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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Katherine Bruce, Peterhouse, 2016-2017

Katherine previously studied a master’s degree in chemical engineering at Heriot-Watt University. Before joining the course, she spent two years working in the UAE for an oil and gas contractor. Her role involved working for the Prelude project, currently the world’s largest offshore facility. During this time, her interest in sustainable development increased, and she joined the 2016 cohort after being awarded a scholarship from Scottish Power.  

Dissertation title:

Bio-plastic mulch film from agricultural waste: A UK case study

Students report:

Why did you do the ESD MPhil?

During my time in the oil industry, I was exposed to many unsustainable practices, including the impacts of environmental pollution. The experience fuelled a passion for using my engineering skills for positive change. I quickly realised I needed to gain more knowledge in the sustainability sector and discovered the course after researching online.

How did it help you?

The course helped me to understand how to apply sustainability principles to engineering projects. The variety of modules helped to fill gaps in my knowledge, and I left the course feeling confident in making impactful decisions. One of the most rewarding aspects of the course was the incredibly diverse group of students. We learned so much from each other, both within classes and at social events. Ultimately, the opportunity was the ideal stepping stone into a career within the sustainability industry.

What are you doing now?

After the course, I moved back to Dubai where I joined a boutique sustainability consultancy, AESG. The company’s goal is to transition the region to a more sustainable economy, through green building certifications, energy assessments and government advisory projects. One of my current primary projects involves developing a building energy and water efficiency rating system for the Emirate. Managing the views of many stakeholders has been an exciting and rewarding process.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.