BA Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Feminist Geographies of Health

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG31021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will investigate the social, political, economic, and spatial processes that shape the uneven distribution of health, disease, and health care. Importantly, this happens through a feminist geographic lens. Beginning with a critical and broad understanding of what health is, the course will introduce students to how diseases and health are socially constructed and how health is experienced differently across space and population, as well as ways to historically ground analyses of health. This course will draw on examples from multiple scales, from the body to the global, and from around the world, although North America and the UK will be the primary focus. This course asks: How can geography help us better understand issues of health and disease? And how are matters of health geographic concerns? How can approaching health as feminist geographers be especially useful? The module is divided into two sections. The first section, The Body, develops, over 5 weeks, an intersectional feminist analysis of health that brings together intimate, personal, bodily aspects of health with structures that influence people’s abilities to access good health. The second half of the module applies the intersectional, feminist geographic analysis to a series of topics in health geography. Some of these topics are expected and some unexpected. Overall, this course module asks students to think of differently and spatially about health and health care.



  • Introduce students to the field of health and medical geography and provide a critical review of the concepts and debates around health, from a feminist geographic perspective.
  • Approach the study of health broadly, understanding a multitude of issues as concerns of health geography
  • Examine the ways that our understandings of health and diseases are socially constructed and have spatial implications
  • Consider the changing role of heath care institutions, systems, and workers in the world today
  • Develop various skills including critical thinking, analysis, and research, as well as developing argumentation skills


Learning outcomes



Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be delivered through weekly two-hour lectures and one-hour seminars. Students are required to read the assigned key texts and encouraged to read the recommended texts. Texts will be a mix of scholarly sources and popular media, as well as video and audio. All course readings will be available through the University library.

This course requires a high level of student participation. Lectures are interactive and include discussions of the readings, so come to lectures prepared to engage and having read the key texts for the week. Lecture sessions include a mix of lecture, discussion, media, and activities. Seminars focus on assessment preparation, seminar-style discussions, and close engagements with course texts and materials. Regular attendance and engagement at both lectures and seminars is required to succeed in this module.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand theoretical debates surrounding geography and health 
  • Understand how historical and global inequalities shape health, health care, and disease

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the social and political construction of health, health care, and disease
  • Apply a feminist geographic perspective to the study of health

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate an ability to use sources to support original arguments

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical thinking, writing and argumentation, communicating complex ideas, and self-directed learning
  • Researching, analysing, and developing original arguments from primary and secondary sources 
  • Critically engaging with and contributing to debates on health, health care, and care


Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit (if relevant)

Coursework 1: Critical Analysis


Coursework 2: Essay Proposal


Coursework 3: Major Essay

1000 words


1000 words


2000 words







Feedback methods

  • Verbal feedback during seminar discussion sessions
  • Verbal feedback during lectures and seminars, as well as on any issues during consultation hours
  • Written feedback on the coursework assessment
  • Written feedback on the exam assessment


Recommended reading

The tentative read list for week 1 is as follows: 


Loyd, Jenna. (2014). Introduction and Chapter 7: Where is Health? In Health Rights are Civil Rights: Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963-1978. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Smyth, Fiona. (2008). Medical geography: understanding health inequalities, Progress in Human Geography, 32(1): 119-127. DOI: 10.1177/0309132507080628 


Kearns, R. & Moon, G. (2002). From medical to health geography: novelty, place and theory       after a decade of change. Progress in Human Geography, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 605-625. 10.1191/0309132502ph389oa

Navarro, Vicente and Leiyu Shi. (2001). The political context of social inequalities and health, Social Science and Medicine. 52(3): 481-91. 10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00197-0

Smith, Susan J. and Donna Easterlow. (2005). The strange geography of health inequalities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 30(2): 173-190. 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2005.00159.x

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caitlin Henry Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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