The Design Tripos will bring together architecture, engineering, and materials scienceLance Anderson/UNSPLASH

The University of Cambridge has announced the launch of a brand-new undergraduate course– its first new degree in years. 

The course is a four year Master of Design (MDes) degree, aimed at tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as delivering carbon net zero.

The four year course involves studio work along with taught courses in the humanities, social and natural sciences, and maths. 

Michael Ramage, director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation and deputy head of the University’s Department of Architecture, said of the new course: “It’s pioneering – we’re merging the arts and sciences under the umbrella of creativity and design, and constructing the course to be as open and interesting as possible.”

He continued: “Pressing challenges – such as achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and reaching sustainable development for all – are likely to be addressed directly as design challenges, rather than as separate mathematical or engineering challenges.”


Mountain View

New Master of Design degree proposed from 2024

It is hoped that the course would grow the Department of Architecture’s annual student intake to 90, following sustained oversubscription to the existing B.A. in Architecture which has a historic acceptance rate of around 10%. The department reported a further 35% increase in applicants for architecture last year.

The course intends to reduce the gender disparity in the design fields and bolster efforts to widen participation: in the past three years, fewer than 40% per cent of applications to engineering and physical sciences at Cambridge have been from female students.  

The tripos puts less emphasis on admissions based on male-dominated A-level subjects such as Physics, where 80% of students are male, and will instead favour a “broad set of excellent A-level results”. The blended nature of the course is hoped to appeal to a wide range of students.

The Design Tripos was initially proposed in July 2021, and is set to start in October 2024.