Essay Clinic: University College London – Master of Sustainable Urbanism


Indonesia Mengglobal Essay Clinic is our effort to provide tangible help for Indonesian applicants who want to study abroad. This essay clinic is not meant to showcase ‘the perfect essay’, but by analyzing other people’s essays (what works, what does not work, what’s good, what’s bad), we hope you can learn how to write an effective application essay and how to continuously improve your own essay. We also accept essay submissions. Click here to learn on how to participate!!

Note on the Essay

This essay will be submitted as a personal statement to University College London’s Master of Sustainable Urbanism.

Essay Prompt

The supporting statement is your opportunity to address the academic and any non-academic entry requirements as described in the prospectus. You should address the following:

  1. Your academic interests and reasons for applying.
  2. Your career objectives and any relevant non-academic achievements as well as any publications. Outline any other relevant experience including attendance at specialist workshops or short courses.
  3. Applicants for taught programmes, in particular flexible programmes, should indicate, where appropriate, the options/modules in which they are likely to be interested.

The Essay

Urban Planning is basically the science of the world around us. Being raised in three different cities since my born day, I didn’t feel like I studied the course at my previous university, but I lived the course. I can learn from every step I make on pedestrian way, crossing through the road, or merely sitting on a bench at city park. I observe and learn new things about the city in my every sight.

One of my influential experience came when I took a bus home from my office at the downtown. Stressful traffic jam accompanied my way home and made my travel time twice longer than it should be. This condition applied at the most area of Jakarta. Then I realized that the city development haven’t considered the sustainability issues as it appears on the poor land management that affected high car dependency ratio, air pollution, even lower the productivity and happiness of people. Though the mixed-use development is already prevailed, it doesn’t make the people live around there because the workers affordability, especially in housing, is neglected in the interest of property investment. Moreover, non-motorized facilities like pedestrian way and bike lane are not in appealing condition and it rises the dependency on motorized vehicle since the public transportation are not in proper condition. The lack of green spaces makes the weather and air pollution worse.

All of these circumstances made me understand that sustainability is a fundamental key in urban development in order to make the city livable for now and years later. Guiding by my curiosity on that issue, , I believe taking Sustainable Urbanism for my master degree would help me to get a better understanding in tackling the urban problems in my country. In addition, UCL is the only university that offers this major in the UK and being reputable of its Built Environment researches.

My interest in this issue led me to conduct some researches that presented in local and international conferences. My undergraduate thesis about job-housing mismatch will be presented in Croatia (10th SDWES Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water, and Environment Systems) this year. Besides, I was also being a presenter of my research in Bandung City Forum (2014), International Conference on Sustainable Development (2013), and Green Radio Jakarta (2013).

By then, I realize that my country is not lacking of research production about urban issues. Instead, we do not deliver them enough to the public. This insight struck me because I have a hobby reading online articles about urban issues from international media, such as, and etc. In my country, Indonesia, we haven’t had educational media about urban issues like them. Hence, I want to build a research institute which accessible for public and delivering the knowledge with creative approach, like using the attractiveness of social media, presenting the data with infographic/illustration/video, and making a discussion room for people.

Now me and my friends are trying to start this project and collaborate with our lecturers as advisory board. We aim to raise the citizen’s awareness and help them to think deeper and give wider perspective to any urban life phenomena. Thus, we hope this will raise the citizen’s sense of belonging to the city and stimulate the born of fresh ideas. We plan to collaborate with local community/organization that also work for better city. Some of them are our connections we gained at former activities as students, such as in Bandung, Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Semarang.

In the country where the many of urban theories and urban experts was born, I believe the time in UK can help me to give the new perspectives from its cities, various friends, and lecturers in improving this project and bring the project to the next level since I attain international networks. As I come back from my study, I am still going to strengthen the networks of my website by doing a collaborative research or action through nations.

Review from Devika Devika, M.Sc., alumni of New York University(NYU)

This is my personal opinion about the essay you sent. The idea that you want to state is there, but it is lacking the strong message and emphasis on what you want to deliver. There are some improvements that need to be done in order to make the essay better. When I read the essay, I feel that the flow is not well developed. The structure of the sentences also needs to be altered in order to help the reader grasps the main message.

Feedback and Suggestions:

  1. Overall I think the essay is not strong enough to deliver the message that you intend to pass. I think you can make an improvement by strengthening the overall message that you want to deliver and arrange them like a timeline. You can start with your past experiences and reflect them into your present time, then think about what you want to do in the future. In this way, you can also show your enthusiasm in getting into the program by showing what you want to contribute.
    In this essay, you are trying to show that but in some paragraph you go back to the past experiences after explaining about the present.
  2. There are many grammatical errors. The words are not correctly used in the sentences. One of the examples: “Guiding by my curiosity on that issue”.
    I think you need to proofread the essay as often as you can. It is also helpful to read them at times you don’t think about the context and think if it makes sense to you. Some grammatical errors can be improved this way.
  3. Some transitional words in the paragraphs are not used efficiently. The overall essay can be improved by using some transitional words so the readers will get the context of the next sentence easily.
  4. I personally think this particular sentence needs to be rephrased.
    “My undergraduate thesis about job-housing mismatch will be presented in Croatia (10th SDWES Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water, and Environment Systems) this year.”
    The conference experience should be emphasized to make the reader interested in reading more and knowing your achievements more.
  5. This sentence below also needs to be rephrased.
    “This insight struck me because I have a hobby reading online articles about urban issues from international media, such as,,, and etc. In my country, Indonesia, we haven’t had educational media about urban issues like them.”
    The context of the sentence is not clear, especially the last sentence when you say “them”. This is unclear on what the word is referring to.
  6. Changing verb tense within a paragraph is acceptable but make sure the “order of things” makes logical sense. Sometimes, as in your paragraph, that means that you should be careful to select words that do not confuse the reader. This also relates to the first suggestion to alter the essay and make it like a timeline.
  7. Know your audience. This will help you improving this essay if you can think about the audience who will read your essay and what they will expect by reading this. For example, if you are sending this to someone who has been in London and does not have any idea about the conferences you went to, try to give some brief explanations and ideas about what the conferences are about.

I hope these suggestions help!


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