Personal profile


Dr. Yitian Ren obtained her PhD 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 PGR Representative (Faculty and School), and contributes to the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching as well as the MSc dissertation guidance in the Department as Graduate Teaching Assistant. She also works as Research Assistant for two UoM-fund Projects including one centred with brownfield land reuse in Greater Manchester. Yitian has won the prestigious 2023 MDC Excellence Award (Best contribution to PGR environment), being as the nominee of Faculty of Humanities and the only awardee across The University of Manchester in the year. 

Before PhD journey, Yitian holds a B.E. in Real Estate Management (First-class) and an MRes in Management Science (Distinction, Dean's list). Previously she has also studied and conducted research at the Department of Building & Real Estate in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and studied as visiting student in National University of Singapore, Politecnico di Milano, Antwerp 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 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. The empirical research of this doctoral project is underpinned by intensive fieldwork in five county-level territories in West China, involving multiple townships and grassroot villages.

The PhD Thesis is recognised by Examiners as Good, Strong, Thorough: "It is a strong thesis with a solid theoretical/conceptual grounding and a well-thought through design and methodology. It therefore builds on and adds to the accretion of knowledge in the longstanding field of ICT-for-Development (ICT4D), by yielding important empirical insights into the transformational impacts of ICT in rural 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).

        With first-degree being cultivated in real estate & construction managment, I am open-minded and interested in the broad topics of housing, urban regeneration, and sustainable built environment.



From 2019/20 academic year, 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 region, Germany)
· PGT Planning Dissertation
· PGT Real Estate Dissertation

2023/24 Academic Year-Semester 1:

· Real Estate Markets (PLAN61061)
· Applied Environmental Science (PLAN10101)

2023/24 Academic Year-Semester 2:

· Infrastructure Planning (PLAN60872)
· Place-making (PLAN10632)
· International Fieldtrip (Ruhr region, Germany)

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 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • 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

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
  • Entrepreneurial Governance
  • Digital development
  • Platform Urbanism
  • Society and environment


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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