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Leadership of Urban Digital Innovation for Public Value


Overview of the MSt in LeadUP

The MSt is the third (final) year of the LeadUP course. You will have had to successfully complete PGCert and PGDip Modules 1-6 to enrol on the MSt.


Module and Dissertation details

The MSt involves completing Module 7 and a dissertation.  Students will gain proficiency in undertaking research on digitalisation in the urban built environment, positioning them to be masters in their topic of choice. 

Residential Sessions

MSt students will be required to attend in Cambridge for two, two-day activities: presentation of their research project plans at the start of the year and presentation of their research findings towards the end of the year.

Key dates

Start date – September 2026

Residential week – September 2026

Module 7: Methods and methodologies for investigating digitalisation in the urban built environment

This final module will revisit the sociotechnical understanding of digital innovations in the urban built environment (developed throughout the preceding modules) and show students how to make choices related to research ontology, epistemology, design and methods for their dissertation. It will offer more advanced insights into how various digitalisation initiatives in different places can be more comprehensively understood using constructs through the lens of sociology of technological innovations. Theoretical lenses including the multi-level sociotechnical transitions framework, large technological systems, and the social construction of technology will be discussed to give participants advanced knowledge of how digitalisation in the urban context can be more broadly understood as a complex network of both social and technical dimensions. The module will also equip participants with a framework to inform methodological decisions which will underpin their dissertation design. Students will be required to draft a research proposal which incorporates learning from this module.


Indicative content for this module includes:

Disruptive questioning: Conceptualising digital innovations in the urban built environment

  • Researching digital innovations in the urban built environment: Multi-perspective conceptualisation
  • Formulating research questions: At the nexus of practice and theory

Research methodologies for investigating digitalisation in the urban built environment

  • Research philosophy and methodology II
  • Research design and methods

Developing and undertaking the research project: The process, bias and ethics

  • Planning and undertaking your research
  • Bias and ethics in research II
  • Resources for conducting research II


Learning outcomes

  • A deeper understanding of research methodologies and methods to critically evaluate current research and advanced studies and enable students to apply them to the MSt. Project in practice, which must address a socio-technical topic under the general theme of responsible urban digital innovation to create public value.
  • Ability to formulate real-world problems into clear, actionable research that can be executed to deliver practical contributions based on rigorous appropriate methodologies and communicate it to different audiences in various formats.
  • Ability to plan a research project, including the relevant socio-technical literature and identifying appropriate research objectives and research methodology and methods.
Research Dissertation

The final MSt year will require submission of a research dissertation of between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length including footnotes but excluding appendices and bibliography. Guided by principles of rigorous and ethical research (from Modules 1 and 7), students will be required to complete a practically relevant study with a focus on a topic of interest in an area within the LeadUP’s ambit. Students will be encouraged to investigate topics that will be of relevance to their professional roles and/or of their organisations. The dissertation should include primary data which may be quantitative, qualitative or mixed in nature.

Further information on MSt degrees

The University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) provides further information on Cambridge Master of Studies degrees here. Applicants may find this to be a useful guide.

For the MSt year only, you will need to be a member of one of the Colleges at Cambridge. Further information on College membership is provided by the ICE here.