PHDA 03 - Population Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

"The skills I learned in this course really helped my work in a Canada-wide research project that studied “Urban greenness and mortality in Canada’s largest cities.”
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Adele Balram, Database Analyst with the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data, and Training

"The growing importance of spatial thinking in health policy and epidemiology underscores the immense value of this course for researchers and practitioners alike. As a frequent user of GIS, I found this course to be an indispensable update to both my technical skills and theoretical understanding of health geography and spatial data analysis..."
> read more

Blake Walker, PhD student, Geography

GIS  mapping tools: Driving knowledge translation for meaningful social change  > read more

Using GIS to study health care services and utilization - from local to national  > read more


Next course delivery:  September 2020
This course is now available to individuals residing outside of Canada. Please contact Program Coordinator, Ash Moosavi at or 250-721-8779 for more information.

Course description

In this course, students will learn about:

  • the geographic nature of population and public health
  • how geographic data are incorporated into health research
  • key considerations in spatial analysis
  • the applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to health research and population and public health

Throughout the course, students will gain hands-on experience working with a wide range of spatial data and analysis methods using ArcGIS.


Learning objectives

  • Identify the importance of the geographic nature of population health.
  • Explain basic concepts of spatial data as they apply to health data and population health applications.
  • Identify major uses of GIS in population health.
  • Use GIS to map health data.
  • Apply a number of spatial techniques to analyze health data.
  • Critically interpret spatial approaches and methodology in population health.



Admission to the PSC in Population Health Data Analysis or permission of the Faculty Advisor.


Instructor: Joey Syer

Joey SyerJoseph (Joey) Syer is a senior Geomatics Specialist at Hemmera, an Ausenco Company. Joey has over 10 years of experience in GIS and spatial analysis. He holds a BGIS from BCIT, is a registered GISP and a graduate of the PHDA program. To expand on these skills Joey is also studying epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Much of his time is split between the development of novel data analysis & data collection systems and exploring the uses of GIS technology in epidemiology & environmental science. Joey’s interests are in macro geographic processes, spatial epidemiology, ecology and disease transmission (One Health), and python programming.

This course is offered in partnership with the Division of Continuing Studies and Department of Geography at the University of Victoria.


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Page last revised: July 9, 2020