SP431      Half Unit
Population Analysis: Methods and Models

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof. Michael Murphy, OLD.2.61

Dr Arjan Gjonca


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research), MSc in Statistics, MSc in Statistics (Research), MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics) and MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics) (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.



Students should have basic numeracy, but the course does not require advanced mathematical knowledge.Some practical sessions will involve use of the spreadsheet EXCEL. IT Training provides numerous self-paced student supervised workshops on EXCEL and downloadable course guides. Students with no prior experience of EXCEL are advised to attend one of these workshops before the course.

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the key concepts and methods required for population analysis.The course will explain the dynamics of population change and enable students to learn basic methods for measuring population structure and the determinants of population size and change (fertility, mortality and migration). The course will also provide an introduction to population projections and describe and evaluate how demographic data are collected and used. Emphasis is placed on the understanding and interpretation of demographic data, as well as methods of population analysis.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to complete exercises, write one essay and complete one multiple choice questionnaires during the term.

Indicative reading

  • Demography: Measuring and Modeling Population Processes by S H Preston, P Heuveline and M Guillot, 2001.

This will be used as a reference text in the course. Students may also find it helpful to consult some of the other standard texts available including:

  • Essential Demographic Methods by Kenneth W. Wachter, 2014 (recommended);
  • Demographic Methods by Andrew Hinde, 1998;
  • Demographic Methods and Concepts by Donald Rowland, 2003 (less advanced);
  • Methods and Models in Demography by C Newell, 1988 (less advanced).


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

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: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 6

Average class size 2019/20: 7

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Application of numeracy skills