Changing Population

Lesson Plans for Changing Population

This is a link page to sub-pages that provided detailed lesson plans and learning activities that cover everything in the IB guide for this topic. Lesson plans include resources to use on an interactive whiteboard and worksheets to print. The pages have full student access to give maximum flexibility to the teacher and the student. There are theoretical notes for extended reading and teacher notes at the top that provide timing information lesson objectives and activity instructions


1. Population and Economic Development Patterns

Physical and human factors affecting population distribution at the global scale

Global patterns and classification of economic development:

  • low-income countries
  • middle-income countries and emerging economies
  • high-income countries

Population Distribution at the Global Scale

This page introduces population distribution at both the global and regional scale. It looks to introduce the patterns of population distribution through a variety of maps.  The activities in the lesson are centered around maps and describing the patterns in a geographical way. A variety of interesting maps including infographics and ooze maps are used. The lesson is well resourced with student worksheets and one activity requires the students to evaluate different mapping techniques of population distribution

Global Patterns of Development

This page provides resources and activities on economic development. In additon to the interesting starter on night satellite images it goes on to explore different representations of economic development through the north south divide and Hans Rosling's informative visualisation of statistics covering the last 200 years. There is an extensive Top Trump set of countries which students can use to familarise themselves with economic development and then for classifying countries. There is a critical question running through the lesson based on how important this classification is today given uneven development is present at all scales, especially within countries.


Population distribution and economic development at the national scale, including voluntary internal migration, core-periphery patterns and megacity growth

  • Two detailed and contrasting examples of uneven population distribution

Population Density and Development in China and Nigeria

This page develops resources and actvities that focus on the population density and nature of voluntary internal migration in both China and Nigeria. It starts by students looking at simple economic data to compare the two countries, which show stark differences but interesting similarities. Students then go on to look at the pattern of mega city growth and patterns of core periphery firstly, through a map-from-memory activity and then later, a detailed mapping activity based on a well focused resource pack (in the site). Students then look deeper into the patterns of migration through an excellent Economist videographic and worksheet as well as snippets from published journals on the causes of migration in Nigeria.


2. Changing Populations and Places

Population change and demographic transition over time, including natural increase, fertility rate, life expectancy, population structure and dependency ratios

  • Detailed examples of two or more contrasting countries

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

How the impacts of population change and spatial interactions between places can be categorized and represented graphically

Population Change and The Demographic Transition

This page introduces the Demographic Transition Model and provides a number resources covering trends in population growth. The activities are based on graph analysis and well focused videos. The DTM is explored both in terms of main features and the processes that influence it through its different stages. The lesson finishes with an important video on maternal health car (pre-2015) featuring people experiencing the stark reality of coping with the problems at the early stages of the DTM as well as the changes that need to be made to move out of it.

Introduction to Population Structure and Population Pyramids

This page provides resources that introduce population pyramids as a way for examining population structures, linked to the demographic transition model. Students are introduced to population pyramids through a quick map-from- memory activity and sketch activity based on hypothetical population structures before they go on to learn more detailed ways of describing changing patterns linked to demographic transition.

Introduction to Dependency Ratios

This page introduces dependency ration as a concept. The lesson begins by calculating the dependency ratio for the class before going on to examine the issue of dependency in the UK and Uganda as exemplification rather than case study material. The page recaps population pyramids that have quirky dependency shapes and students mind map the challenges of both aging and youthful dependency.

Student Investigation into China and Nigeria

This page sets out instructions for students to complete an investigation either in class or as a homework assignment. Students use a series of focused sites to write a report contrasting the demographic change in China and Nigeria. Students focus on population structure, change in terms, life expectancy, fertility rate, natural increase and dependency ratio. They use screen shots of population pyramids and comment on different challenges the two countries face.


