Outdoor Environments for Health and Well-being

Published: 19 October 2017

This programme is designed for students who want to specialise in interactions between people and outdoor environments, with emphasis on effects on health and well-being. Such competence is applicable in planning, design and evaluation of everyday environments, health-care institutions etc.

Health and well-being for people in everyday life depend of a varying degree on the quality of the surrounding environment, on interactions with the plants and animals in natural or created green open spaces, in urban as well as rural areas. This programme is designed for students who are particularly interested in such interactions, with emphasis on effects resulting from human/environment interactions, based primarly on theories in environmental psychology. On completion of this Master's programme, students will have skills and competence to evaluate and develop physical environments adapted to people's needs and demands on both a local and strategic level.

What kind of work

The competence achieved from completing this programme is potentially important in many situations, particularly in the light of the increasing stress levels of modern society and growing awareness of the importance of the restorative effects of nature and green open space. This would include all professions involved in planning and design of environments in health-care, schools and public space.

UN's sustainable development goals in the education

SLU's educations creates knowledge which contributes to the goals for sustainable development, both in Sweden and internationally. 


This is what you study

This programme is aimed for students from different academic or professional fields. It provides scientific perspectives and concepts within the relevant subjects in an interdisciplinary context which can be used to understand and explain the interactions between people and the physical outdoor environment, as well as to apply the acquired knowledge in different societal contexts.

Examples of subjects include the interdisciplinary research discipline that studies nature-assisted therapy/health promotion and the role of outdoor environments for learning and development, e.g. within outdoor education and habilitation. It also include broader perspectives such as spatial planning or landscape design informed by environmental psychology. Special attention is given the importance of outdoor environments for individual development, quality of life, well-being and health.

National and international approaches to integration of green environments in an urbanisation/densification context focusing on public health through access to natural environments are studied. The health aspects will cover promotion as well as illness prevention and treatment. These concepts include an understanding of the influence of green environments with indirect (e.g. increased physical activity) as well as direct (e.g. reduced negative effects of stress) health effects.

The programme also deals with the specific role of public space in relation to emotions and restorative mechanisms important for public health. Students are given assignments to practice various methods used to survey the use, experience and effects of different outdoor environments such as gardens, parks, forests and other types of natural environments and public spaces, including the role of animals in everyday life.

Each course contains 2 to 4 campus meetings, which each consists of 1 to 3 days of lessons and examinations.
When applying, you can choose to study the programme at full time or part time.

Want to know more? You can read the syllabus at the student web. 

Future prospects

With the growing concern for public well-being follows a growing demand for experts in preventive measures to promote public health and reduce stress levels. This is applicable in a wide range of professions involving such areas as landscape planners, nursing personnel, and school administrators.

Where you can work

Professionals within this field may find positions in public institutions, e.g. municipalities, health-care institutions, regional government, schools etc. or as consultants in private enterprises, architect firms, housing companies, and private health-care.

Continuing education

SLU offers a range of master’s level courses in landscape architecture. Students completing a master’s degree within the programme will also be eligible for post graduate studies.


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