Roxanna recounts experiences of studying MSc Urban Economic Development at the Development Planning Unit
After completing an undergraduate degree double-majoring in Economics and International Relations and working for several universities and non-profit organizations in the US, I started to get anxious about the future.
My interests were quite broad across the international development spectrum and I entertained the idea of specializing in order to better focus my interests and skills. The MSc course in Urban Economic Development (UED) provided me with exactly what I was looking for.
Cities, the major drivers of global development, are at the forefront of the world's biggest opportunities and challenges for sustainable economic growth. The UED course provides an excellent overview of these opportunities and challenges set against the backdrop of historic and present-day trends in the field of urban economics. During my studies at UCL, I gained theoretical understanding of debates in urban development and drivers of economic growth by developing literature reviews, cost-benefit analyses and research frameworks.
Moreover, what is unique about the UED course is its emphasis on consultancy work, thus offering the chance to move beyond theory into practice in both a more developed and less developed city context. At the same time, while the course was specifically focused on research and analysis for urban economic policy, by virtue of it sitting under the umbrella of the DPU, I was exposed to a wide range of other topics in international development, environmental management, social policy and urban planning and design.
Culminating my studies, my MSc dissertation concentrated on researching successful examples of economic development and low-carbon strategies in eco-cities. It was precisely this interest in the intersection of environmental and economic sustainability which led me to join LSE Cities, the LSE's international research center on urban issues.
As a Researcher there, I contributed towards a publication on green economy best practices and carbon emissions projections for the world's urban areas. I also contributed to and helped coordinate the Cities chapter of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate's New Climate Economy project report, "Better Growth, Better Climate".
My current role as Cities Economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the business research arm of The Economist Group, exposes me to a variety of challenges on the city-level research front. An avid supporter of city indicators' standardization, I work on the majority of the EIU city-level projects, both established products and new product development. My work covers strategies for consumer market entry and growth, policy analysis, index building and benchmarking – all on city level.
Looking back at the time I spent at the DPU, I am very grateful for the many stimulating discussions on challenging topics I have had while there. The UED course helped frame "the next step" after graduation and prepared me to tackle whatever comes next. The course also provided a valuable support network through lecturers and peers.
It is for these reasons, and more, that I highly recommend the program to prospective students passionate about economics, urbanism, international development and gaining both theoretical expertise as well as practical experience in these fields.