Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Politics of Population, Migration and Ecology

This Master's degree in politics considers the increasingly pressing political issues of population and demography. World population is growing fast: having trebled in approximately a century, the UN projects an increase from today's 7 billion to around 11 billion by the end of the twenty-first century. This unique programme explores where this growth is occurring and considers the environmental, economic, political and global implications for both developing and developed countries. We will consider policy debates and responses to population growth and stabilisation, as well as the effects of ageing populations on economies, welfare systems and defence and security. Under the guidance of expert academics, you will examine how ethnic, religious and national identities intersect with questions of resources and population around the world. You will be introduced to a spectrum of methodological approaches, including quantitative techniques for analysing and projecting demographic change, discourse analysis of policy documents, and historical case studies of political debates and movements. There will be an opportunity to read some of the classic works on population, such as Adam Smith, Malthus, J. S. Mill and Marx, as well as to study more recent ideas, including demographic transition theory and the environmental concept of the Anthropocene. You will be invited to examine unique case studies using methodologies that include data analysis, critical theory (Marxism, genealogy and critical discourse analysis) and policy analysis.

Entry requirements

A good degree in social science or another relevant subject. Other qualifications may also be considered. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course modules

You must successfully complete the following 5 components:

2 core modules;
2 option modules;
A self-directed dissertation under the guidance of a member of the department's faculty on an approved topic in the area of the politics of population, migration and ecology.

Core modules:

Geopolitics, Population and Environment;
The Politics of Population Change: Immigration, Aging and Conflict.

Option modules are usually available in:

British, Russian, European and US government and politics;
International relations and foreign policy;
The politics of the Middle East;
Global governance and international political economy;
Nationalism and ethno-religious conflict;
Political sociology and political theory;
Public policy ideas, practices and processes;
Politics and religion;
War, politics and society.

Assessment methods

Each taught module requires you to submit an essay (approximately 3000 words) and sit a 3-hour examination in May-June.

Sponsorship information

The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses - and you don't have to start repaying until 2019. Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MSc Part-time evening October 2016 - 1 years
MSc Full-time October 2016 - 1 years
MSc Full-time October 2017 - 1 years
MSc Part-time October 2017 - 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus Bloomsbury WC1E 7HX South East

Key information

Department of Politics
Telephone number: 
020 7631 6780