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 offer an introduction to R for which no previous knowledge is required. For the other modules, basic knowledge in R is required. 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.


Due to the COVID19 situation, this year we offer a hybrid modality of participation. If selected candidates can travel to Barcelona, they can attend classes at CED in case the instructor is also here, but they will be also welcome to follow classes from CED in case the instructor is not in Barcelona. If participants cannot make it to Barcelona, he/she will follow classes virtually. Face-to-face participation will be limited to 10 students per module to be in line with sanitary restrictions in Spain. 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 2021. Applicants will be informed about the results of selection process by the first week of April 2021. 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).


Send your application:


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 (28/06 to 02/07)

Instructor: Francisco Villavicencio

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  (5/07 to 9/07)

Instructor: Tim Riffe

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 (12/07 to 16/07)

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 (19/07 to 23/07)

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.


Francisco Villavicencio
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Francisco Villavicencio is an Assistant Scientist at the Department of International Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a demographer and statistician interested in the study of how population dynamics affect public health and aging. His research focuses on the development of innovative methods to analyze incomplete demographic data, with special emphasis on mortality, causes of death and computational demography. He has experience in teaching demography, statistics, mathematics and R programming at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

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