NS7906: Geographical Information Systems: Mapping and Remote Sensing

NS7906: Geographical Information Systems: Mapping and Remote Sensing

Please note this module descriptor is indicative of the structure of this course and may be subject to change.

Module Title Geographical Information Systems: Mapping and Remote Sensing
Module Code NS7906
Module Tutor Robert Berry
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 7
Brief Description

This module provides the student with the opportunity to acquire hands-on skills in data acquisition management, analysis and presentation of spatial data using GIS (and, to a lesser extent, remote sensing software). Students will also develop an appreciation of the key underpinning principles and theoretical context of GIS. Practical GIS skills are introduced and developed using industry standard software (ArcGIS, QGIS, and ERDAS Imagine). The module is organized to integrate GIS information and applications across a wide range of ecological and environmental sectors, and involves engagement with practitioners who are actively using GIS in industry and academic research. Please note that while no prior knowledge of GIS is required for this module, students will be expected to have good generic ICT skills.

Indicative Syllabus

This module covers:


1. GIS definitions & terminology: knowledge of raster and vector approaches, spatial data structures and formats, geometry and attributes).


2. Building a GIS database (ArcGIS): data capture by GPS survey, Ordnance Survey downloads, aerial photography, web-based (e.g. Google Earth), satellite & remotely sensed images (ERDAS Imagine).


3. Analysis techniques: including multi-criteria suitability mapping (QGIS and ArcGIS); vector data calculations of distance, area and buffer functions; digital terrain & surface modelling: gradient, aspect, zones of visibility. Testing hypotheses: modelling hazard occurrence, pollution, disease and environmental impact.


4. GIS cartographic output: display of spatial data, professional presentation and visualisation techniques.


5. GIS applications: in research, government and industry. Importance of spatial data in solving real-world ecological and environmental management problems. Potential future developments of GIS, web-based innovations.

Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to:

  1. explain in depth how GIS functions;
  2. demonstrate an ability to use and evaluate GIS packages;
  3. articulate a critical understanding and awareness of how GIS can be used in ecological and environmental contexts;
  4. evaluate the relative importance of and integrate material from a variety of sources, including digital and field-based data;
  5. critically evaluate the use that different agencies make of GIS, from local, regional, national, European and international perspectives;
  6. demonstrate effective individual problem-solving skills within a GIS setting.
Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 36
Independent Learning Hours: 114
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 35% Assignment: Individual: 1500 words or equivalent
002: 65% Portfolio: 2500 words or equivalent
Special Assessment Requirements None
Indicative Resources The current reading list can be found in the Module Guide, which your lecturer should make available via Moodle.

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