Introduction to Geographical Information Systems

Module summary

Module code: GEOG1035
Level: 5
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Meredith Williams



The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts and principal techniques used by Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a rapidly evolving discipline within environmental science, sustainable development, geography, planning, health, and business management. This module combines theory and practical exercises to help explain the basic requirements for creating and managing a GIS using a varied range of spatial data, intended to ensure that students have the necessary skills in spatial data management for design of effective level 6 dissertation projects. The module also provides a solid foundation in digital cartography.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

1 .Demonstrate their appreciation of the concepts of Geographical Information Systems and understanding of GIS spatial data requirements and limitations.
2. Demonstrate ability to capture, convert, manage, manipulate and analyse spatial and non-spatial data appropriately using GIS technology.
3. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the importance of metadata and effective data visualisation.
4. Demonstrate critical awareness of the technical issues in GIS development and usage.

Indicative content

Introduction to GIS principles: components and functions. Introduction to spatial data concepts: raster and vector-based GIS and data structures.
Spatial data sources: land records, census aggregates, digitised maps, satellite images and aerial photographs, digitised cross sections, etc.
Spatial data acquisition, conversion and pre-processing.
Data manipulations: attribute operations, area/distance calculations.
Single layer analyses.
Multiple layer analyses.
Data output, effective visualisation techniques and digital map creation.
Total quality management: measuring error, accuracy and precision, data and processing quality.
Introduction to new technology within the GIS industry.
Geographical information management and associated policies.
Current and future trends in GIS industry

Teaching and learning activity

Introductory lectures to explain theoretical principles and concepts are followed by computer-based learning exercises to apply the theory into practice. Lectures 50% of contact; Computer lab-based practicals 50% of contact.


Poster: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1 and 4.
Outline Details: Students are required to produce an A0 sized conference Style poster for a GIS application. Each student MUST choose a different topic.

Project: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 2 & 3.
Word Length:2000 words (up to 15 pages equivalent).
Outline Details:
GIS Project: A multi-criteria analysis-based project will assess students on their practical skills learned during the module.

Formative Assessment supporting student learning:
Poster: Feedback in class discussions. Project: Workshop sessions and feedback.