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Geographies of Health

Module titleGeographies of Health
Module codeGEO3138
Academic year2018/9
Module staff


Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will critically engage with the key issues examined in health geography, a diverse sub-discipline informed by theory and method from across geography as well as the wider sciences (social, physical, health) and humanities. Through diverse learning opportunities (lectures, readings, discussions, workshops, computer exercise) you will explore the significance of space and place in mediating health outcomes and opportunities, and will learn about how geographic knowledges are increasingly leveraged for health promotion and the delivery of health care. There are no pre-requisites for this module, although experience in social, economic or political geography and an interest in interdisciplinarity will be an asset. No specialised computer skills or knowledge are required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the geographies of health and health care. Through immersion in a diverse range of health geographic research, the module will provide you with the tools to engage in current debates on health at a range of scales – from the body to the global. The module will illustrate how health and health care are an important battleground for wider societal struggles – around such issues as equity, power, social/environmental justice, global change, neoliberalism and human rights. The module draws on wider contemporary research by health geographers as well as the specific research activities of the module convenor, including research on the geographies of healthcare accessibility, injury risk and responsibility, and spatial data and technologies in public health surveillance.

The key specific aims of this module are to:

  • Explore shifting definitions of health through a critical historical lens
  • Situate health geography within the broader geographic discipline and its related disciplines
  • Outline the unique theoretical contributions of health geography
  • Interpret the extent to which the influence of geography on health and health care is recognised outside the discipline
  • Explore the epistemological and methodological breadth of health geography, and understand how they are applied to different research questions and produce diverse health geographic knowledges
  • Interrogate the links between academic health research and the public- and policy spheres.
  • Analyse and interpret geographic health data
  • Evaluate and critique health policies

The module is designed to enhance employability through two formative assessments that reflect workplace activities, a data analysis and mapping practical and a group-based policy analysis activity and presentation, as well as small group discussion workshops. The positive graduate attributes the module seeks to develop include:

  • Applied skills in health data acquisition, management, and mapping
  • Confidence in assessing, interpreting and critically evaluating quantitative data and spatial patterns
  • Applied skills in health policy evaluation techniques and document analysis
  • Group management and interpersonal skills, and confidence in sharing personal opinions in workshops and delivering verbal presentations as a group

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe what is meant by health, in contemporary and historical perspectives
  • 2. Identify the core ways in which geography is important to and influences health and the delivery of health care services
  • 3. Critically assess the position of geographic analysis in the wider arena of health research, policy and practice
  • 4. Identify the core theoretical and empirical modes of knowledge production in health geography, and its specific theoretical and methodological contributions to the wider geographic discipline
  • 5. Critically interrogate the connections between academic health geography and health policy-makers and stakeholders

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Critically evaluate the range of theories and methodological approaches used in human geography
  • 7. Recognise the importance of geographic perspectives for understanding contemporary societal challenges
  • 8. Explain the significance of spatial relationships as influences upon physical and human environments
  • 9. Communicate geographical ideas and perspectives through written, visual and oral means

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Develop effective independent learning skills, including academic literature search and time management skills
  • 11. Critically interpret and evaluate reports and research-based articles
  • 12. Present material to support a reasoned and consistent argument, both verbally and in writing
  • 13. Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise data from a range of sources
  • 14. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently by written, visual and oral means
  • 15. Use C&IT effectively and appropriately to select, analyse and present information
  • 16. Collaborate as a member of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of group objectives

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Part 1: Introduction to the geographies of health

  • Lectures

Part 2: Theory, epistemology and method in the geographies of health

  • Lectures
  • Practical: Computer exercise on spatial health data analysis and visualisation
  • Summative Assessment Workshop: Essay preparation

Part 3: Health system geographies

  • Lectures
  • Formative Assessment Workshop: group work and presentation preparation
  • Group presentations

Part 4: Spaces of health care

  • Lectures
  • Group presentations

Conclusion, revision and exam preparation

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching24Lectures, seminar discussions and presentations
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Computer practical
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Workshops
Guided Independent Study16Seminar and workshop preparation
Guided Independent Study80Reading and research
Guided Independent Study24Revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Computer practical2 hours1-15Oral
Group presentation10-15 minutesAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402000 words1-15Written
Examination602 hours1-15Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-15August ref/def
ExaminationExamination1-15August ref/def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Aitken, S. & Valentine, G. (Eds.) (2006) Approaches to Human Geography. London: Sage. [available through library online and in print]
  • Anthamatten, P., and Hazen, H (2011) An Introduction to the Geography of Health. London: Routledge. [available through library online and in print]
  • Biehl, J. & Petryna, A. (Eds.) (2013) When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health: Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Brown, T., McLafferty, S. and Moon, G. (eds) (2010) A Companion to Health and Medical Geography. Chichester: Blackwell.
  • Curtis, S. (2004) Health and Inequality: Geographical Perspectives, London: Sage.
  • Cromley, E. K. & McLafferty, S. L. (2012) GIS and Public Health.New York: Guilford. [available through library online and in print]
  • Farmer, P., Kleinman, A., Kim, J. & Basilico, M. (Eds.) (2013) Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
  • Foucault, M. (1975) The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. New York: Vintage. [available through library online and in print]
  • Gatrell, A., C. & Elliott, S., J. (2009) Geographies of Health: An Introduction. Chichester: Blackwell.
  • Gesler, W. M. (1992) The Cultural Geography of Health Care.Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • Kearns, R. A. (1993) Place and health - Towards a reformed medical geography. Professional Geographer, 45, 139-147.
  • Kearns, R. & Moon, G. (2002) From medical to health geography: novelty, place and theory after a decade of change. Progress in Human Geography, 26, 605-625.
  • Meade, Melinda S. (2010) Medical Geography. New York: Guilford.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Health geography, health care, social justice, health policy, global change, political economy, equity

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


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