Remote Sensing for Environmental Scientists

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1176
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Meredith Williams



The aim of this course is to introduce the students to the concepts and principles behind remote sensing and photogrammetry, and their applications to environmental science challenges. The course will explore the characteristics of remotely sensed data, their collection, processing, and display. This course also aims to introduce basic image processing techniques through ‘hands-on’ experience. During this course, students are introduced to a wide variety of remote sensing platforms and sensors. Students get extensive practical experience in dealing with a varied range of remotely sensed environmental data using ERDAS Imagine and ESRI ArcGIS. The course also aims to briefly explore the theory and techniques of analogue and digital photogrammetry.

Learning outcomes

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

1 Understand the key concepts and terms used in the fields of remote sensing and photogrammetry.

2 Critically evaluate the role and limitations of a broad range of remotely sensed imagery types in a variety of environmental contexts.
3 Understand the principles of photogrammetry and critically review its use in environmental survey problems.

4 Determine the optimum combination of statistically valid field calibration and validation activities, image pre-processing, and remote sensing analysis, for an environmental issue.

Indicative content

The nature of electromagnetic spectrum.
Interaction of radiation with the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface.
Introduction to remote sensing platforms and sensors.
Spatial data capture and data types.
Pre-processing and enhancement of digital imagery.
Digital analysis of multispectral imagery.
Applications of vegetation analysis, mineral extraction from imagery, and image classification.
Introduction to aerial photographs and photogrammetry.
Interpretation of aerial photographs, including analogue and digital photogrammetry techniques.
Scale determination from aerial photographs.
Introduction to stereo aerial photographs and 3D spatial data.

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 and associated field data collection 50% of contact.


Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Image Analysis Report
Outcomes assessed:1,2,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :60%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length:2,000
Outline Details: A critical evaluation of how effective remotely sensed imagery is for geological AND/OR land cover interpretation.
Students are required to process remotely sensed imagery and critically reflect on the results of the analysis. The processing involves techniques such as Normalised Difference Vegetation Index, Clay Enhancement, Ferrous Mineral Enhancement, Principal Components Analysis and Hard Classification. Students are expected to carry out supervised and independent fieldwork to ground validate the results produced in the lab and will critically evaluate the results in a 2000 word report.

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Photogrammetry Assignment
Outcomes assessed: 3
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % : 40%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: N/A – short answer pro-forma
Outline Details: The Photogrammetry Assignment comprises a series of short-answer questions, to be answered on a pro-forma. The questions cover calculating scale differences within an aerial photograph due to flying height, measuring distances and object dimensions using stereo imagery, mapping of land cover in the field using aerial photographs and use of these photographs as an aid to ground validation.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
In-class discussions and feedback. Workshop feedback.