MSc Occupational Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Public Health Benefits of Green and Blue Space

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH65031
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course unit is aimed at students who have an interest in, or work in, public health and/or primary care or similar settings, especially those in local authorities and other local, community service delivery organisations. Public health professionals need to have a good understanding of how the local environment affects the health of the populations they serve. The positive health effects of spending time in and around natural environments have become well documented. We value our green spaces, such as parks and forests, and blue spaces, such as canals, lakes and coastal areas. These natural benefits to health also have important, additional benefits as mitigating measures against climate change. There are recent calls for the instigation of ‘green prescribing’ to encourage patients to grasp the opportunity to improve their health and wellbeing without the use of medication and other costly interventions offered by health and social services. By educating future public health professionals in these opportunities, we further the possibility of improving health and local environments and reducing the burden on overstretched services.


This unit is mandatory for the Environment and Public Health stream.


  • Synthesise the evidence base relating to the beneficial impacts on health and wellbeing of having access to green space and blue space
  • Investigate the additional co-benefits gained by the provision of green and blue space, such as social and natural capital
  • Introduce green space, blue space and urban design policies and actions taken to improve access and encourage usage, such as green prescribing 
  • Develop understanding of the specific health impacts, interventions, and design options which will allow public health professionals to create policies and practices and, design and deliver appropriate services for the setting in which they work

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, successful students will be able to:
  • Critically synthesise and analyse the impact of green and blue space on health and wellbeing in different settings, both locally and globally.
  • Systematically analyse the policies and measures aimed at increasing access to green and blue space and encourage usage and associated impacts on health and wellbeing.
  • Systematically appraise and evaluate research, for example, from planning, urban design, green and blue space and effects on health and wellbeing, both locally and globally.
  • Critically identify and analyse additional impacts of green and blue space provision and evaluate effectiveness.



  • Introduction to green and blue spaces and urbanisation
  • Urban planning and design
  • Green and blue space and health and wellbeing
  • Quality or quantity?  Standards and indicators
  • Green prescribing and the health services
  • Green infrastructure
  • Co-benefits of green and blue space provision
  • Green and blue space – a global perspective
  • Inspiration from around the world
  • The future of urban green and blue spaces

Teaching and learning methods

This online course unit will include text provided by the tutors along with required and additional reading of articles, policies and media publications. It will include reflective study tasks and discussions hosted on Blackboard. There will be a graded assignment at the end of the unit. During the midterm break, students will have an opportunity to prepare for the assignment and get feedback from the tutors. 
Material provided will be diverse in nature, reflecting the wealth of information available. Peer-reviewed publications will be highlighted and key publications from international research and conferences in the context of both science and politics. Media articles and videos will also be included to demonstrate the wide interest in the topic. Students will be encouraged to research and explore independently. 
Topic specific intended learning outcomes outlined for each week of the course will supplement the intended learning outcomes.
Specialists will be invited to contribute to the subject material and provide webinars (live and recorded) allowing students to gain knowledge from experts in the field.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will critically analyse approaches to urban planning, and public spaces and infrastructure provision, and apply their knowledge to the development of place specific and appropriate policies and interventions,
Students will be encouraged to acknowledge their responsibility in advocating adaptive responses to protecting the health of their specific communities through the inclusion of health and green and blue spaces in appropriate policies, strategies and plans.
Project management
Students will need to demonstrate understanding of project management skills in their choice of approach to the assignments and use planning techniques to ensure their completion.
Oral communication
Students will be equipped to communicate with urban planners and improve their ability to undertake collegial working practices. Students will be able to argue the evidentiary case for the provision of high quality, accessible green and blue spaces.

Assessment methods

Written assignment (or equivalent)

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their final summative assignments (2,500-3,000 words) within 20 working days for final submission.
Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit.

Recommended reading

No required text.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christine Greenhalgh Unit coordinator

Additional notes

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the course unit leader, Christine Greenhalgh, via email at If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme team at

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