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International Graduate Program in Asian Demographic Research

School of Sociology and Political Science

Shanghai University







The International Graduate Program in Asian Demographic Research is an English-taught post-graduate program under the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI), specially designed for international and Chinese students who are interested in demography and scientific studies of population-related issues, particularly in Asia. As a component of the multi-disciplinary Post-graduate Program of Global Studies (PPGS) at Shanghai University, this program reflects ADRI’s mission of training a new generation of demographers to undertake in-depth comparative analysis in Asia, the continent that is home to more than half of the world’s population.


Students of this program will gain a solid foundation in theories and methods for understanding the determinants and consequences of population dynamics, modern techniques for collecting and processing population data, and statistical and mathematical models and tools for analyzing and simulating population-socioeconomic-environment interactions. Instruction is provided by ADRI’s faculty members, leading international experts in their fields of study who have graduated from and taught in world-class universities in the US, Europe, and Australia. Students will also benefit greatly from frequent guest lectures, including lectures by some of the world’s most respected demographers. Through the network of the Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis, of which ADRI serves as the headquarters, students will have opportunities to participate in demographic training workshops and other exchange programs with member institutes of the Asian MetaCentre.


Upon completion of the program, graduates will have developed a solid base of knowledge in the discipline of demography, developed contacts with an extensive network of established scholars, and be prepared for a career in Asian population research, including research in support of policy or business analyses.


Credits: 49 Credits in total

At least 48 credits are needed to get a degree, among which 26 credits are from the compulsory courses, 20 are from the optional courses and 2 are from academic seminars.



At least one academic paper must be published (in English, Chinese, or the student’s native language) during the period of study before the degree is awarded.


Language of the Thesis

The master’s thesis must be prepared in English with an additional Chinese abstract of about 1500 characters.


Thesis Defense

After the successful oral defense and evaluation by the Academic Degrees Committee of Shanghai University, the graduation certificate and a Diploma of Master Degree in The People’s Republic of China will be issued.


The required time for this program is 2.5 to 3 years, and the maximum time is five years.


Compulsory Courses (24 credits)

Demographic Computation (4 credits)

Statistical Modelling for Demography (4 credits)

Migration and Urbanization (4 credits)

Population, Health and Health Policy (4 credits)

Population, Environment and Climate Change (4 credits)

The Frontier of Demographic Research (2 credits)

Family, Marriage and Gender (2 credits)


Academic Seminars (3 credits)

During the graduate study, students are expected to attend at least 10 open lectures or seminars on the campus concerning economics, sociology, science, or technology, in order to expand the scope of their knowledge and strengthen their capacity to conduct academic research.


1) Admission Requirements

English proficiency: TOFEL 80 or IELTS 5.5

Aged 18 to 40


2) Documents for Application

Application Entry (http://www.apply.shu.edu.cn)

Bachelor Degree certificate and diploma and grade reports

English proficiency certificates

2 recommendation letters

Study or research plan

Passport and its photocopy

RMB 500 Yuan or USD 80 dollars application fee


3) Deadline for Application:

Before the end of June each year


1) Scholarships

There are some scholarships available for excellent international students who pursue an MA degree at Shanghai University. For detailed information, please visit http://www.apply.shu.edu.cn/sys/web/Scholarships.asp.


2) Tuition

RMB 32, 500 per year (paid yearly and not in installments). Payment methods can be found at http://www.apply.shu.edu.cn/sys/web/Admissions.asp?id=5


A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be advised as to termination of the graduate study. The termination procedure complies with the University Policies.


Quarters (Three 10-week quarters and one 4-week summer quarter)

1st quarter, September to November

2nd quarter, December to January

3rd quarter, March to June

4th quarter, June-July

2) Vacations & Holidays:

Winter vacation, January to February for 1 month at most (including Spring Festival, varied according to Chinese Lunar calendar)

