• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Biological Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology

The potential of human populations to grow, stabilise or decline is realised through events which are often strongly marked culturally and always crucial for individuals: birth, migration and death. The prospects and hazards of survival, mobility, marriage and raising a family vary greatly between populations, and are often related to sociocultural factors including religion, education, gender roles, valuation of children, political organisation and economy. Yet if sociocultural factors are to influence the dynamics of fertility and mortality, they must do so through their effects on those very biological events, giving birth and dying. This course explores in an anthropological context the complex interplay between culture and biology in producing population dynamics of different kinds, as well as the implications of those population dynamics for the societies in question. Course topics include: population size and structure in the past and present; the biology of natural fertility; social factors controlling fertility; mortality and the impact of varying life expectancies; population pressure on resources and consequences for migration; marital mobility, marriage practices, kinship systems and sex ratios; the demography of small-scale societies; health, nutrition and the demographic effect of epidemics; demographic implications of warfare; change, development and demographic transitions. Quantitative demographic techniques are introduced but not pursued in depth. Examples are drawn mainly from the mass societies of Asia and the small-scale indigenous societies of the Australia-Pacific region. The course is designed on the premise that what is distinctive about the anthropological (in the broad sense) approach to population is its concern with the processes that lie behind population numbers more than the numbers themselves, and its comparative perspective across cultures and from the distant past to the present.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Master the fundamentals of the factual groundwork presented in the course, particularly with regard to the lectures and the required readings; demonstrate a substantive awareness of key facts and the contributions of pivotal authors in the literature which examines human population dynamics cross-culturally and (in the broad sense) anthropologically
  2. Demonstrate an advanced grasp of fundamental concepts in anthropological demography and demographic anthropology
  3. Be conversant with advanced demographic methods and measures sufficiently to be able to calculate  measures and draw supported inferences from quantitative results on fertility, mortality, migration and other demographic topics
  4. Use a selective case study approach to explain a topic or argument in the field orally to your graduate level peers, in a clear, concise, analytical and evidence-based manner, couched so as to elicit discussion; and respond thoughtfully to the substance of peers’ similar contributions
  5. Draw together material from a range of scholarly sources relevant to an advanced level topic or proposition in the field, to form a unified text which sets out your own independent, where appropriate critical, assessment of that material, balancing general argument and supporting evidence

Indicative Assessment

One 3,500 word essay (45%) (Learning Outcomes 2 & 5).

Mid-semester examination, covering first part of the course, 1.5 hour duration (20%), held during regular class period. (Learning Outcomes 1-3)

Final examination, covering second part of the course. 2 hour duration, (25%) held in exam period. (Learning Outcomes 1-3).

One c.15 minute tutorial presentation (10%). (Learning Outcome 4).

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Normally offered in even-numbered years.

Two hours of lectures, and one hour of tutorial weekly; plus private study to bring the total weekly commitment to ten hours per week.

Preliminary Reading

McFalls, J.A. 'Population: A Lively Introduction', Population Bulletin 58 (4), Population Reference Bureau, Washington, DC, 2003.
Scheper-Hughes, N. 'Demography without Numbers', in Kertzer, D. and Fricke, T. (eds), Anthropological Demography, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1997.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1542
2014 $2478
2013 $2472
2012 $2472
2011 $2424
2010 $2358
2009 $2286
2008 $2286
2007 $2286
2006 $2286
2005 $2286
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3618
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3618
2004 $3618
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9215 21 Jul 2014 08 Aug 2014 31 Aug 2014 30 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

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