Not available in 2024/25
DV411      Half Unit
Population, Development and Environment: an Analytical Approach

This information is for the 2024/25 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), MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, 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 AT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the WT.

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 spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2023/24: Unavailable

Average class size 2023/24: Unavailable

Controlled access 2023/24: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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