BA Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

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
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.



  • To 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 perspective;
  • To study health broadly, approaching myriad issues from the perspective of health geography;
  • To examine how health and diseases are socially constructed and have spatial implications;
  • To consider the changing role of heath care institutions, systems, and workers in the world today;
  • To develop various skills including critical thinking, analysis, and research, as well as developing argumentation skills;
  • To develop students’ awareness of social responsibility through their sense of themselves as political actors embedded in relations, communities, and collectives

Learning outcomes

Students will develop skills related to collecting, analysing, and synthesizing primary data sources. Students will develop skills related to communicating complex ideas in efficient and effective ways. Students will develop skills related to self-directed learning, working, and task completion.

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. Participation happens in a variety of ways. 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

  • Explain the theoretical debates surrounding geography and health

Intellectual skills

  • Apply a feminist geographic perspective to the study of health geography
  • Interpret the spatial, social, and political construction of health, healthcare, and diseases
  • Appraise and compare how historical and global inequalities shape health, healthcare, and disease

Practical skills

  • Interpret primary sources related to health geography
  • Synthesize primary and secondary data to construct original arguments on the geography of health

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communicate complex ideas in efficient and effective writing
  • Solve problems through self-directed learning
  • Develop awareness of social responsibility and the politics of health

Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit

Coursework 1: Critical Analysis


Coursework 2: Essay Proposal


Coursework 3: Major Essay

1000 words


1000 words


2000 words







Feedback methods

Coursework 1: Due in Week 4, Feedback provided through Blackboard in accordance with University guidelines

Coursework 2: Due in week 8 with written feedback provided through Blackboard in accordance with University guidelines and verbal feedback in seminars dedicated to coursework prep

Coursework 3: Feedback provided through Blackboard in accordance with University guidelines


Recommended reading

The tentative reading 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 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caitlin Henry Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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