BaRcelona Summer School of Demography


The Barcelona Summer School of Demography (BSSD), based at the Centre for Demographic Studies (CED), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, offers a four-week course in R. The course is divided into four modules – one per week – covering three major strengths of R: statistical and demographic analysis, data visualization and spatial analysis. Each module consists of 20 hours of teaching, combining theoretical lectures and practical exercises. Participants are welcome to apply for the entire course or any of the individual modules. Module 1 offers an introduction to R for which no previous knowledge is required. For the other modules, basic knowledge in R is convenient. Module 2 shows how to implement common demographic methods in R. Module 3 focuses on data visualization and the ‘tidyverse’ approach in R programming. Module 4 is devoted to handling spatial objects, spatial analysis and web-based mapping with R. For detailed contents on each module, please visit Schedule and Organization.

This year, we offer a hybrid modality of participation (onsite/online). In the application form, candidates must select the type of participation you’re willing to carry out. Onsite participation will be limited to 15 students per module, and we offer a maximum of 5 places to participate online to ensure the quality of teaching. Participants will be selected on a competitive basis based on motivation and research interests. Priority will be given to early-career researchers (Master and PhD students), but applicants from more advanced stages are also welcome. Participants are expected to bring and use their own laptops with R and RStudio installed, as well as to pay their own transportation and living costs while staying in Barcelona. Lectures will be taught in English. Deadline for application: March 31st, 2023. Applicants will be informed about the results of the selection process by the first week of April 2023. For further information, please contact

Tuition fees and application

The price of individual modules is 300 euros per module, either if you want to follow classes from Barcelona or virtually. We offer a special price of 1000 euros for those applicants willing to take the four modules. The Centre for Demographic Studies subsidizes the cost of the course in order to offer a competitive tuition fee, but cannot offer any other scholarship related to accommodation and/or travel costs.
To formalize the application, please fill the following form and attach a single document with your CV and a motivation letter (1-page maximum).


The BSSD will be held at the Center for Demographics Studies (CED), located on the Campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain. Lectures will be taught from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (theoretical lectures, combined with practical exercises).

MODULE 1: Introduction to R (3/07 to 7/07)

Instructor: Tim Riffe

Session 1 (Monday)
1) Introduction to R and RStudio
2) Using the editor: main characteristics of RStudio, packages
3) Data handling: import/export data to/from R
4) Tidy data
5) Fundamentals of ggplot2

Session 2 (Tuesday)
1) Tidy data wrangling
2) Data processing pipelines
3) Worked examples

Session 3 (Wednesday)
1) Function writing
2) Modularity
3) Using functions in pipelines

Session 4 (Thursday)
1) Conditional execution: the ‘if’ command
2) Introduction to for-loops
3) Combining `if` and for-loops
4) More complex functions

Session 5 (Friday)
1) Join operations
2) Group challenges
3) Review of the module

MODULE 2: Demography with R  (10/07 to 14/07)

Instructor: Marie-Pier Bergeron

Session 1 (Monday)
1) Basic demographic measures
2) The Lexis diagram
3) Rates, probabilities and proportions

Session 2 (Tuesday)
1) Life table
2) Life expectancy
3) The Human Mortality Database (HMD)

Session 3 (Wednesday)
1) Standardization of demographic measures
2) Rate decomposition (Kitagawa method)
3) Life expectancy decomposition (Arriaga method)

Session 4 (Thursday)
1) Population growth
2) Population models
3) The Leslie matrix

Session 5 (Friday)
1) Introduction to population forecast
2) The Lee-Carter model
3) Review of the module

MODULE 3: Data visualization with R (17/07 to 21/07)

Instructor: Ilya Kashnitsky

Session 1 (Monday)
1) Basic dataviz principles
2) Impressive dataviz showcasess
3) Tidy approach to data
4) {ggplot2} basics

Session 2 (Tuesday)
1) More advanced {ggplot2}
2) Colors in dataviz
3) Themes and fonts
4) Population pyramids and animation

Session 3 (Wednesday)
1) Useful types of dataviz
2) Dotplots – the most neglected and powerful type of dataviz
3) Heatmaps, equality-line, ggridges, treemap
4) Ternaty plots and ternary colorcoding

Session 4 (Thursday)
1) the basics of map projections
2) {sf} – the game changer in #rspatial, `geom_sf`
3) Mapping Europe with {eurostat}
4) Mapping the US with {tidycensus}

Session 5 (Friday)
1) dataviz challenge in teams
2) brief presentations by teams and discussion
3) course wrap-up

MODULE 4: Spatial Analysis with R (24/07 to 28/07)

Instructor: Juan Galeano

Session 1 (Monday)
1) Basic data manipulation using dplyr
2) %>% the pipe function
3) Group your data and summarise
4) Tidy your data
5) Plot your data: ggplot2

Session 2 (Tuesday)
1) Read shapefiles into R
2) General manipulation of spatial objects.
3) Univariate Class Intervals
4) Color palettes.
5) Thematic maps (I).

Session 3 (Wednesday)
1) Conversion between projection systems.
2) The ggmap package.
3) Thematic maps (II).

Session 4 (Thursday)
1) Spatial Statistics
2) Neighborhood Matrix.
3) Spatial autocorrelation: Global and Local Indicators of Spatial Autocorrelation (LISA).

Session 5 (Friday)
1) Plot Raster Data.
2) Web-mapping: Leaflet and ggiraph.
3) Animated maps: the gganimate library
4) Review of module.


Ilya Kashnitsky
University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Ilya Kashnitsky is a postdoctoral researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark. He holds BA in Geography from Moscow State University, a master in Demography from National Research University Higher School of Economics and expects to obtain a PhD in Demography from University of Groningen. His research focuses on regional variations in population age structures across Europe, the demographic processes shaping them, their dynamics and possible implications for economies and societies. Ilya is an avid R user and advocate of open science, he runs a blog ( ) that is indexed in R-bloggers project.

Marie-Pier Bergeron
Marie-Pier is an Assistant Professor at the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics (CPop) at the University of Southern Denmark. She is a demographer interested in the study of human mortality, longevity and ageing, with a particular interest in exploring new demographic methods to help understand and forecast changes in health and mortality in industrialised societies. Her research can be divided into three broad strands: i) mortality forecasting, including the development of new models; ii) lifespan differentials, with a focus on developing and applying decomposition methods; iii) changes in the causes of death structure.

Tim Riffe

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany

Tim Riffe is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. His theoretical work focuses on population renewal and temporal relationships over the life course. His empirical work uses original methodological approaches to study relationships between longevity and health in ageing populations, based on both administrative and survey data.

Juan Galeano

NCCR On the Move, Université de Gèneve

Juan Galeano is post-doctoral researcher at the University of Geneve. He holds a PhD in Demography from the Center for Demographic Studies (CED) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Master in Demography from the European Doctoral School of Demography (EDSD), Master in Territorial and Population Studies from CED and UAB, and BA in Sociology from the University of Barcelona (UB). His current research focuses on how life events influences international and internal migration in Switzerland and the construction of longitudinal demographic datasets from crossing administrative registers.


  • Option 1
  • 300€
    per module
  • 1 module
  • Option 2
  • 1000€
    all modules
  • 4 modules