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Yitian Ren is a PhD Candidate in Planning and Environmental Management at The University of Manchester, and is fully-funded by School of Environment, Education and Development Postgraduate Research Scholarship. Yitian takes the role of Graduate Teaching Assistant (Department) and PGR Representative (Faculty and School). Before PhD journey, Yitian holds a B.E. in Real Estate Management (2016) and an MSc in Management Science (2019). Previously she has also studied and conducted research at the Department of Building & Real Estate in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.


My research interests originated from the curiosity on the unprecedentedly fast and large urbanisation program in developing countries, for which the appearances of both urban and rural sectors are evolving and during which the rampant urban sprawl and complicated rural restructuring co-exist.

In addressing the critical issues emerged during this process, my research covers the following aspects, by employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches:

1) Urban-rural linkage, rural restructuring and sustainability

For example, the development of small towns and their roles in linking urban-rural areas and offering services to rural communities. The research questions such as how townships assume their responsibility, what are the major obstacles they are facing, what are the development status between social-economic-environmental dimensions at township level, and how can small towns set proper development orientations to help themselves better sustain are explored. By conducting both theoretical and empirical studies (including field surveys in more than 20 townships in Southwest China during 2016-2018), the key research findings can be found in the articles, Why small towns can not share the benefits of urbanization in China?; Regional disparity in urbanizing China:Empirical study of unbalanced development phenomenon of townships in Southwest ChinaDevelopment orientations for attracting investments–A perspective of less-developed townships in China.

My doctoral research has a more bottom focus, that is, the grass-root rural communities. Particularly how the emerging technologic infrastructures and economic forms are exploited to reshape and restructure the development configuration of rural society in the context of contemporary China.

2) Sustainability performance of the urbanisation programs

For example, how the process of urban sprawl and development can be sustained given the resources and environment elements it relies on. These resource elements lie in multi-dimensions, such as infrastructure, land and water resources. Some research findings under this strand can be referred, such as the indicators for evaluating and monitoring urban carrying capacity (Ren et al. 2021; Liu, Ren & Shen et al., 2020), the carrying capacity assessment of urban infrastructure system (Wang, Ren & Shen et al., 2020).

Other aspects related to sustainability performance of urbanisation development, such as the input-output based efficiency assessment (Ren et al., 2018); how to utilise and refer to previous experiences and lessons to better facilitate and shape future sustainable urbanisation paradigm (Wang, Shen & Ren et al., 2019).

        Besides, with first-degree being cultivated in real estate & construction managment, I am open-minded and interested in the real estate and construction related topics, such as housing, urban regeneration, urban economics and sustainable built environment.

Contact: yitian.ren@manchester.ac.uk


From 2019/20 academic year till now, I contribute to the following modules as Graduate Teaching Assistant: 

2019/20 Academic Year-Semester 2:

· Land and Development (PLAN40662/60102)

· Neighbourhood Planning (PLAN40812/60812)

2020/21 Academic Year-Semester 1:

· Policies for Cities and Regions (PLAN20381)

· Introduction to Real Estate (PLAN10201)

· Strategic Asset Management (PLAN41051)

· Real Estate Investment & Finance (PLAN60191)

2020/21 Academic Year-Semester 2:

· Rural Planning (PLAN 10362)

· Land and Development (PLAN 40662/60102)

· International Perspective on Environment and Development (PLAN 20172/20472)

· PGT Dissertations (PLAN 60090)

2022/23 Academic Year-Semester 1:

· Introduction to Real Estate (PLAN10201)

· Plan Making & the Development Process (PLAN20181)

· Property Valuation (PLAN41031/60331)

· International Planning: Systems and Frameworks (PLAN40861/60861)

2022/23 Academic Year-Semester 2:

· Infrastructure Planning (PLAN420002)

· Housing, Planning and Development (PLAN30512)

· International Fieldtrip (PLAN60832, Ruhr, Germany)

· PGT Planning Dissertation

· PGT Real Estate Dissertation

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Research, Management Science and Engineering (Distinction, Dean's list), Chongqing University

30 Sep 201630 Jun 2019

Award Date: 30 Jun 2019

Bachelor of Engineering, Real Estate Management (First-class), Chongqing University

30 Sep 201230 Jun 2016

Award Date: 30 Jun 2016

Undergraduate Exchange Student, Bsc (hons) in Surveying, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Tuition fee waived)

30 Aug 201530 Dec 2015

External positions

Guest Research Fellow, Alibaba Research Centre for Rural Dynamics

Apr 2022Apr 2025

Research Assistant, Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

22 Jan 201822 May 2018

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


  • Urbanisation
  • Urban (re)development
  • Rural restructuring
  • Governance
  • Digital development
  • Society and environment


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