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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Ceridwen Salisbury, Murray Edwards College, 2015/6


Following an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, I worked for a year and a half in Cape Town at a large civil engineering consultancy. Most of the projects on which I worked had to do with water resource planning and strategy, and took place in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent.

Dissertation title:

A Real Options Approach to Balancing Blue-Green and Grey Urban Drainage Solutions

Students report:

Why did you do the ESD MPhil?

Much of the work I was doing before highlighted the need for sustainable solutions and an holistic approach to engineering problems. In my research into possible Master’s degrees the ESD MPhil leapt out as having the kind of approach, and offering the kind of courses I was interested in.

How did it help you?

The course answered a lot of the questions about sustainability that I had had before, as well as introducing me to a whole range of concepts and approaches of which I had never been aware. As I hoped, it provided a broader base than the merely technical, and gave me opportunities to investigate aspects of sustainability that I would not otherwise have had.

What are you doing now?

In the course of my dissertation I received some help from a civil and structural engineering company, Smith and Wallwork, here in Cambridge. I now work for Smith and Wallwork, mostly doing flood-risk analysis and drainage design, which allows me to use some of the sustainable design approaches I looked into in my dissertation, as well as drawing on my previous experience in water resources management.


On a class field-trip to Aberystwyth in Wales

Photo Credit: Ceridwen Salisbury

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.