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Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research

Demographic Concepts and Methods

Dates: 21 June 2017 
Instructor: Paul Norman
Level: Introductory 
Fee: £195 (£140 for those from educational, government and charitable institutions). 

We offer five free places to research staff and students within the Faculty of Humanities at The University of Manchester and the North West Doctoral Training Centre. Postgraduate students requesting a free place will be required to provide a letter of support from their supervisor.


This one day course will provide contexts for and practical experience of calculating demographic measures relating to population structure, fertility, mortality / illness and migration. In the morning we will concentrate on demographic data for geographical areas. This will include devising population pyramids and calculating fertility rates, standardised mortality / illness ratios and measures of migration.

In the afternoon we will then look at how population estimates and forecasts are constructed. This will include techniques such as ratio, apportionment, constraints and cohort component methods. In terms of projections / forecasts, we will apply demographic rates to populations and show how variations in rates leads to populations of different sizes and age structures.

The emphasis is on hands-on learning through practical sessions that take the participants through the preparation of inputs, running forecasts, analysing results, and adjusting forecasts to implement a range of scenarios or assumptions.

Please note that a portfolio of demographic-related course is offered at CMIST over a three-day period. This standalone course on Demographic Concepts & Methods acts as a foundation course for those who are going to take Forecasting Population with POPGROUP which takes place on day 2. This course leads on to the course on Household and Labour Force Forecasts with POPGROUP which takes place on day 3.

This course is designed for current and potential users of demographic data who wish to understand or use demographic methods in their work. Participants might be from local or national government, health service or business planning backgrounds or be postgraduate or established academics.


We will:

  • Provide a grounding in the principles underlying demographic analysis
  • Introduce basic demographic techniques
  • Give examples of situations which utilise these techniques

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify appropriate data sources
  • Apply appropriate techniques to population data in a range of research & policy situations
  • Feel well-resourced (methods, skills)


Experience of using Microsoft Excel files is essential.

Recommended Reading

Holdsworth C, Finney N, Marshall A & Norman P (2013) Population and Society. Sage Publications Ltd: London: ISBN: 9781412900652

Newell, C. (1989). Methods and models in demography. Guilford Press

Rowland D T (2003) Demographic methods and concepts. Oxford University Press: Oxford

About the instructor