Imperial’s Novel Master Of Climate Change

Imperial College Business School in London launched a Master of Climate Change, Management & Finance program last October, and will welcome a second cohort this fall. Courtesy photo

Program Name: Master of Climate Change, Management & Finance

School: Imperial College Business School

Length of Program: 12 months

Cost: £27,000 for non-EU students, £15,600 for EU students

Nearly one full year into a unique partnership between Imperial College Business School and the College’s Grantham Institute-Climate Change and the Environment, developers of the resulting Master of Climate Change, Management & Finance couldn’t be happier with the program. And students have raved about their experience, too.

Mirabelle Muûls, Grantham lecturer in the economics of climate change and assistant professor at the business school, serves as program director of the new master’s, and one of its founders. Muûls was among several people at Imperial who thought that there was already quite a few master’s degrees in sustainability and the environment, but nothing that focused on what may very well be the great scientific and cultural — and therefore business — challenge of our time: climate change.

Launching the new program was like “having a new child,” Muûls tells Poets&Quants, but her nervousness quickly dissipated once the program launched. “The students have really driven the program, they are a really cohesive cohort,” she says.


The new program launched in October 2016 with a cohort of 44 students, including 43% women, representing 25 different countries. They gelled from the start, Muûls says.

“They’ve really become a strong group of friends,” she says. “They are very collaborative. I think because they come from so many backgrounds, they don’t feel they’re competing with each other, and therefore they help each other and create things that reflect the diversity of their backgrounds.”

Moreover, she says, the cohort has come with many initiatives that shows their passion for the subject.

“Some have created an organization that goes out into schools to educate children about the perils of climate change,” Muûls says. “Some have done voluntary work in public green spaces. Another group of students created a responsible investment club to bring awareness to institutional investors about the options about not only divestment but also conscientious investment in low carbon. And this has been completely student-led. We also had an innovation challenge where the students had a Dragon’s Den evening where three judges — one from Unilever, one from Bloomberg, and one from EDF Energy, and the team that won had a really interesting idea around big data and solar energy.

“The program has really lived up to our expectations.”

Mirabelle Muûls, director of the new Master of Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial College Business School. Courtesy photo

Why did Imperial launch the program? “There’s a few master’s degrees in sustainability, and there’s obviously a huge number of master’s in finance, but there wasn’t to the best of our knowledge any program that brought together the two in a completely combined way,” Muûls says. “We felt that Imperial College was really the best place to do that because we have people working in different kinds of research in climate science and engineering with mitigation technologies, and we also have one of the strongest business schools in Europe, so this seemed like a really natural place to create such a master’s.

“In addition, we thought that what we need to address the challenge of climate change, which is so big for society, is that we need future leaders who are completely aware of what climate change is, what solutions are out there, and how there programs can be not only a risk but also an opportunity for companies. We want to help build the right set of skills to do that.”

How is it different from what else is on the market? “This program is unique and it’s what makes our cohort so strong,” Muûls says. “So far,m those who choose to do it are already enthusiastic about it, and they choose this master’s because this is what they want to do. That was really the nice revelation, that we knew we had the faculty to teach on it, we knew we had business interest in it because we created an advisory board which was really enthusiastic about it, but until a year ago we didn’t know if we had student interest for it, and now we know that we have students who are great students who come from a range of backgrounds academically, and they also come from all over the world.”

Who is the ideal applicant and student? “The ideal student would be someone who is ambitious and open-minded, who is very passionate or at least curious about climate change and sustainability, who has good business acumen, and who has a strong academic background with some quantitative dimension. Something we say from the start, it’s a one-year program and it’s very dense, and so we need students to arrive with already a good grasp of maths and sustainability.”

What’s the application process? Are GMATs or GREs required? An essay? GMAT is recommended but not required. An English-language test is required if applicable. Applicants must provide full transcripts of degree-level studies to date, a curriculum vitae, two references (at least one of which must be academic) and three statements: a personal statement, a career planning statement, and a quantitative experience statement. They must also have some programming/computer software experience.

What is the application deadline? There is no hard deadline, Muul says, but the program has a cap on admits and expects to have all spaces filled by the middle of July. Candidates who apply before a scholarship application deadline of March 1 are eligible for a £10,000 scholarship based on academic excellence.

What can a student do to best prepare for the program in advance of its start? Books to read? Podcasts to listen to? TED talks to watch? “I usually advise them to read about what the current debates are around policies and around global leadership,” Muûls says. “If they are interested in the engineering side, to explore more about the solutions they’re interested in, read about general knowledge and climate finance and development in new technologies. Before they arrive, the way we do it here is that they arrive in October but before October they have some primers that they take online that are developed on purpose for them. They start those in July and they have three months to prepare, and those include statistics, accounting, maths, and things like that.”

What will students learn in the program? What’s the program format? The program comprises 15 core modules, according to the Imperial website, that are taught over three academic terms. In the summer, students may undertake either a group consultancy project or a work placement, and will also write a Capstone Individual Report. “The first two terms are each with modules followed by exams,” Muûls says. “The modules are really a combination of both science and engineering modules, but always focused on, obviously, climate change. And then business modules on accounting, finance, economics. But rather than just taking modules from existing programs and putting them together, each of the modules are specifically tailored for this course. So for example, you’ll have course in venture capital and investment, but on clean energy and low carbon.

“So they have five modules in each of those terms and in the last term they have five shorter modules that are condensed in one month, so that the other month they can choose between doing an internship in a relevant company or organization, or as a team to deliver a consultancy project for a real client. For example we have a group working for a development bank and another one working for an asset manager. About three-quarters of the students are doing work placements in a variety of places and a variety of sectors, depending on their interests — but all are focused on a dimension of climate change or sustainability.”

Is there a capstone or special project? If so, please describe it. The Capstone Individual Report is in addition to the group consultancy project or work placement. “It’s a report that they individually write where they bring together their experience with either the company or client and all the modules they had in one theme that they choose, and they deliver the report in September,” Muûls says.

What do you expect student outcomes to be? “There is no typical outcome,” Muûls says, “because climate change is such a multi-sector issue, so broad, there will be many outcomes. I think some will go into the public sector or international organizations; others will go into more traditional business school careers like consulting or finance, or even in unrelated positions, and some will go to energy companies and impact investment, clean tech companies, or the like. From what we’re seeing with the current cohort, this is the range of destinations they’re looking at. Some will go into nonprofit organizations, too — but most of them are looking into the private sector.”