The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Prof Le-Yin Zhang

Prof Le-Yin Zhang

Professor of Urban Economic Development

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Sep 1997

Research summary

 Le-Yin has wide-ranging research interests, covering urbanisation, globalisation, climate change and macro-economic reform and their effects on cities; the role of the state in economic development and global/world city formation; climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries in general and their cities in particular.

Her current research activities focus on the low-carbon transition in China and governmentality. 

Her research also investigates: 

1). The role of the state in urban low-carbon transitions 

2). Economic development strategies for cities

3). Municipal finance and green finance

Teaching summary

MSc level teaching: DEVP0018: Managing the City Economy (a core module of MSc Urban Economic Development)

PhD projects under her primary supervision:
  • 'Evaluating the Effects of Halal Standards and their Implementation on the Development of Halal Agro-food Businesses in the Context of Islamic Governance in Brunei'
  • 'Back to the City Movement in Latin America: Assessing the economic impact of densification through repopulation of inner cities at the local level'
  • 'Policy Learning at Work: Investigating the Development of Ethiopia's Industrial Zones Programme with Engagements from China'

Applications from prospective PhD students in the following research areas are welcome:
  1. Low-carbon transition
  2. Urban economic development strategies
  3. Urban sustainability
  4. Green finance or municipal finance


University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1991


Le-Yin Zhang is Professor of Urban Economic Development at the Development Planning Unit(DPU), UCL

She has a first degree (BSc inGeography) from the Beijing Normal University and a PhD (in Planning Studies)from the University of London.  

Before joining UCL in 1997, Le-Yin had previously worked on full-time basis for:Zhejiang Institute of Education, PRC; Constance University, Germany; Universityof Greenwich, UK.  She has also served as a consultant for a varietyof international organisations and national and local governments (see Achievements for details).

She is a development economist specialised in economic development andmanagement of cities.  Her publications range from inward foreign directinvestment, industrialisation and clustering; Chinese economic reform, thecentral-local fiscal relationship and economic development in Shanghai;relationships between climate change,
industrialisation, the green economy, low-carbon transitions and citydevelopment strategies (for a full publications list, go to the tabPublications above).  She is the author of Managing the CityEconomy: Challenges and Strategies in Developing Countries (Routledge,2015) and Conducting and Financing Low-carbon Transitions in China: A governmentality perspective (Edward Elgar, 2021), and a co-editor of Finance for City Leaders Handbook (UN-Habitat,2016).

She has teaching, research and consultancy experiences in mainland China, HongKong, Taiwan, Germany, Egypt, Iran, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, as well as the UK.