Mahsa Khaneghah

MSc Global Urban Development and Planning

Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?

Mahsa Khaneghah

I am Iranian British and I grew up in London. My older sister studied law at the university so I was familiar with the university and fond of the city. I did my BA in Modern Languages (French) and Business & Management at Manchester, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I chose to do my masters at GDI because of the module selection and opportunity to go to Jinja, Uganda (as well as the above).  My supervisor was Alfredo Stein and my dissertation was entitled ‘The relevance of culture in planning for environmental change: a comparative study of Manchester’s multicultural contexts’. I chose this topic area because I am passionate about the need to include BAME groups in discussions surrounding urban development and climate change mitigation.

Has your qualification helped you in your career?

This is not a conventional route into the English property sector as my modules mostly addressed issues of inequality, climate change, participatory planning and informal settlements at a global scale with less focus on planning law and procedure. That being said, I could not be more grateful to have had this introduction to the world of urban development because I am able to apply these principles at the local scale, including these elements in my planning presentations for our franchise members undergoing residential and commercial projects. I am able to articulate the importance of sustainable development to the Councils and developers I work with, even making changes internally within my company to promote and take responsibility for the role we play within the industry. I have no doubt that myself and fellow class peers will continue to advocate for sustainable and accessible urban development within all the varied roles we find ourselves in because of this meaningful and highly relevant course.

Where then any specific modules or lecturers who particularly inspired you?

Alfredo Stein made a huge impact on our entire group. His wealth of experience and passion for urban development was contagious. His emphasis on making planning accessible to all groups and understanding inequalities within settlements particularly spoke to us because as students we came from all over the world. 

What is your best memory from your time at Manchester?

Studying global issues with a small but incredibly intelligent and diverse group of people made my experience. This led to interesting discussions, global connections in the sector and friendships for life.

Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students?

This could be, for example, career advice for graduating students on how to navigate life after Manchester or thoughts for prospective students considering studying at GDI, especially those from your country/background. I would always recommend diversifying your skill set, particularly for those who are interested in planning. If you speak other languages, come from another country or have experience in other fields this is an asset and should be presented as such. In addition, there are many spaces in local areas or even on social media where you can volunteer your knowledge to encourage planning engagement with individuals and communities to build your reputation and experience.