Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Over onsFaculteit Ruimtelijke WetenschappenOnderwijsInternational studentsDemographic Methods and Analysis

Working with Data in Population Research

Coordinators: Prof. Fanny Janssen, Maties Reus Pons

Lecturers: Prof. Fanny Janssen, Dr. Ajay Bailey, Maties Reus Pons

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 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 issues 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 introduce you to include census, register data, and surveys. The covered techniques of data collection include surveys, focus-group discussions, in-depth interviewing, and observation. In addition, we discuss the population pyramid, demographic rates, probabilities, age standardization, decomposition methods, fertility analysis, mortality analysis and migration analysis.

Focus is on practical issues, such as which data to use for which research question, how to actually 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 ethical issues and data quality issues.

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

Next to an assignment in which you obtain and appraise demographic data for a particular country, you will make a portfolio with your outcomes and experiences while collecting data using different qualitative techniques. The demographic analysis part will be assessed through a written exam.

Last modified:26 June 2017 08.48 a.m.