Summer vacation, July to August for 2 months at most

National Day, October 1st to 7th

May Day, May 1

New Year Holiday, January 1

Qingming Festival, April 5

Duanwu Festival, one day in mid-June

Mid-Autumn Festival, 1 day in mid-September



Course Type



Course Name









Overview of China















Theories of

Global Studies






China and Globalization






Modern History of China






Foreign Relations of China





Core Courses


Demographic  Methods and Techniques






Statistical Modelling for Demography






Migration and Urbanization






Population, Health and Health Policy






Population, Environment and Climate Change






Data Science for Demography






The Frontier of Demographic Research



Summer Course



Spatial Analyses for Population Studies






Family, Marriage and Gender








Academic Seminars










1. Demographic Computation


This course aims to introduce the concept of demography and its methods and techniques, and to study population issues in the contemporary world by analyzing the past evolution and exploring scenarios for the future. In this hands-on programming course, participants will learn how to use basic and advanced spreadsheet techniques (in Excel and VBA) to present and analyze demographic data. As we explore each topic in the course, our aim will be to show how to apply conventional and advanced Excel techniques to solve typical tasks of demographic analysis. More specifically, students will embark on a journey to understand the evolution of population in a country of their choosing. We will then define future scenarios and project population into the future along the basic dimensions of age and sex. Once the model is ready, we will explore the policy implications of different assumptions.


There will be a frequent back and forth between the instructor explaining a new concept or method followed by the students implementing this method on their computers. Students will be provided with input data, but will also have to search for their own data on the internet and download it for their calculations. In addition to the regular active participation in class and in group discussions, students will have to deliver reports in which they demonstrate how they could apply the new methods to new data.


After completion of this course, students will be able to

- apply different demographic techniques using Excel and Visual Basic

- calculate and interpret life tables

- perform demographic projections applying cohort-component methodology

- learn how to work with and transform large demographic data sets


Instructor: Prof. Samir KC (Nepalese, PhD from University of Groningen, currently IIASA) leads ADRI’s research pillar on human capital and development analysis. His research interests focus on developing and applying multi-state population models in demographic analysis and projections with a particular focus on modeling human capital formation in education and health; and differential vulnerability to natural disasters. Currently, he is working on developing methods of population projections at sub-national levels. He has published in Science magazine (2011) and other peer-reviewed journals.




2. Data Science for Demography


Data Science for Demography

This course focuses on the use of R statistical language for handling, investigating and displaying demographic data. Practical hands-on exercises will be emphasized throughout the workshop to build up participants’ R experience. No prior knowledge of R is necessary, although participants should be comfortable using computers to handle data sets in statistical software (such as SPSS or Stata) and spreadsheets (such as Excel). Upon completion of this course participants will be familiar with the R environment, its basic functions and more advanced methods from some of the most popular R packages for importing, manipulating and visualizing data.


The course involves four sections:

1) An introduction to R, including basic R functions, accessing R packages and using RStudio effectively.

2) Visualizing demographic data in R using the ggplot2 package, including basic charts, facet plots and maps.

3) Managing demographic data in R using the tidyverse suite of packages, including reading data of different formats into R and summarizing, combining and reshaping data within R.

4) Using R markdown to efficiently turn your analyses into high quality documents, reports and presentations.

Participants will gain experience in each of these areas through lectures interspersed with practical computing exercises. Besides experience of handling data using statistical software, participants should also have a basic knowledge of demography, mathematics and statistics.


Students will be assessed through a mix of weekly assignments, short exams and a final assignment.


Instructor: Prof. Guy Abel (English, PhD from University of Southampton, previously Vienna Institute of Demography) is the leader of ADRI’s research pillar on international migration. His research interests cover estimating migration and applying statistical methods to better forecast components of population change. He recently published an article in Science Magazine that uses indirect estimates methods to quantify global bilateral migration flows between all countries for the first time.


3. Statistical Modelling for Demography


This course focuses on the use of R statistical language for the statistical modelling of demographic data. Practical hands-on exercises will be emphasized throughout the workshop to build up participants’ modelling experience. Students should be familiar with R before taking the course. Upon completion of this course participants will be familiar with applying different modelling approaches for analyzing demographic data.


The course involves four sections:

1) An introduction to basic probability theory underlying statistical models.

2) Linear multiple regression, data transformations, interpretation of parameter coefficients and model selection procedures.

3) Generalized linear regression models.

4) Multilevel regression models for hierarchical data.

Participants will gain experience in each of these areas through lectures interspersed with practical exercises. Besides experience in using R, participants should also have a basic knowledge of demography, mathematics and statistics.


Students will be assessed through a mix of weekly assignments, short exams and a final assignment.


