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Overarching aim

  • To undertake world-leading research that is related to environmental sustainability and to ensure that our operations are informed by this research where possible.
  • For all staff and students to have access to formal or informal opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding relating to sustainability matters and solutions.

There is significant research activity around sustainability issues underway across the University of Cambridge, including academic centres and networks, industry-facing research, and programmes of student activity.

This page aims to provide a starting point and to signpost to selected key information sources for further reading.

Quick links

Cambridge Zero - A bold response to the world’s greatest challenge

The University of Cambridge is building on its existing research and launching an ambitious new climate change initiative. Cambridge Zero is not just about developing greener technologies. It will harness the full power of the University’s research and policy expertise, developing solutions that work for our lives, our society and our economy.

Strategic research tools and groups

Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment aims to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversations about some of some of the planet’s most pressing global sustainability challenges, and to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to research which will help to prepare for and address those challenges.

Energy@Cambridge brings together the activities of over 250 academics working in energy-related research areas across different Schools, Departments and Institutions.

The University’s Research page provides searchable information about research occurring in various fields, including energy, biodiversity, public health, and international development.


Sustainability in the Cambridge curriculum

The Living Laboratory for Sustainability integrates environmental sustainability research into the policy and procedures of the University of Cambridge. This programme works with students and staff from across the University to improve the environmental sustainability of the operational Cambridge estate.

If you are interested in education for sustainable development (ESD), download and read 'Education for sustainable development: Guidance for UK higher education providers' here (published June 2014).

Undergraduate programmes

View the Undergraduate Study website for details of courses. You may be particularly interested in the departments of Architecture, Engineering, Geography, Land Economy, and Zoology, and the opportunities offered by the Natural Science Tripos or by Human, Social, and Political Science.

The Cambridge Zero Carbon Society offers a collection of courses, modules, contacts and suggestions for increasing the sustainability components of your degree (Cambridge students only).

Graduate courses

View the Graduate Admissions website for details of courses (the course list is under Step 2).

Full-time graduate programmes

You may be interested in the following specific examples of courses:

Part-time graduate programmes

You may be interested in the following specific examples of courses:


Research groups and collaborations

The Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (4CMR) facilitates policy innovations to reduce climate change risks, balancing environmental, economic and energy security aims.

The Cambridge Centre for Climate Science promotes research and other activities in Climate Science occurring at several departments across the University of Cambridge and at the British Antarctic Survey.

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) draws on University of Cambridge research to support innovative responses to the challenges of sustainability. It aims to bring together business, government and academia to deepen leaders’ insight and understanding through executive programmes, and business platforms.

The Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security links national and international vision with food security activities at Cambridge, connecting research in climate change, population growth, demography, water, energy, conservation of biodiversity and land-use as well as the political economy of food supply.

The Centre for Industrial Sustainability, based at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), aims to develop knowledge and tools that help accelerate the transition towards a sustainable industrial system.

The Centre for Sustainable Development, based at the Engineering Department, covers sustainable development issues in the fields of water, waste, sustainable communities, assessment methodologies and fragile nation states.

The Department of Land Economy explores ways to bring sustainable governance to the management of land in developed and developing nations.

The Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment Research Programme seeks to bring forward engineering innovations for a more sustainable built environment.

The Energy Efficient Cities Initiative promotes the design, construction and operation of cities to reflect the principles of sustainability.

The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies is the research arm of the Department of Architecture, focusing on transportation and buildings, history and philosophy of architecture, digital media design and communication, risk assessment and mitigation in the built environment, and territorial conflict in divided cities.

The Circular Economy Centre (CEC) within the Judge Business School is working towards becoming one of the leading hubs on the circular economy, synthesising shared research objectives and initiatives by both academic inputs as well as practitioners.

The Nature, Cultures, Knowledges Research Group within the Department of Geography explores the relevance, potential, and application of geographical analysis as a means to reveal more equitable and sustainable pathways for our globe's diverse societies and ecosystems.

The Centre for Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste is a UKRI funded programme. The Centre acts as a nucleus for a global network of partners and coordinates a range of research projects, workshops and a forum to tackle contemporary challenges from the manufacturing of more sustainable materials to driving innovations in plastic recycling.

Affiliated research

The Cambridge Conservation Initiative is a partnership organisation seeking to transform the global understanding and conservation of biodiversity and the natural capital it represents.

Another team has compiled resources for Environmental History and Education for Sustainable Development.

The Carbon Brainprint concept, developed by Cranfield University and HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England), aims to quantify the impact of universities on carbon footprint reduction. Cambridge has been involved in this project.

Green Labs

For practical advice, guidance and resources to help you reduce the carbon footprint of your lab work, see the University's Green Labs initiative.

Anything missing?

Contact us with any areas that you think could be added to this page.