Not available in 2020/21
DV411      Half Unit
Population and Development: an Analytical Approach

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tim Dyson, CON.8.04


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Population Health, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Social Research Methods, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Urbanisation and Development and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students will be allocated places to courses with priority to ID and joint-degree students.  If there are more ID and joint-degree students than the course can accommodate, these spots will be allocated randomly.  

Non-ID/Joint Degree students will be allocated to spare places by random selection with the preference given first to those degrees where the regulations permit this option.

Course content

Using the demographic transition as its framework, the course examines different analytic approaches to the main interrelationships between population change and socio-economic development. It draws on a variety of theoretical and historical experiences to address and explore these interconnections. It aims to provide balance between theoretical understanding, knowledge of empirical evidence and basic causal processes, and implications for policy.

The course begins by providing an overview of the world's current demographic situation at both the global and the regional levels. It then addresses Malthusian and anti-Malthusian perspectives on the basic relationships linking population growth and economic growth. These contrasting perspectives are considered in the context of both historical and contemporary experience. The course then proceeds to assess demographic transition theories and their relationships to theories and processes of economic development, urbanisation and socio-structural change. Urban growth, migration, and urbanization receive special attention. The implications of population change for issues of employment, savings and investment are considered, as are issues relating to energy, food production and security, carbon emissions and climate change. Contemporary neo-Malthusian arguments, with their environmental components are also considered, as are issues relating to women's empowerment, democratization, and population aging. Further details will be provided at the start of the session.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the LT.

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be given the opportunity to undertake a 'mock examination'. This will be graded and accompanied by written feedback within two weeks of its submission.

Indicative reading

A focussed reading list will be provided. However, relevant readings include: Tim Dyson Population and Development - The Demographic Transition, Zed Books 2010; Tim Dyson 'A partial theory of world development: The neglected role of the demographic transition in shaping modern society' in International Journal of Population Geography, 7, 2001; Nancy Birdsall, A C Kelley and S Sinding (eds) Population Matters: Demographic change, Economic Growth, and Poverty in the Developing World, Oxford University Press 2001; M Livi-Bacci A Concise History of World Population, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford 2001; T Dyson, Population and Food: Global Trends and Future Prospects, Routledge, 1996; R H Cassen (Ed), Population and Development: Old Debates, New Conclusions, Overseas Development Council, Washington DC, 1994; World Bank, Population Change and Economic Development, Washington DC, 1985. and various contributions to G. McNicoll, J. Bongaarts and E. P. Churchill (eds.) Population and Public Policy : Essays in Honor of Paul Demeny - Supplement to Population and Development Review 38 (2012) which is available open access.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 13.3
Merit 78.6
Pass 8.1
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information