Instructor: Prof. Guy Abel


4. Migration and Urbanization


This course examines migration and urbanization as components of demographic and socioeconomic change in the process of development. The course begins by covering some definitional, measurement, and data issues and reviewing main concepts and theories in migration and urbanization studies. We will examine global trends in migration and urbanization, patterns of migration and urbanization in selected developed and developing countries, and characteristics of internal and international migrants. We will explore causes of migration and urbanization and their demographic, economic, social and environmental consequences. Key issues in the course include the growth of mega-cities, the blurring of the urban-rural distinction, the emergence and development of in-situ urbanization and extended metropolitan regions, and the evolution of mobility patterns in the process of development, including rural-urban, urban-urban, urban-rural, and circular migration. We will also discuss the implications of the above issues for understanding migration and urbanization processes and related policymaking and planning.


Instructors: Prof. Yu Zhu (Chinese, PhD Australia National University) is the leader of ADRI’s research pillar on internal migration and urbanization. His research focuses on issues relating to migration and urbanization. He served as Chair of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on the Impact of Internal Migration and Urbanization in Developing Countries, and is currently Member of the International Advisory Board of the UN Habitat’s World Cities Report and Chair of the Asia and Pacific Migration Research Network. He is also Member of the Editorial Board of International Migration Review and Asian and Pacific Migration Journal.


Dr. Chen Chen (Chinese, PhD University of California at Los Angeles) is post-doc fellow at ADRI. Her research interests include comparative studies of migration transition paths in Asia and rural-urban migration and circularity in China. She has published papers in SSCI journals such Geoforum and Environment and Planning A. She also serves as an anonymous reviewer for peer-review journals such as Geoforum and Housing Studies.   


5. Population, Health and Health Policy


The dynamics of population processes are one of the most fundamentally important aspects of population health condition and health policy operation. This course aims to introduce students to major demographic concepts (e.g. mortality, fertility, and migration), to increase students’ understanding of the interface of health, healthcare and population dynamics, and to help students evaluate health issues that are affected by population changes.


The course discusses population size, distribution, concentration and compositional traits, and their implications for health, healthcare, and policy. The course addresses the dynamic processes of fertility and mortality and examines how the interaction of these processes is related to population health status, health behavior and health policy. The course also introduces students to demographic and health data, and illustrates how these data can be applied to the study of health, healthcare, and health policy.


Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

Describe the relationship among health, healthcare and demography.

Define and measure population size, distribution, concentration, and their trends, and the implications of these demographic attributes for health, healthcare and policies.

Understand the different ways to display and analyze compositional variables (e.g. age, sex, education), and their implications for health, healthcare and policies.

Have a good knowledge of the concepts and measures behind the three most important elements of demography: mortality, fertility and migration.

Select and analyse demographic and health data and other materials on relevant topics related to demographic dynamics and health issues, and present them in a coherent and convincing fashion in policy discussions in the form of constructive essays or effective presentations.


Instructor: Prof. Zhao Jiaying (Chinese, PhD Australia National University) is research fellow at Australia National University, Senior Surveillance Officer of the Center for Epidemiology and Evidence in Sydney, and Adjunct Associate Professor at ADRI. Her research focuses on changes in the patterns and causes of mortality and morbidity by demographic characteristics (gender and age), and their impacts on population dynamics and health policies in Asia. Her works have been published in leading scientific journals of the field including the Bulletin of World Health Organization, Population Health Metrics, and Journal of Epidemiology.


6. Population, Environment and Climate Change


This course provides a comprehensive examination of interrelations between population, environment and climate change with a particular emphasis on Asia. It will help students understand the impacts of population growth and compositional changes on the environment, as well as the consequences of environmental changes affecting human society. While the conceptual framework used here retains a demographic focus, the course materials will reflect the topic’s interdisciplinary nature.


In the first part of the course, we will review the main schools of thought on population, development and the environment, as a foundation for critical consideration of human-induced environment degradation and its feedback on human population, the public debates on environmental justice, and sustainable development movements. During the latter part of the course, students will learn the basics of major qualitative and quantitative methods and tools used in the analysis of population and environment interactions.


The course will use examples of various aspects of environmental changes such as land use and land cover, water, air, energy and climate systems, under different processes and components of human population dynamics i.e. fertility, mortality and morbidity, migration, and urbanization. Participants in this course will be familiar with global and regional emerging issues, concerning the scale, uncertainty, efforts and conflicts of environmental governance.


