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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge


Frequently Asked Questions - Applications

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

Application FAQ’s




How long is the course?

The formal length of the course is 11 months from the start of October to the end of August, during which time students are required by the University to be resident in Cambridge.

How many ECTS credits is the ESD MPhil worth?

The MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development has been assessed as worth 90 ECTS.

Entry Requirements

General requirements for the ESD MPhil:

 Will I have a language requriement?

I have no work experience. Can I still apply?

The course is a professional practice programme designed to take engineers from industry with some years of practical experience following graduation from a first degree. We do, however, sometimes accept fresh graduates who have a strong first degree and we consider each case carefully on merit.

I don’t have an Engineering degree. Can I still apply?

We take students with a range of backgrounds and prior experience on to the programme and so I would encourage you to apply. Each application will be considered on individual merit but first priority will be given to those with an Engineering Degree.

I don’t have the results of my Language test at this stage. Can I still apply?

Yes. If you don't have the results of your English Language test by the time you submit your application you can still apply. If you were made an offer, meeting the University’s English language requirement would be added as a condition of the offer.

Will you accept an applicant who has completed a UK Bachelor’s degree, e.g. BEng, rather than an undergraduate Master’s degree, e.g. MEng/

Our normal policy is to look for candidates who hold an MEng qualification or equivalent and some years of postgraduate experience after they have graduated from their first degree. Having said that everyone's profile is different and we consider each case carefully on merit.

Application procedure

Information about application procedure can be found on the website below:

For questions about the application process please first check the Graduate Admissions FAQ’s site:

What is the Course code for the Engineering for Sustainable Development MPhil?

The course code is EGM2

When is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications is officially the end of June but an earlier application is recommended as places are limited and the course is oversubscribed with a large number of applications each year,

If you are applying for funding then be aware that your application may need to be in MUCH EARLIER. For overseas applicants, in order to apply for funding for admission in October 17, your application must be completed, including sending in the supporting documents, by 6th December 2017 and by 4th January 2017 for EU and Home students. (US students need to apply by 11th October 17 to be eligible for Gates funding and by 6th December for other funding available)

 For more information see:



Do I need to contact the academics before applying?



Do you offer any part time or distance learning options?

No. The ESD MPhil is a full time degree only.


Can I start at any time of the year?

The MPhil starts in early October and students cannot join the course at any other time of the year.


How do I complete "Reason for Applying" section of the application form?

The Reason for applying section asks you for a short statement about why you have applied for the MPhil. When you have submitted the form you will be asked for a separate more detailed 2 page "Statement of interest" about your reasons for applying. See supporting documents information below.

How do I complete the Research section?

We don't require a formal research proposal at this stage, though you might indicate which broad area you are thinking of conducting your Masters Dissertation in. We usually begin discussing research topics after students arrive in Cambridge so a  topic and suitable supervisor have been identified by the beginning of the second Term (in January). The work is then conducted full time during the following summer from April to August, so there is plenty of time to develop your research ideas once you get here.

You do not need to put down a Supervisor.


 What supporting documents are required?


Covering letter : We expect a 2 page reflection on why you want to undertake the course, and how you see it will be useful in your future career. This can be fairly open ended, and we don't want to be too prescriptive about what you should write, though as well as referring to personal achievements you should demonstrate an empathy with sustainable development issues.

We do not require a CV or GRE scores.


How do I decide which College to apply to?

There is no one particular College that the ESD MPhil students apply to. Select a couple of colleges on your application form but bear in mind that if these Colleges do not  accept you then your application will be sent on to another College (not of your choice.) The University will guarantee to offer you a place in one of the 32 Colleges.

On the websites below they outline some of the criteria you could use in trying to make your choice. Then I would look at the individual colleges to see what they offer. See also the alternative prospectus on the student union page!

 The following thoughts may help you with your choice of college:

Be aware that the very popular and well known Colleges - Trinity, St Johns and Kings for example - receive high numbers of applicants per place and may be difficult to secure a place.

Make a decision about whether you want a large graduate oriented College (e.g. Wolfson, Darwin), a small more traditional College (e.g. Sidney Sussex, Christs, Corpus,..) or a larger, perhaps slightly less traditional, College (e.g. Churchill)

Location – some Colleges are in Central Cambridge with easy access to town whilst others are in quiet residential part of the city.

