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Popfest 2012

Call for papers – PopFest 2012, Loughborough University - 21st-23rd June 2012|  

PopFest is an annual population studies conference for postgraduate students organised by fellow postgraduates. To celebrate the 20th annual PopFest, the conference in 2012 will reflect on the past 20 years of population studies and look forward to the challenges facing population studies in the next 20 years. PopFest welcomes representatives from various disciplines such as Social Sciences, Demography, Human Geography, Social Anthropology, Social Statistics, Health, Development, Social Policy, Energy and other related fields. All research projects, completed or in progress, relating to population studies will be welcomed.

Professor John Stillwell from the University of Leeds will be the keynote speaker for the event reflecting on increasing ethnic diversity of the UK population over the last 20 years. Professor John Stillwell's research interests include internal and international population migration, geographical information systems (GIS), and regional development and planning. Jonathon Porritt, founder Director and Trustee of the forum for the future, is also due to speak at the event about future challenges facing populations in the coming years.

Potential themes are as follows:

  • Migration/mobility and integration
  • Population policies
  • Social participation and active citizenship
  • Fertility, contraception, sexual and reproductive behaviour and rights
  • Childhood and youth
  • Data uses and methodological approaches in population studies (inc. innovative methods)
  • Demography
  • Historical population studies
  • The future of population studies
  • Future challenges to populations and population studies

There will also be a poster session during the conference to allow researchers to present their work in this format. PopFest also gives postgraduates the opportunity to chair sessions, if you are interested in chairing a session please contact us and we can try to find the best session for you to chair.

Abstracts (500 words max) and proposals for poster presentations should be submitted to|  by 20th March 2012.



The standard was again very high, but the judges agreed that th 2011 BSPS Prize should be awarded to Michelle Weinberger from LSE for her dissertation Making Sense of Tanzania's Fertility: The Role of Contraceptive Use

From the judges' comments: 

Judge A: Quite impressive work and very enjoyable to read. The paper addresses an important demographic phenomenon – stall in fertility decline – applicable to a number of developing countries, besides Tanzania. Good publication potential. 

Judge B: Elegant and effective exploration of the proximate determinants of fertility in Tanzania using hypothetical models to explore the contribution of contraceptive use (both prevalence and mix) to levels and trends in fertility, and prospects for future fertility decline. Very enjoyable to read (despite the flicking forward and back entailed by the structure). Quite possibly publishable


Entries are invited for the 2010 BSPS Prize.This is awarded to the entry judged to be the best MSc. Dissertation on a demographic topic during the year 2009 (which would normally be at or around distinction level). Applicants should supply four copies of their dissertation, which do not need to be bound – electronic submissions can also be accepted. 

Please note that all entries should be submitted by the institution awarding the degree, or by the supervising academic, and not by the authors themselves. A maximum of two entries per institution will be accepted. A word limit of 12,000 words per entry is encouraged, on the basis that it is very difficult to judge and compare entries of vastly differing lengths. However, longer dissertations may also be entered, with a section not exceeding the given word limit being nominated for judging

A cash prize of £300 is offered, which will be increased to £400 if there is a tie for first place and the Prize is split between two winners. The winner(s) will be announced at the BSPS Conference in September. 

For the purposes of this prize, demography is defined as

  1. the scientific study of human populations, especially with reference to their size, structure and distribution
  2. the scientific study of the determining processes, such as fertility, mortality and  migration, and
  3. the relationship of these with the social, economic and cultural context within which they exist.  

Entries should be received by 30 April 2010 at the BSPS Secretariat, PS201, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, or|


BSPS Prize 2009

The 2009 BSPS Prize, for the entry considered by the judges to be the best Masters dissertation on a demographic topic from the previous year (2008) was jointly awarded to:

Mallory Layne Krieger – University of Southampton – for her dissertation Sex mortality differentials: an analysis of late 19th Century causes of death
Alice Elliott – UCL – for her dissertation Legal, social and intimate belonging: Moroccan and Albanian second generation migrant sin Italy

Each have received a cheque for £200.  

From the judges comments: 

Mallory Krieger - A very strong, technically excellent dissertation. Innovative is use of very recent developments of modelling, applied in a new context. It is generally well written (with the odd editorial blemish) and presented, with a strong sense of the key issues across the field of mortality differentiation through life table analysis. The context in which the modelling is done (19th Century Decennial supplements for E&W, and comparing 3 matched pairs of enumeration districts) yields interesting results- but the conclusions are probable the bit of the work that still needs most work – possible in PhD work. But pretty well of publishable quality as it stands.

