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

Next course delivery:  September to December 2024

This course is now available to individuals residing outside of Canada. Please contact Program Coordinator, Ann Greenwood at or 250-721-8627 for more information.

Learn the power of GIS: explore the who, when and where behind health interventions, exposures, and outcomes

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 QGIS.

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.
  • QGIS software will be introduced in this course. 

This course is eligible for the StrongerBC future skills grant. To register using this grant please first review your eligibility.

Instructor: Lizz Piccoli

Lizz PiccoliLizz Piccoli is a data analyst at the Population and Public Health Observatory at Fraser Health where she works as part of several portfolios including non-communicable diseases, toxic drug poisoning and planetary health. She completed her MPH and MID at the University of Pittsburgh where she was a FLAS fellowship recipient and a graduate teaching assistant for upper-level undergraduate courses. Her primary research interests focus on the impact of natural disasters and migration on the continuation of care for ongoing health conditions. She is extremely passionate about the ways in which geospatial sciences can be used in partnership with epidemiological best practices to increase health equity by improving healthcare system planning and optimization.

Lizz has over 5 years of geospatial mapping experience using R, ArcGIS and Geoda, and over 10 years of experience using a variety of statistical software including R, SAS, STATA, SPSS and Python. Her previous research has taken her all over the world, where she has had the unique opportunity to manage or assist with research in India, Namibia, South Africa, China and the United States.


UVic logoThis program has been developed by Population Data BC in partnership with the Division of Continuing Studies, University of Victoria.

For further details, visit the Division of Continuing Studies webpage.

Course overview

Watch this video for an introduction to the PHDA course.