Population Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Code: PHDA03
Apply this course towards: Population Health Data Analysis

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 requirements

Admission to the Professional Specialization Certificate in Population Health Data Analysis or permission from the program to take up to two courses for professional development. Please note: in addition to other course fees, new students will be charged a one-time $100 secure ID token fee when registering for their first course. (Please unclick this box if you have already paid this fee.)


  • Admission to the PSC in Population Health Data Analysis or permission of the Faculty Advisor.
  • ArcGIS software will be introduced in this course; no previous experience is required. If you would like to start pre-course ArcGIS orientation before enrollment in this course, please contact the Program Assistant at phda@uvic.ca


This course is eligible for the StrongerBC future skills grant. To register using this grant please first review your eligibility and then select the StrongerBC future skills grant fee type below. 


If space is available, you may take PHDA03 as a stand-alone course for professional development. Non-certificate students must meet the same prerequisites as certificate students.

Minimum registration requirement

This course may be cancelled if the minimum enrollment requirement is not met by the registration deadline.

Our students say...

"This course is a rich and nuanced exploration of the interplay of spatial associations between population health and exposure to multiple risk factors including pathogen/toxin load, socio-economic influences and 'built environment' indices. Well-paced and supported 'labs' move from mapping skills and associated ethics to the use of spatial statistics in assessing distribution in populatin health. Required readings are current and wide-ranging. The final project provides a wonderful opportunity to use acquired tools to explore in depth a personal research project of interest.

I highly recommend this course to all in population health - from analysts and city planners to physicians and veterinarians. The power of GIS to put "place" into the population health equation is a powerful tool. This course illuminates this exceptionally."

-C. Rymes, D.V.M., M.Sc., Amycus Environmental Inc.

To see what other students are saying about this course, please visit https://www.popdata.bc.ca/etu/testimonials.

Registration details

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Info you should know:

Continuing Studies statement on use of educational technology

This course will require the use of Zoom and may use other education technology such as internet-based applications, cloud services, or social media. In order to complete this course you will be required to either consent to the disclosure of your personal information outside of Canada to enable use of these technologies, or work with the Division of Continuing Studies to explore other privacy protective options (such as using an alias or nickname).