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About usFaculty of Spatial SciencesEducationInternational studentsDemographic Methods and Analysis

Working with Data in Population Research

Coordinator: Dr. Adrien Remund

Lecturers: Dr. Adrien Remund, Dr. Billie de Haas, Prof. Hinke Haisma, guest lecturers

Credits: 5 ECTS

Assessment: assignment, portfolio, exercises, written exam

Period: beginning of September – halfway November (10 weeks)


The aim of the course is to familiarize the students with working with data in population research, by introducing them to the main demographic data sources, to quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques, and to quantitative measures and methods used in the analysis of population-level demographic data.

After completing this course, the students will be able to discuss the existing ways of obtaining demographic data, to connect the collection of demographic data to particular research questions, and to discuss the quality and ethical issues involved. They can collect and appraise secondary demographic data for a particular country and report on this.

They will have a detailed understanding of qualitative research methods, can construct an instrument for qualitative data collection, such as an interview-guide or observation protocol, and have a basic understanding of text analysis as a method of qualitative data-analysis.

In addition, the students will gain knowledge about important concepts in analytical demography and be able to calculate and interpret the main demographic measures, including demographic rates and probabilities, and specific fertility, mortality and migration measures. In addition, the students will be able to independently apply analytical methods and techniques for the analysis of demographic data at the macro level, can describe discuss the fundamental ideas behind these methods, and can interpret the outcomes.


The course provides an overview of different demographic data sources, quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection, and measures and methods used in the analysis of population-level demographic data.

Data sources that we discuss include census, register data, and surveys. We apply techniques of data collection including focus-group discussions, in-depth interviewing, and observation. In addition, we compute population pyramids, demographic rates, probabilities, age standardization, and decomposition methods, for fertility, mortality and migration analysis.

Focus is on practical issues, such as which data to use for which research question, how to collect demographic data, how to interpret often used demographic measures, and how to conduct demographic analyses. In addition, a critical attitude will be taken, with a focus on ethics, data quality and reproducibility issues.

The course combines formal teaching sessions with practical activities, such as group discussions, classroom practicals, and computer labs.

Evaluation comprises two assignments, one for quantitative methods in which you obtain and appraise demographic data for a particular country, and one in which you conduct a small qualitative research and collect your outcomes into a portfolio.

Last modified:14 January 2019 10.52 a.m.