Graduate School of the Environment

New Skills for a New Future

About Us


The Graduate School of the Environment at CAT is a world class training centre with 40 years' expertise in sustainability practice.

CAT's Graduate School of the Environment (GSE) offers a range of inspirational postgraduate programmes. Courses are directed by a unique combination of leading professionals, academics and authors. They are based in CAT’s stunning eco-educational facility, the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education. With flexible learning programmes to suit all needs, and teaching that places sustainability at its core, CAT offers an unparalleled academic and practical learning experience.

"No organisation is better placed to deliver skills for a zero carbon future, no building is better built to deliver that training.”

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) carried out a thorough review of the Graduate School’s academic standards and student learning opportunities. CAT received two commendations, focusing on the enhancement and quality of student learning opportunities. One of the current students featured in the review commented that: 

“I absolutely love the course, the location, the tutors and the whole experience. It's nothing less than life changing.”

See out HERAP report here.  




What is the GSE?


In 1994 the University of East London (UEL) started the MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies.  Originally based at UEL’s London campus, in 2000 the course moved to CAT, giving students the opportunity to learn in beautiful, inspiring and innovative surroundings.

Since then it has grown rapidly, leading to the formation in 2007 of the Graduate School of the Environment (GSE). The GSE now offers several high-standard programmes at postgraduate level.


The Centre for Alternative Technology’s staff provide many years of experience across all the fields covered by the course. In addition to this valuable wealth of experience, external staff supply extensive academic and vocational knowledge from their ongoing professional involvement in the fields of architecture, engineering, sustainability and consultancy. The staffing ratio is extremely generous and we take great pride in our caring, effective personal student support.

See the Staff pages for more information.

Why study here?

Situated in the stunning Dyfi valley in a former slate quarry, the CAT site offers students exceptional opportunities to put into practice academic theory. Lectures from experts in their fields and practical exercises and individual research – combined with tutorials and seminars from supportive staff and among enthusiastic peers – allow students to develop a wide breadth of skills and knowledge, whilst giving them the flexibility to investigate areas of interest in more depth.

The exceptional teaching staff, cutting edge postgraduate courses, magnificent location and flexible learning options mean that the Graduate School of the Environment is a truly sustainable place to learn.

Based in the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) the GSE offers unparalleled teaching and accommodation facilities, including:

  • A large rammed earth lecture theatre
  • Seminar rooms and workshops
  • Research laboratories
  • IT suite
  • Offices, common rooms and reception areas
  • 24 en-suite study bedrooms
  • Restaurant and Bar

WISE is a state of the art eco-educational facility. Designed by architects Pat Borer and David Lea, it is a beautiful combination of environmentally conscious design and cutting-edge sustainable building techniques. The venue is sensitively constructed out of low embodied energy materials such as hemp and lime, rammed earth and sustainably sourced timber. The supply of on-site renewable energy sources, including biomass and solar power, means that WISE is a truly sustainable place to study.

WISE is a 2011 RIBA Award winning Building and has won Building of the year 2010 in the Daily Telegraph.

Food and accommodation

Full residential accommodation is provided during the modules for participating students on the premises at CAT, including all meals. All meals are served in the WISE restaurant at CAT and are vegetarian. Special dietary requirements can be catered for, including gluten-free and vegan diets.

Who comes on our courses?

What did our students do before studying at CAT?

Our students come from an amazing variety of backgrounds bringing a diverse range of experiences, which contribute enormously to the whole learning experience.

Ages range from 21 to over 70.  Many of our mature students are looking to change career or incorporate knowledge about sustainable systems into their present jobs and lives.

MSc Sustainability and Adaptation courses

Educational backgrounds include Economics, Business and Management, Sociology, Carpentry, Physical Geography, History, Computer Science, Architectural engineering and technology, Aerospace engineering, Modern History and Politics, Mathematics, Architecture, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Politics and Philosophy, Photography and Filming, Music Technology, History of Art and Automotive Engineering.

Work/life experience includes IT Consultant, Plumber, Architectural Technician, Book Seller, Photographer, GP, House Refurbisher, Offshore Wind Farm Developer, Air Traffic Controller, Accountant, Clay Plasterer, Cobbler, Straw bale Builder, Farmer, Energy Utility Consultant, Design Architect, Ski Instructor, Textile Designer, Architect, Civil Servant, Artist, Automotive Engineer, Events Coordinator, Research Scientist, Army Reservist, Timber Frame Builder, Interior Designer, PV Installer, Waste Prevention Officer, Student and much more.

Professional Diploma Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies

Educational backgrounds include BA Architectural Studies, BSc Architecture and Environmental Design, BA Architecture, BA Architecture and Planning, MA Architecture: Sustainable Design Architecture, MEng Architecture and Environmental Design, and MSc Environmental Design of Buildings.

Work/life experience includes working in an architects firm and on community gardens, Hotel Receptionist, Waitress, Housewife, Architecture practice, Local Council in corporate property, retail for Apple, Design Company which designed Architectural metalwork & components, Research consultant, County Council - trainee architect, Landscape and property enhancement, Self-employed architect, timber framer, volunteer in Africa, teaching yoga and volunteering in Bulgaria and much more.

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