GEOG40880 Population Patterns and Challenges

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module will situate current and projected global population trajectories in their spatial context, examining the spatial variations in the composition, distribution and movement of populations around our increasingly globalised world. By 2050 the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion, an increase of almost a third on today’s 7.7 billion inhabitants (PRB, 2019), but this growth will be far from uniform. While the population of Africa will double, the population of Europe will decline, increasing levels of urbanisation will result in rural depopulation, and political, socio-economic, environmental and cultural factors will all dictate personal and family-based decisions that collectively will significantly alter rates of fertility, migration and mortality in specific geographic areas. We will examine the increasing ‘problematising’ of population through a detailed exploration of the factors impacting evolving population geographies across each world region and, with reference to global population projections, debate the concept of the planet becoming over-populated. Through a number of specific international research case studies we will critically examine the role played by political, economic, environmental and socio-cultural factors in shaping current and future global population geographies.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:
• Discuss the geographies of population change at a range of scales from global to local, and the factors contributing to these changes.
• Demonstrate a critical awareness of the structural factors constraining and facilitating the alteration of current population trajectories and the potential for population shock events to disrupt these.
• Critically analyse the limitations of the sources available for the study of population geography.
• Critically debate the potential future geographies of global population development from quantitative and qualitative perspectives and through the lens of sustainable development.
• Demonstrate the development of increased critical writing and analytical skills through synthesising readings, formal presentations and the compilation of a research essay.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1 Introduction – problematising population in the 21st Century
Week 2 History of global population growth – changing spatial patterns & distributions
Week 3 Competing population projections
Week 4 Sources for the study of population
Week 5 Theorising population growth
Week 6 What does sustainable population growth look like?
Week 7 Reading Week
Week 8 Group Project Presentations
Week 9 Population Shocks - Disease & Conflict
Week 10 Migration
Week 11 Regulating population growth – government intervention
Week 12 Climate change and global population

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and learning on this module will include:
- Lectures / Seminars
- Active / task-based learning through peer and group work in practical workshop and 'break-out' sessions
- Inquiry and case-based learning through a case study based assignment 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: Individual Presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Project: 3500 word end of semester research essay Week 12 n/a Graded No


Group Project: Group Project Presentation - In groups you will research the key population challenges facing one world region (as assigned in class). Together you will prepare a presentation for in-class delivery. Week 8 n/a Graded No


Group Project: Group Project Report -each group will write a briefing report on the world region you presented on, taking on board the feedback from the in-class presentations. Week 9 n/a Graded No


Attendance: Preparation, participation and submission of a learning journal. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

- Group feedback on common issues arising from the learning journal / presentations will be provided during class. - Timely individualised feedback will be provided on written assignments. - Students are welcome to meet with the module coordinator during office hours if more detailed feedback / further clarification is required.