Demography and Population Studies

Further develop your knowledge of Demography and Population Studies and conduct your own research.


The Demography and Population Studies Programme is an interdisciplinary post-graduate programme involving both the School of Social Sciences and Public Health. The core focus of the programme is on the three demographic processes [Fertility, Mortality and Migration], as well as various aspects of public health and social factors associated with the populations. As a quantitative social science, students are provided with the tools and knowledge to apply statistical and demographic techniques to key social and public health questions, being offered a wide array of technical [statistics and demographic methods] and substantive/content driven courses. Students graduating from the programme are placed in various fields and industries, including government, academia, research institutes and organisations, International and Local Non-Governmental Organisations, as well as the private sector amongst others.



Students are required to complete three units, which are related to Demography & Population Studies, provided that the unit has not been completed at the Honours level. In addition, students must complete a Research report on a topical demographic or population health issue.

SOSS 7012: Introduction to Population Studies

This module reviews the major global trends in population growth. It identifies the key factors in explaining the timing and pace of these trends. Topics covered include:

  • Demographic transition theory
  • Population change and the role of family planning and mortality
  • key issues in mortality and migration.
SOSS 7070: Advanced Statistics for Demographic Survey and Analysis

The course aims to enhance and broaden the quantitative skills of demography and or social science students. The areas covered include:

  • Survey methodology
  • Principles and practice of data management
  • Basic and advanced social statistical methods

Social Statistical techniques will be taught using STATA Software installed in the DPS Laboratory.

SOCL 7071: Health Demography

This course explores the concepts and methods of health demography. Major issues in the field will also be considered such as mortality and health from a demographic perspective. The module will also examine key concepts and methodologies in the measurement of health and health service delivery.

SOSS 7003: Basic Demographic Methods

The unit introduces the basic measures and concepts of demography. The aim is to:

  1. Provide students with an understanding of the structure and dynamics of human populations.
  2. Introduce commonly used data sources, measures and techniques in demography.

The class will consist of lectures and occasional practical sessions. Upon completion, students will be able to conduct demographic analysis.

SOSS 7023: Advanced Demographic Methods

The aim of the course is to introduce students to more advanced demographic techniques. A focus will be placed on the indirect estimation procedure for mortality and fertility. Estimation and interpretation of past mortality and fertility levels will also be considered using real data.

Prerequisite: Basic Demographic Methods

SOSS 7018: Migration & Spatial Demography

This module offers a broad introduction to the field of migration and spatial demography as an element of population change. It builds on a basic grounding of theory and techniques drawn from various disciplines. Topics covered include:

  • conceptual and methodological issues
  • forms of migration
  • urbanization
SOSS 7072: Demography of Fertility and Reproduction

This module provides an overview of human fertility as an element of demographic process. It examines theories, trends and variability in patterns of human fertility. In the process of understanding these major objectives some of the topics covered include:

  1. Human fertility trends
  2. Examination of health and human fertility choices.
  3. Examination of gender, cultural and religious explanations of fertility choices
  4. The relationship between economic factors and fertility choices

Entry Requirements

Masters by Coursework and Research Report:

  • A bachelor’s degree with honours from Wits or another university with a 65% total mark aggregate.

Students must have achieved at least 65% in their Honours degree courses and should ideally have completed the Honours degree in Demography & Population Studies.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.