The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Aylin Baykal

2021/22 graduate Aylin Baykal discusses what it's like to study MSc Development Administration and Planning at UCL.

My interest in development studies deepened as a result of my experiences in Cuba and South Korea, where I engaged in volunteer work while simultaneously pursuing my undergraduate education. During these experiences, through extensive discussions and observations of diverse cultures and societies, I became acutely aware of the profound cultural and economic disparities that exist worldwide. This awareness has sparked a strong interest in development, social justice and global challenges including inequality, sustainability and migration. 

In integrating this interest with my background in business administration, which I completed during my undergraduate education, I resolved to pursue my master's in the field of Development Administration and Planning. While seeking a master's programme that offered a distinguished academic faculty, robust research opportunities, and a comprehensive approach encompassing both practical and theoretical aspects of development, I came across the DAP programme on UCL's website. 

My pre-programme expectation was to broaden my horizons by gaining fresh perspectives in the field of development through the courses offered by the accomplished academic staff of the faculty. I also aimed to establish connections within a valuable global network of like-minded academics and practitioners. Upon completing the programme, I can confidently attest that not only were my expectations met, but I also found myself significantly enhanced and better equipped in unexpected ways, such as in the areas of critical thinking, academic writing, and public speaking. 

Following my graduation from the DAP Master's programme, I embarked on a career as a Net Zero Transport Analyst at Mitie in London. During this period, I realized that my passion for academia remained undiminished, prompting me to apply for doctoral programmes. Consequently, I commenced the MRes/PhD programme at Warwick Business School in September 2023. 

The impact of the UCL DAP programme on my current career is immeasurable. UCL's esteemed reputation as one of the world's most prestigious universities has given my career a significant boost. Additionally, the guidance and support of my thesis advisor and other faculty members who nurtured my academic research interests played a crucial role in starting my Ph.D. 

I wholeheartedly recommend prospective students to seriously consider this programme, especially if they aspire to pursue a career in development management. Engaging with distinguished professors from a renowned institution in one of the world's most enchanting cities offers unique opportunities for academic growth. Furthermore, establishing enduring connections with fellow students within their cohorts promises valuable professional and academic bonds that will undoubtedly endure into the future. 

My foremost advice to current master's students is not to underestimate the impact of the "UCL DPU" experience during their postgraduate course. Beyond the programme's comprehensive curriculum, the Development Administration and Planning programme provides an extensive array of opportunities for students to broaden their horizons. I firmly believe that merely focusing on coursework and classroom studies will not allow current students to fully harness the programme's potential. I highly recommend that students proactively embrace the opportunities presented by UCL and DPU. It is crucial to maintain continuous communication with the academic faculty and fellow students, actively engage with seminars and events hosted by the university, explore courses beyond their primary department, and strive to network with as many individuals as possible. This holistic approach will enable students to extract the utmost value from their educational journey and make the most of their time at the institution.