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: Anders Erickson

Anders Erickson obtained his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, an epidemiology focused program with the Division of Medical Sciences and the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, and his MSc in Community Health Sciences at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). His research interests are varied, but predominantly focus on the spatial and environmental epidemiology of non-communicable diseases and the social determinants of health. His PhD dissertation used small area spatial and multilevel analyses to model the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and gestational diabetes relating to air pollution exposure and its possible interaction with social and behavioural factors. Anders is currently a post-doctoral research and teaching fellow with the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

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: June 8, 2020