The consequences of megacity growth for individuals and societies

  • One case study of a contemporary megacity experiencing rapid growth

The causes and consequences of forced migration and internal displacement

  • Detailed examples of two or more forced movements, to include environmental and political push factors, and consequences for people and places


In the next twenty years, Lagos is likely to become one of the largest megacities in the world, but built 30% on water and facing the threat of climate change its future is uncertain. This page provides resources and activities based on the rapid growth of Lagos. It starts with a guess the city activity, before using a number of graphics and maps that explore the demographic data, spatial change and causes. It examines the consequences through an outstanding Journeyman documentary and takes an in-depth look at two potential future project, includingthe Eko Atlantic Project and 'Floating Communities' Project that may address the challenges facing very different groups within the same society.

Introduction to Migration

Migration takes place both internally, within countries and externally across countries. There is short term and long term, voluntary and forced movements of people. This unit introduces students to the main types of migration and reasons for it, through a variety of activities, including classifying photographs and infographics

Forced Internal Displacement in Nigeria

This page develops resources that look at the causes and consequences of forced internal migration in Nigeria, developing a detailed example of environmental and political push factors. Students look at the many environmental factors drawing on existing knowledge of land degradation and climate stress and focus in more depth through a mapping activity on the consequences of the 2012 flood, which led to over 2 million displaced people. Students then go on to look at the geo-political causes of migration through civil conflict and mind map the impacts of such displacement on both people and place

The European Migration Crisis

This page develops in-depth resources that get inside the causes and nature of the European migration crisis. It uses  Eritrea as place examples to map the numbers. Students are left with a true sense of the complexity of causes and the real challenges facing the people making the journey. The resources avoid over sensitive video footage and deal with the facts of migration.


3. Challenges and Possibilities

Global and regional/continental trends in family size, sex ratios, and ageing/greying

Policies associated with managing population change, focusing on:

  • policies related to ageing societies
  • pro-natalist or anti-natalist policies
  • gender equality policies and anti-trafficking policies

The demographic dividend and the ways in which population could be considered a resource when contemplating possible futures

  • One case study of a country benefiting from a demographic dividend

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

How population change may affect the power balance between groups of people at local, national and international scales

Population Patterns and Policies

This page provides class and home study resources for students to learn about both youthful and aging dependency ratios. Students will learn through a combination of detailed country profiles and skill based resources about the challenges of high dependency. It uses World Bank data first to explore global and regional differences, before developing contemporary place examples, such as China and its 'Two-Child Policy', 'The Bangladeshi Miracle' and Germany''s controversial opening up to refugees. These countries show a range of different policies with differing success and implications.

An Aging Crisis in China

This page provides resources on the growing problem of a rapidly aging society in China. It begins with resources that set the context at the national scale and then starts to delve deeper at local scale factors where the spatial distribution of elderly impacts both rural and urban areas. This lesson develops the thinking of  Howard French who refers to the 'left behind generation'

The Brain Drain of the British NHS

This page provides a student investigation into the impacts the National Health Service (NHS) has on extracting skilled health workers from other countries through bilateral agreements. In an aging society one policy is to recruit and active population from abroad. Whilst the NHS may be benefiting, what are the impacts of this on the countries these skilled migrants leave behind?

Policies Toward Gender Equality and Anti-Trafficking

This page develops resources and activities that introduce the subject of gender equaliy and human trafficking. The lesson begins with the innovative resource produced by the World's Largest Classroom Project, whereby students assess and graph the level of gender equality in their own community. After completing a short fact find based on a BBC news clip on human trafficking students then investigate in order to present the policies to tackle both gender equality and human trafficking. It is important that students develop policies at different scale, including the UN, the national scale and NGOs.

The Demographic Dividend

This page introduces the concept of the demographic dividend through an interactive infographic based on Sub-Saharan Africa. Students then use that infographic to learn the different factors required for a DD to occur. Students are then introduced to South Korea's DD through a slideshow and a population pyramid activity. Students learn more on the outcomes and consequences of the DD in South Korea through a number of well chosen activities and then through a  more detailed (thinking skills) nexus hexagon challenge.

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