of a Master’s degree) from a UK University, or an equivalent standard from a recognised overseas institution.
    • A minimum of three years' work experience.
    • Good ability in written and spoken English language.
    • Endorsement from your employer or, if independent, a demonstrated understanding of the time commitment needed to undertake part-time study at this level.
    • Access to appropriate computer technology and internet software.
    • The ability to pay the course fees or to identify a sponsoring institution.
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