How likely is it that I will get accommodation in College?
Is there a large international community?
Is there a travel fund or any other grants?
Which Colleges have accommodation for families?
Which Colleges provide childcare bursary schemes?
Women only or mixed?
Graduate college only or mixed?
Cooking facilities?
Disabled access required?
Facilities (eg gym, sports, ents)?
Are some Colleges easier/more difficult to get into?


Can I visit the Department before making an application?

We do not offer any open days for ESD MPhil students as most of our applicants are international students and unable to travel to Cambridge before the programme starts. If you wish to visit the Department then please contact the Course Administrator to arrange a suitable time.


Information about fee structure:


How do I apply for the funding from the Cambridge Scholarships?

If you decide to complete the graduate application form, make sure you fill out section B and you will be included in all the Cambridge funding competitions that are applicable to you. For overseas applicants, in order to apply for funding for admission in October 17, your application must be completed, including sending in the supporting documents, by 7th December 2015 and by 4th January for EU and Home students. US applicants must have submitted their application and supporting documents by 12th October 16 for Gates funding and 7th December for other Trusts funding.

 Another good place to look for possible funding available at Cambridge is the Gradfunds directory:


Is there any Department funding for the ESD MPhil?

 The Department of Engineering and the Centre for Sustainable Development are not able to provide any funding for ESD MPhil students.

 For more information about funding see:


Am I able to work during my studies to supplement my income?

 Cambridge has a strict policy on students working whilst they are a student. Students are not able to work as a research assistant to fund their studies. Students on one-year courses are not allowed to undertake any type of paid work during their period of study.

For further information see:



What Next?


When will I hear if my application has been successful?

 You will receive an email from the Course Team with our recommendation of an offer or rejection normally within 2 weeks of receiving your application and all supporting documents. At busy times, e.g. start of term, funding competitions, Holidays etc., there may be a delay but we will endeavour to contact you as soon as we can.

 When will I receive an official response from the University?


Our recommendation is then considered by the Department, Degree Committee and the final decision will be made by Student Admissions on behalf of the University. It can take a few weeks to receive official documents so please be patient.

ATAS Certificates: If you are an overseas students you will require an ATAS certificate before you make your Tier 4 visa application. We recommend that you apply for this early. Follow the guidelines carefully and use the wording provided by the University. Do not add any other wording!

For more information about ATAS see:

I have just missed passing the English Test by a small margin. Can I be referred to the Language Centre to be assessed?


No. We require all ESD MPhil students to pass the English tests at the required level. The minimum scores required are essential for anyone pursuing the course as the pace and level of the teaching, and the high standards of the coursework mean that anyone with less than these scores would not thrive on the MPhil. The standard is imposed for the benefit of the student, and we are not willing therefore to vary or relax this requirement.

Can I change my College preferences once an offer has been made?

Will I be able to apply for a PhD after the MPhil?

 We only consider applications for the 1 year MPhil with no commitment to you staying on for a PhD afterwards.

 The ESD MPhil is essentially a professional practice programme and is not set up to feed students into PhD’s. ESD MPhil Students can, and do, apply to do a PhD at Cambridge once they are here but that is entirely a separate process. Many of our MPhil students have gone on to successfully complete PhD’s in Cambridge and elsewhere.


Am I allowed to work with a company for my Dissertation?

We don't arrange official internships or industrial placements, but students may work with a company and if that requires the student to be located with the company at their offices for a short period to facilitate data collection etc then that is possible. Strictly they need to remain in Cambridge for the duration of their Dissertation and provide strong reasons why they need to work away.


Can research for my Dissertation be conducted away from Cambridge?

Students are required to be resident in Cambridge for the duration of the MPhil. However, where fieldwork is required to collect essential data an application to work away can be made with the support of the Dissertation Supervisor.

When can I take holidays from the course?

We do not schedule any activities into the two weeks period around Christmas and Easter. Students may be expected to participate in formal course activities at all other times of the year.

Do you have internships available?

I'm afraid we don’t have the capacity or funding to take on interns.



Key Themes of the Course


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.