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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Principles of Geographical Information Science (Block1) (PGGE11067)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryMany areas of research in the Geosciences benefit from quantitative and spatial analysis techniques. Geographical Information Science (GIS) is concerned with the theory and application of computer based techniques to reason about, and solve, geographical problems. The range of applications include marketing, analysis of census data, and environmental problem solving applied across a range of scales from the local to the global. There are considerable challenges in modelling geographic phenomenon; what data should be recorded? How can different data be integrated? What types of analysis are appropriate and what generalisations can be inferred from our observations. This then, is an intensive five week, 10 credit course, providing a theoretical and practical introduction to GIS that variously covers these topics.
Course description This short, intensive, introductory course provides an essential background for students with limited knowledge of Geographic Information Science and as a foundation for other courses. The module begins by tracing the origins and recent rapid development of GIS and outlines linkages with other related technologies. Principles covered include co-ordinate reference systems, map projections and the different models that GIS employ to represent real-world entities. Also considered are the effects that these models and the analytical functionality of systems have on the information that can be derived. Vector and raster data models are explained and there is an introduction to representing and analysing 3D, terrain data. Basic elements of graphic design and communication are reviewed to ensure that output from GIS is comprehensible and efficiently understood.

GIS and Geography
Representing Geography and Data Modelling
Geographic Analysis
Cartographic Design and Map Projections
Data capture and data quality

The lectures are complimented by a series of computer based practicals and surgery sessions in which a series of 'hands on' tutorials will enable students to gain first hand practical knowledge of how to use a GIS system. That knowledge is then used to complete a project in the form of a project design document, and a degree assessed GIS project.
Practical 1 ArcGIS: an introduction to frames, layers, colours and symbols
Practical 2 Data acquisition, editing and management
Practical 3 Spatial analysis using raster datasets
Practical 4 Spatial analysis with vector data
Practical 5 Cartographic Design and Map projections

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  27
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 12, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 74 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Computer-based GIS project 50%
Exam 50% (one hour; answer one essay question from a choice of four)
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Principles of Geographical Information Science (Block1)1:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the components and range of methods which make up a geographical information systems and understand the importance of data modelling in the storage of geographical data within database systems.
  2. Learn how spatial data are acquired and appreciate the functionality of ArcGIS software, including basic expertise in analysis, classification, query, and integration of vector and raster data and visualisation.
  3. Apply appropriate cartographic principles in the construction of maps and visualisation of geographic information.
  4. Develop an integrated practical project, drawing on appropriate source data, providing sensible analysis, output and drawing appropriate conclusions.
Reading List
Class Text
Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. and Carver, S. (2011) An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems. Prentice Hall, Fourth Edition.

Introductory Reading Material
Schmandt, M. GIS Commons: An introductory textbook on Geographic Information Systems
free web enabled resource:

Bolstad, P. Chapter 1: An introduction to GIS, GIS Fundamentals 4th Edition

Practical supporting material
ESRI training for ArcGIS users
Free web enabled tutorials

Textbooks complimentary to class text
de Smith, M Goodchild M F Longley P A 2015 Geospatial Analysis A Comprehensive Guide to Principles Techniques and Software tools. Third edition
free web enabled resource:

Burrough P A, McDonnell R A & Lloyd C.D. (2015) Principles of Geographical Information Systems for Land Resources Assessment. Oxford: Clarendon. Third Edition.

Longley P A, Goodchild M F, Maguire D J and Rhind D W (eds) (2010) Geographical Information Systems and Science. Chichester: Wiley. 3rd Edition.

Stillwell, J., Clarke, G. 2003 Applied GIS and Spatial Analysis (edited volume) John Wiley

Longley, P.A., Batty, M. 2003 Advanced Spatial Analysis: The CASA Book of GIS

International Journal of Geographical Information Science,
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (CEUS),
Transactions in GIS,
Cartography and GIS

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 hour(s) per week for 5 week(s).
KeywordsPGGE11067 GIS,ArcGIS,ArcMap,vector,raster
Course organiserDr William Mackaness
Tel: (0131 6)50 8163
Course secretaryMr Edwin Cruden
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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