Class meetings: Mondays, 3-5pm
Office hours: TBA
Email: feehan [at]
Piazza page:

(Syllabus last updated: 2021-April-12)


Demography is the science of populations and how they change—including death, sex, migration, marriage, and more. Today, demography is a critical part of answering the most pressing questions that face populations all over the world: who is most vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic? Why do some countries become rich, while some remain poor? Which forces guide the shifting landscape of politics and voting? In this connector, we will take a tour of cutting-edge problems in demography and how data science can be used to help address them.

Please re-check the syllabus before you start each week’s reading; it will be updated as the semester progresses

Week Date Topic Lab Hwk Other materials
1 Mon, Jan 25 Intro
2 Mon, Feb 1 The life table and life and death in the US Lab 1: Exploring the lifetable
3 Mon, Feb 8 Life and death around the world Lab 2: Life and death around the world Hwk 1
4 Mon, Feb 15 HOLIDAY (NO CLASS)
5 Mon, Feb 22 Fertility Lab 3: Fertility
6 Mon, Mar 1 Population growth Lab 4: Introduction to population growth
7 Mon, Mar 8 The demographic transition and projections Lab 5: Projections and formal demography Hwk 2
8 Mon, Mar 15 The demographic dividend Lab 6: The demographic dividend
9 Mon, Mar 22 SPRING BREAK
10 Mon, Mar 29 Migration and space Lab 7: Migration and space Hwk 3
11 Mon, Apr 5 Political demography Lab 8: Political demography
12 Mon, Apr 12 Exploring project datasets Lab 9: Exploring project datasets
13 Mon, Apr 19 No class (meet with me about projects) Project
14 Mon, Apr 26 Project presentations



Class will typically start with a fairly brief lecture, and will then will introduce and develop theoretical and technical concepts in the study of demography. To illustrate these ideas, some of the lectures will have a live lab component, where we will interactively discuss and work through an analysis in a Jupyter notebook. These live labs will help us explore and develop intuition about key concepts in the course.

You are responsible for all of the material covered in lectures, as well as any announcements made there.

Reading and class participation (5%)

Attending class, doing assigned readings, and contributing to class discussions are all important to learning the material we will cover.

In-class labs (35%)

Part of almost every class will be devoted to working through hands-on labs. These labs will guide you through analysis of demographic problems and datasets. The labs will require you to build on the Python skills you will be learning in Data 8, The labs will also give you a chance to communicate the results of your analysis in writing.

Homework (30%)

The homework is an essential part of the learning that you will do in the class; there will be approximately 3 homework assignments, which will build on the concepts we discuss in class and the skills that we learn in the labs.

Final project (30%)

The final project will give you and a partner the opportunity to use a demographic dataset to pose a question, answer the question, and communicate your results in writing and through plots.


Component % of grade
Reading and class participation 5
In-class labs 35
Homework 30
Final project 30

Religious Accommodations

Requests to accommodate a student’s religious creed by scheduling tests or examinations at alternative times should be submitted directly to the instructor. Reasonable common sense, judgment and the pursuit of mutual goodwill should result in the positive resolution of scheduling conflicts. The regular campus appeals process applies if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be achieved.

Statement on Academic Freedom

Both students and instructors have rights to academic freedom. Please respect the rights of others to express their points of view in the classroom.

DSP Accommodations

Please see the instructor to discuss accommodations for physical disabilities, medical disabilities and learning disabilities.

Student Resources

The Student Learning Center provides a wide range of resources to promote learning and academic success for students. For information regarding these services, please consult the Student Learning Center Website:

Academic Integrity

The high academic standard at the University of California, Berkeley, is reflected in each degree that is awarded. As a result, every student is expected to maintain this high standard by ensuring that all academic work reflects unique ideas or properly attributes the ideas to the original sources.

These are some basic expectations of students with regards to academic integrity:

  • Any work submitted should be your own individual thoughts, and should not have been submitted for credit in another course unless you have prior written permission to re-use it in this course from this instructor.
  • All assignments must use “proper attribution,” meaning that you have identified the original source and extent or words or ideas that you reproduce or use in your assignment. This includes drafts and homework assignments!
  • If you are unclear about expectations, ask your instructor or GSI.
  • Do not collaborate or work with other students on assignments or projects unless you have been given permission or instruction to do so.