Geography (GEOG) 320

Health, Wellbeing, and Geography (Revision 1)

GEOG 320 course cover

Permanently closed, effective May 17, 2018.

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Human Geography home page

GEOG 320 has a Challenge for Credit option


As far back as ancient Greece, humans have recognized the connection between health and geography. The purpose of this course is to equip students with a variety of theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and techniques for understanding the linkages among health, wellbeing, and the environment. The course explores how human health is shaped by human-environment relations, as well as by particular spatial arrangements of material, social, and cultural resources. We will examine multiple spatial arrangements and relations at global, national, and urban scales, including everyday places such as neighborhoods, workplaces, and residential dwellings. An overarching theme in the course is that the places where we live, work, and play, and how we relate to them, are inextricably entangled with our health and wellbeing in profound and surprising ways. Moreover, these places and their health effects are themselves shaped by broader relations and processes operating at scales beyond the everyday. On the surface this may seem to be a rather simple conception, but on closer examination these “geographies” have far-reaching societal and global implications.

The main academic touchstones for this course are the sub-disciplines of medical and health geography. The course serves as an introduction to how geographers have approached the study of health and wellbeing over the past twenty-five years, and to the main subjects of medical and health geography:

  • the geography of health inequality
  • the planning and delivery of health services
  • mobility and health
  • disability and space
  • environmental hazards
  • the impact of global environmental change on human health

Course Learning Objectives

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to

  1. define fundamental concepts in medical and health geography such as health, wellbeing, location, space, place, and landscape.
  2. define and describe the basic theoretical approaches and analytical techniques used by medical and health geographers.
  3. explain why population health varies among countries and regions of the world.
  4. explain the significance of distance, space, and place in health care provision.
  5. explain the relationships among housing, neighborhoods, and health.
  6. explain the relationship between geographic mobility and health.
  7. explain the relationships among impairment, disability, and space.
  8. describe the significance of space and place in the understanding of environmental risk.
  9. identify linkages between global environmental change and human health.
  10. describe the impact of economic and cultural globalization on human health.


The course consists of the following units.

  • Unit 1 Health, Wellbeing . . . and Geography?
  • Unit 2 Health, Inequality, and Geography
  • Unit 3 Space, Place, and the Changing Landscape of Care
  • Unit 4 Mobility and Health
  • Unit 5 Impairment, Disability, and Space
  • Unit 6 Environmental Risk and Health
  • Unit 7 Climate, Weather, and Wellbeing
  • Unit 8 Reflecting on Wellbeing and the Geographies of Health


To receive credit for this course, you must complete five assignments, write five quizzes, participate in online discussion, and write a final examination. You must achieve a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination and achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent).

The following chart summarizes the evaluation activities for Geography 320 and the credit weight associated with each.

Evaluation Activity Percentage of Final Grade
Assignment 1: Visualizing Health in Everyday Environments 5%
Assignment 2: Medical Landscapes 10%
Assignment 3a: Essay Proposal 5%
Assignment 3b: Annotated Bibliography 10%
Assignment 3c: Research Essay 20%
Research and Communication Skills Tutorial Quizzes 10%
Discussion Assignments 10%
Final Examination 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Gatrell, Anthony C., & Elliott, Susan J. (2015). Geographies of health: An introduction (3rd ed.). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Other Materials

All other materials are online, including study guides, and electronic readings and videos.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the GEOG 320 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 50%
Exam 50%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, August 08, 2016.