Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module ANTH42615: Evolutionary Demography

Department: Anthropology

ANTH42615: Evolutionary Demography

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To give students an understanding of evolutionary demography, the study of population processes within the framework of evolutionary theory.
  • To enable students to apply this perspective to the understanding of population and health issues in industrialised and low-income countries.


  • The course comprises two components:
  • Formal approaches within demography: basic principles, concepts and methods of demography (including fertility and mortality rates, population structures and statistical techniques of relevance to demography)
  • Evolutionary demography: using demographic data to test hypotheses deriving from evolutionary theory to demographic problems
  • This approach will be applied to a selection of key issues in contemporary population & health studies. These will vary from year to year, in order to keep the course relevant, up-to-date and drawing on tutors’ current areas of research. Examples may include: the relationship between health and reproduction, the influence of growth on later reproductive outcomes, HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, the role of kin and wider social networks in reproductive decision-making, fertility decline, ageing populations, etc.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module students will:
  • Understand the concepts and methods of demography
  • Understand the theoretical approach of evolutionary demography
  • Be familiar with a broad range of current demographic and health issues in industrialised and low-income countries.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Understanding of, and ability to use, key formal demographic concepts and methods.
  • Ability to apply the theoretical approach of evolutionary demography to current population and health issues.
Key Skills:
  • Be able to present a coherently argued essay.
  • Be able to work in a group to do a class presentation on a selected topic.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will introduce students to the key concepts, theories and methods of population analysis and evolutionary demography
  • Seminars will give students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of these key concepts, theories and methods by applying to particular ‘real life’ population issues. There will be an element of choice of topics, to enable students to pursue their interests in greater depth. Seminars will be based around student group presentations followed by more general discussion.
  • Methods classes will give the opportunity for students to familiarise themselves with, and practise using, key methods in formal and evolutionary demography.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
lectures 5 fortnightly 1 hour 5
seminars/method classes 10 weekly 1 hour 10
preparation & reading 134
revision class once 1 hour 1
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

• Class-based group presentations + group preparation of hand-outs summarising the key issues. • Formative essay, 2000 words • Self-assessment worksheets on formal demography.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University