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Minor Population Studies

Academic year 2017-2018, semester 1b

Offered by: Department of Demography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences

Coordinator: Billie de Haas MSc


Population issues are crucial to societies all over the world. Almost every day media report on population-related issues such as population aging, population decline and growth, migration, and their consequences for society in terms of the labor and housing market, pensions, health care provision, the integration of immigrants, and the well-being of individuals. Changes in household formation and dissolution (leaving the parental home, marriage, divorce) are important to individual well-being and the demand for housing. Worldwide, population growth and its sustainability are big issues; migration flows have a profound impact on societies and the multi-cultural identities of individuals; the HIV epidemic has severe consequences for the population structure in Africa and survival strategies of families; increasing obesity has a severe impact on population health.

Aim of the program

The Minor Population Studies is an English-taught minor that aims to provide students with academic insight into this wide spectrum of population issues. The focus of the Minor is on recent demographic trends, the causes and consequences of these trends, and the context in which they take place. The main disciplinary background of the Minor Population Studies is social demography, but insights are also obtained from human geography & planning, sociology, economics, anthropology, public health, gerontology and epidemiology.

Upon completion, students know about recent demographic trends and processes, their socio-cultural background, the role of social and institutional change, and the consequences of the trends on the development of society, ranging from the Netherlands, Europe, to societies worldwide. They also know about important theoretical underpinnings (e.g. the first and second demographic transition, the epidemiological and nutrition transition, the life course perspective), and methodological issues.

For whom?

The minor is open to every third year student and to international students interested in population issues, demography, and population geography. The minor is closely linked to a number of other disciplines, and are therefore of interest to students from Sociology; Epidemiology; Psychology; Planning; Human Geography; Public Health; Medical Sciences; Cultural Anthropology; International Relationships; and Gerontology.  

Students who would like to enter the Master programme in Population Studies at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences are encouraged to follow the Minor Population Studies.

Course programme

Minor Population Studies

Population and Development


Semester 1b

Healthy Ageing: A socio-demographic perspective


Semester 1b

Global Development Studies (recommended course)


Semester 1b

The courses of the Minor Population Studies are usually very well evaluated and students find it very interesting to gain insight into global and local population issues.

The course ‘Population and Development’ addresses recent demographic trends, their socio-cultural background and the consequences for societies worldwide. ‘Healthy Ageing: A socio-demographic perspective’ goes more in depth into the demographic processes of ageing and its relation to health, taking an interdisciplinary and societal perspective.

The minor is taught in English. The courses include guest lectures from experts working in the field of population studies, which enables students to develop career perspectives and to understand linkages between research, policy and practice.

Students interested in Population Studies may also choose to select some of the courses that are provided as part of the Minor Population Studies in combination with a related course, to construct a Personal Minor Population Studies (after consultation with the minor coordinator).

Description of the courses

Population and Development

Course coordinator: prof. dr. ir. H.H. Haisma

The Population and Development module aims to deepen the understanding of world-wide differences in fertility, mortality, migration, health, and nutrition. The reciprocal influence of economic, socio-cultural development and these demographic outcomes at both macro and micro level will be addressed. The demographic transition theory provides the basis for the understanding of differences in fertility, mortality, migration, health, and nutrition across regions and countries. Central to the apprehension of how population and development are intertwined is the ground-breaking work of Amartya Sen and his school of thought regarding individuals’ capabilities and development.

Healthy Ageing: A socio-demographic perspective

Course coordinator: dr. T.C. Vogt

Healthy ageing is a hot topic with great societal relevance. This course introduces the concept of healthy ageing from a socio-demographic perspective. The demographic perspective reveals causes and consequences of ageing in the society and their relationship with health. The social perspective reveals the importance of social factors in older people’s ageing (in place), health and wellbeing. Healthy ageing is addressed from the societal level, as well as from the individual level, i.e. the older people themselves.
After the course, students have an understanding of the topic of healthy ageing from a socio-demographic perspective. Students have knowledge of how healthy ageing relates to the spatial context and spatial behaviour such as housing, ageing in place, migration and mobility in later life, care, and social participation. They can reflect on how these issues relate to older adults’ health and wellbeing at the individual and societal level.
Next to the lectures, students work on a small research project in which they are going to interview older people to seek their perspectives on healthy ageing.

Global Development Studies (recommended course*)

Course coordinator: dr. G.J. de Vries

This course is about the main determinants of socio-economic development in developing countries.

Students learn about the similarities and differences in the socio-economic development of various regions in the world such as China, India, South-East Asia, Latin-America, Eastern Europe and Africa. In the course, the role of technology, health, education, structural change, history, geography, politics and the international economic order on socio-economic development is explained. The usefulness of various empirical methods to measure socio-economic development and its determinant is discussed, and theories of socio-economic development are evaluated. Throughout the course, national and international policies to generate socio-economic development are discussed and evaluated.

*It is possible to replace this course with another course after permission of the coordinators of the minor.

Laatst gewijzigd:04 oktober 2017 16:29