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Francesco Mellino

Francesco recounts experiences of studying MSc Urban Economic Development at the Development Planning Unit

Having just completed my undergraduate studies in European Economics in Rome, I joined the MSc in Urban Economic Development (UED) in search for a different approach to economics. I always had a strong interest in spatial economics and I believed that studying UED would equip me with a better understanding of what the makers (or breakers) of a city’s success are. I was not disappointed.

The course’s reach is ambitious and comprehensive, with topics such as housing, transport, infrastructure and city governance being introduced and discussed in class alongside broader themes like inequality and poverty reduction. Moreover, since it is possible to sit or audit modules from other departments across UCL, the range of subjects available to students extends even further. Looking back, the variety and inter-disciplinarily aspects of the course proved to be the most helpful when I started my first job working as an Economist Intern at the Greater London Authority (GLA), London’s municipal government.

Before I started my employment, my first contacts with the Greater London Authority had been through UED’s London-based fieldwork. The opportunity to conduct research for external clients was a profoundly formative element for someone, like me at the time, with no previous work experience. Overall, all of the course’s assignments have a strong practical focus, the most evident being the annual overseas fieldtrip.

After seven months at the GLA, I have moved on to work as a Research Consultant at one of the UK’s leading planning and economics consultancies, Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners. Here, I have the opportunity to apply the practical and analytical skills I developed during my year at UCL on a daily basis, for example by supporting Local Authorities and businesses’ bids to establish Enterprise Zones or by informing corporate strategies with a robust spatial economics evidence base.

I would strongly recommend studying UED to those interested in cities or simply looking for a fresh perspective on the world’s future economic developments. 

August 2015