The graduate degree programs in the Department of Geography and Environment are strongly research oriented, and the completion of a thesis is the main focus at both the Masters and PhD levels. The Department offers several different programs leading to MA, MSc, and PhD degrees with specific strengths in the areas of:

Environment, Development and Health

The environment, development and health cluster focuses on the ways that human societies are transforming the natural world, and the ways that biophysical changes, political environments, and social inequality together impact human health and well-being. Research in health geography is generally more focused in Canada, including both Indigenous and settler communities, and examines a range of topics including: environmental hazards, risk perceptions, inequalities, air pollution, processes of environmental dispossession, and relations between urban form and children’s health and quality of life. Environmental justice is a prominent theme in the development-oriented research in the cluster, both in Indigenous and settler communities in Canada, as well as in a range of international settings. This involves work on agriculture and food systems, energy systems and resource extraction, environmental repossession, Indigenous knowledge, and water management – all of which increasingly interrelate to climate change at some level.

Faculty members in the EDH cluster employ a range of methodologies and approaches, and have collaborative links with the physical geography, urban studies and Geographical Information Science clusters within the department. They also have active connections to researchers in other departments and faculties across the university and at other universities inside and outside of Canada, and several members work closely with government, private sector, communities and non-profit organizations.

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Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Theoretical and applied studies of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and cartography. Interests in GIS include: spatial modeling and visualization, database structures and pattern recognition. Application of GIS to: urban land use, locational analysis, wildlife habitat, wetlands, arctic soils and vegetation, glacier dynamics, and landscape. Planetary cartography and mapping of asteroids. Applications of remote sensing to resource management, cartography, and earth surface processes (including vegetation patterns, river channel form, and urban surface temperatures).

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Physical Geography

Studies of earth surface processes in hydrology, geomorphology, climatology, biogeography and pedology using instrumented field sites, terrain analysis, remote sensing and GIS. Current projects include urban heat island, forest fragmentation, subglacial hydrology, and fluvial sediment transport.

Environmental change studies include: paleoenvironmental reconstructions using dendrochronology and dendrogeomorphology, paleolimnology and environmental archeology, the response of river and vegetation systems to environmental change, and modified climates in urban areas.

Regional emphases include the Rocky Mountains, Canadian High Arctic, southwestern Ontario and the Boreal Plains.

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Urban Studies

Cities are confusing places: in some locales, we find rapid economic growth, with an infusion of firms and high-paying jobs; in others, we find clusters of dilapidated housing and high crime rates. The range of issues across the social and economic landscape is also perplexing. What causes these phenomena to occur? Urban Studies research focuses on phenomenon and societal issues in the context of cities. The research topics include urban development, urban land and real estate economics, urban morphology, planning, housing, health, history, culture and geomatics. Current projects by members of the Department of Geography and Environment include research on: recent decline in the downtown quaternary functions in North American cities; spatial demographics of educational demand; urban opportunities for youth gambling; urban environmental influences on childhood obesity; geographic studies of paediatric trauma; urban forms for seniors' independence and mobility; property acquisition and social mobility; spatial patterning of urban crime; geographies of personal networks; urban demographics and housing choices; uncertainty and household mobility; and the Imag(in)ing London historical GIS project.

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The Department has excellent research, analytical and computing facilities. Our large and active group of graduate students and faculty conduct research in locations all over the world - see the brochure link on our research opportunities page.

We invite you to explore this website and to contact Lori Johnson, our Graduate Program Administrator, or Professor Jeff Hopkins our Graduate Chair, for more information on our program. We also invite applicants to visit Western, tour the university and the department's facilities, and meet possible supervisors and current graduate students. Please contact Lori Johnson to make arrangements.