The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Mengze Li

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

With a bachelor’s degree in Business English, I enrolled at DPU with a particular interest in gaining practical knowledge in development issues. This was because the rapid economic development in China and the severe wealth gap in Chinese cities had aroused my keen interest in studying the logics behind the force of development and urbanization.

MSc Urban Economic Development (UED) is the programme that provides such perspectives and theoretical lens to greater extent than I expected: we discussed urban development issues that lie in cities of both Global North and Global South in economic, social and environmental contexts. Throughout the modules, one’s academic capabilities are greatly developed, ranging from academic writing skills to dealing with statistical data.

One of the best parts of the programme is that it offers opportunities to a variety of occasions where I needed to ask why, to talk with clients, to figure out problems and to think about solutions. This has helped to bring out the best use of what I have learned in UED sessions.

A background of UED enabled me to be competitive in job markets aiming at international organizations and transnational corporations. Upon graduation, I got an internship soon in UNDP China, working in global issues team on global governance and development goals. My experience with UED helped me quickly to adapt to my work at UNDP: the fieldtrip in Ethiopia equipped me with knowledge of transportation and water issues, which to a large extent assisted my work of reviewing UN development goals.

Thanks to the internship, I got a chance to know the partnership between UNDP China and my current employer – Coca-Cola on water issues within China. The efficiency of private sector and effectiveness of public-private partnership aroused my interests. Acting upon this interest, I applied for positions in the management trainee programme at Coca-Cola China and luckily got admitted. When visiting Coca-Cola franchised factories, I was amazed at how different levels and stakeholders of urbanization could affect business behavior all over China.

Many thanks to the UED programme and all the faculty staff in DPU who have taught me critical thinking skills, enhanced my communication ability, and left me with a system of knowledge on urban economic development, all of which are of significant value in giving me insights into what I am doing now. This is also why I strongly recommend the UED programme, alongside its rigorous academic training and unique practical learning experience on a diverse range of topics in urban economy and urban development.

August 2015