Instructor: Prof. Leiwen Jiang (Chinese, PhD University of Amsterdam, previously Brown Univ., IIASA and Peking University, currently with NCAR) is founding director of ADRI and also leads the pillar on population and environment/climate studies. His research has involved methodological work on improving demographic components of integrated climate assessment models and exploring the environmental implications of demographic dynamics. He served as panel member of the International Union for Scientific Studies of Population (IUSSP) Scientific Panel on Climate Change, lead author of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, and coordinator of IPCC Scholarship Program Working Group III.


7. The Frontier of Demographic Research


This course will invite some of the world’s famous demographers and prominent population research scholars to introduce the most important advancements in demographic research theories and methods, and discuss emerging population related issues, particularly in Asia. The topics include human capital development, population aging, international migration, household consumption and energy use, climate mitigation and adaptation, and big data and population processes.


Students will benefit greatly from being exposed to guest lecturers from multiple disciplines and across the global regions. Through the seminars, participants may anticipate developing an extensive network of contacts with established scholars in Asian population research throughout Asia and the world.


Coordinator: Prof. Leiwen Jiang


8. Family, Marriage and Gender


This course introduces significant research in family sociology and social demography. We understand families as situated in various historical and cultural contexts adapting to different socioeconomic and cultural configurations in different societies. A focus will be the comparison between East Asia and Western societies. Following a life course perspective, we will cover the following topics: gender socialization, unionship/marriage decision, intimate relationship, divorce and remarriage, intergenerational relations, and aging. In addition, we will spend a significant amount of time on two highly debated issues in family demography.  The first of these topics is whether Asian societies are entering or will enter the Second Demographic Transition. We will review the lowest-fertility populations in the world, in countries in East Asia and the Mediterranean. We will discuss the underlying causes of these low fertility societies and various family policies in different countries. Second, we will discuss whether marriage as a social institution is experiencing fundamental changes in East Asia with reference to “deinstitutionalization of marriage” in the United States. We will cover continuities and changes in East Asian families and how they function and cope when faced with rapid industrialization and globalization. We will also extensively discuss the so-called "leftover" women phenomenon in China to explore the underlying cultural and institutional dynamics.


Instructor: Prof. Yingchun Ji (Chinese, PhD University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) is the Eastern Scholar Professor at Shanghai University. Her interests include family sociology, social demography, gender, health studies, quantitative and mixed methods. She has published in journals of multiple disciplines, including sociology, family studies, population studies, and health studies. Much of her research is dedicated to family and gender issues in the Asian institutional and cultural context. She served as guest editor of Journal of Marriage and Family. Her current research projects include research on “leftover” women and “surplus” men in China, and social relations and health outcomes among cancer survivors.





1. Introduction to Population Studies


This course intends to introduce the student to population studies, covering the basics of population concepts, theories, nature and sources of population data, and population growth, structure, and distribution. It will also touch upon the related research fields, including population economics, population geography, population and society, and population and the environment. Particular attention will be paid the status of population dynamics in Asia.


Coordinator: Prof. Samir KC


2. Spatial Analysis for Population Studies


This course aims to introduce students to the applications and usage of spatial statistics for population research, and promotes the use of spatial methods and spatial thinking for the analysis of population issues. This class will have a large analytical component with topics to include global and local spatial autocorrelation, neighborhood statistics, analysis of spatial point patterns, spatially autoregressive models, and geographically weighted regression. Students will learn several software packages, including ArcGIS, R, GeoDa, to tackle various applications.  Participants will learn practical techniques associated with the analysis and visualization of demographic data ranging from how to communicate with maps and create maps for use in academic, government, and applied demographic settings and new directions and challenges associated with spatial technologies.


Instructor: Prof. Debroah Bolk (American, PhD Stanford) and Dr. Rapheal Nawrotzki (German, PhD University of Colorado at Boulder)


3. Demographic Analysis with Application to Aging Societies


This intensive course is based on a training workshop of the Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis. It aims to train or refresh students on demographic and population related methods with an emphasis on planning for aging societies and population projection. These methods can be applied to solve typical tasks of demographic analysis utilizing basic and advanced spreadsheet techniques.


Instructor: Prof. Sergei Scherbov (Russian) is director of demographic analysis at Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID, WU) in Vienna. He is one the world’s leading experts in demographic computer applications.