The Wits Programme in Demography and Population Studies offers an interdisciplinary graduate teaching curriculum in demography and population studies, generates and coordinates research in population studies with the intention of producing skilled professionals who can pursue careers in academia, government, NGOs, the private sector and other organizations. Degree programmes on offer include the Honours/MA by coursework and PhD by thesis.
Why are demography/population studies important?
Africa faces serious challenges in the 21st century including HIV/AIDS, ensuring safe reproductive health, reducing infant and child survival, managing migration and urbanization and expediting economic development while safeguarding the environment. Population dynamics have implications for the environment, employment, work, family, health, urbanization, migration, old age and refugee movement to mention just a few. The interconnected nature of all these issues has necessitated the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach to tackling population problems. For example, one cannot investigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on family structure without thinking about gender, unemployment, migration, etc.
Demography as an academic discipline seeks to explore the dynamics of human populations in relation to the changes in their sizes, structures and distributions. At Wits this discipline had been taught on a limited basis in the past. Realization of a paucity in skills in this area has brought about the need for a well-focused programme in demography and population studies at Wits to affirm her place at the forefront of academic training and research that responds to the population and health challenges of the South African region.
The programme is interdisciplinary but retains the core quantitative courses that are essential to a demography curriculum. Students have the opportunity to work on independent research with guidance from faculty for the MA and Ph.D. This research can be oriented towards more quantitative analysis or a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses.
Situated in Johannesburg, Wits offers a unique opportunity to access a wide range of academic and non-academic institutions and organizations. In this sense, Wits has a distinctive capacity to contribute to the reconstruction and development of South Africa and more generally, the continent, through its cutting edge research and the production of skilled and critically thinking graduates.