Alice Elliott - this is an excellent piece: very readable and highly focused, and well rooted in the Anthropology literature on identity. The study is a development of her previous undergraduate dissertation, developing from that sample of young people with sympathy and real understanding that comes through clearly.   Technically the work is very aware of difficulties of definition, of the technicalities of Italy's harsh policies towards immigrants, and of interviewing in the contexts of second generation migrants.  While the conclusions needed a bit more working through, this is an engaged and engaging essay, full of colour and insight and a cohesive synthesis from the qualitative evidence.

BSPS Prize 2007

The winner of the 2007 BSPS Prize was Maja Založnik, University of Liverpool,  for her Masters dissertation entitled Geographical Variation of Geodemographic Classifiability. The result was announced at the 2007 BSPS Conference in September.

One of the judges said:

Very well written and considered thesis. Detailed analysis and well presented results. Limitations and potential applications considered. Overall a very good dissertation.

And another said:

This is an interesting piece of methodological work in the field of spatial demography which investigated the prospects and problems related to geodemographic classification and its potential influence on the UK national area classification. The topic is highly relevant in the context of an increasing demand for small area statistics - which is often questioned for estimation precision because of errors in area classification. The author proposed a set of quality measures to quantify the geodemographic classification which were applied on the 2001 census output areas as used by the ONS. The overall quality and presentation of this work are excellent. The aims are clearly stated, although I feel that there are far too many aims for an MSc dissertation. There is a good coverage of relevant literature. The methods are clearly described with a good discussion on study limitations. The application part is indeed very interesting and illustrates the importance of the topic. The findings are nicely summarised in the conclusion section.

The Prize is awarded to the entry judged to be the best MSc. Dissertation on a demographic topic during the previous year (which would normally be at or around distinction level). For the purposes of this prize, demography is defined as

1. the scientific study of human populations, especially with reference to their size, structure and distribution
2. the scientific study of the determining processes, such as fertility, mortality and migration, and
3. the relationship of these with the social, economic and cultural context within which they exist.

Congratulations to Maja, who BSPS understands will be returning to Liverpool to study for a PhD. She has received a cheque for £300 for her winning entry.

BSPS Prize 2006

The joint winners of the BSPS Prize 2006 were Romola Davenport (Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ) for Original Antigenic Sin and the pattern of mortality in influenza pandemics, and David Clifford (University of Southampton) for Fertility transition in Uzbekistan. Again the standard of entries was very high, and all entrants were commended by the judges. The result was announced at the 2006 Conference, and David and Romola have each received cheques for £200.

BSPS Prize 2005

The high standard of entries this year was remarked on by all 3 judges, who commended all the candidates for their work. They had found it difficult to judge between the entries, as different universities clearly had different criteria and word lengths for their Masters dissertations. However, after much deliberation, the judges agreed that 2 dissertations stood out in their view, and the BSPS Hon. Treasurer agreed to increase the value of the prize from £200 to £300 and to share this between two joint winners. The joint winners of the 2005 BSPS Prize, therefore, are:

Dana Leibmann from the University of Liverpool for "Migration in contemporary Germany"


Sarah Walters, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, for "Child mortality, the trend in fertility and age distribution in Tanzania, 1920-1961."

Judges comments on the winning entries:

Migration in Contemporary Germany:
This was a very thorough piece of demographic research and makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the important, but often under studied subject of internal migration within developed countries. The author of this dissertation correctly identifies the fact that the migration literature is vast and goes on to present a coherent review of the elements of the literature pertaining to the research question being tackled. The author uses a mixed method approach to study these issues and presents methods clearly drawing on existing literature to substantiate the use of the different methodologies used. The author succinctly summaries the results from both the qualitative and quantitative analysis. To improve this high quality piece of work further the author could have more fully incorporated his/ her own findings with those that had been presented in the extensive literature review in the opening chapters of the dissertation. We hope to see this work published in the future with this discussion added!

Child mortality, the trend in fertility and the age distribution in Tanzania, 1920-1961

This dissertation makes an excellent contribution to the field of demography, using a range of demographic techniques to reconstruct fertility and child mortality rates in Tanzania in the post second world war period. It was an extremely coherently structured dissertation, describing the methods used well and discussing some of the limitations of these analytical techniques. The work was further strengthened by comparing estimates of fertility and mortality from the different data sources available to enhance the validity of the estimates being obtained. The dissertation concluded with an excellent discussion, using Mosley and Chen's framework for childhood survival, to consider the possible determinants of the patterns of childhood mortality observed in Tanzania. The final discussion of the proximate determinants of mortality decline could have been strengthened further by including public health measures in the discussion (e.g.Simon Szreter's work on this subject criticises McKeown's original work for not including public health factors in the discussion of mortality decline). We hope to see this work published in the future with this discussion added.