University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Understanding GIS Technology (PGGE11105)

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
SummaryUnderstanding GIS technology is a course which examines the components of the technology which underlies GIS, with the intention of giving students a deeper understanding of the hardware, software and the interactions between these. Drawing on a range of open-source and commercial examples, current and potential future systems, this course teaches some of the principles necessary for the specification and installation of a GIS in the real world and engenders a questioning approach to vendor's claims. The course begins by explaining how computer systems work. It goes on to examine data automation and printing technologies, reviews the performance characteristics of computer systems, including techniques such as parallel processing, compares and contrasts different architectures (eg. UNIX vs Microsoft; open systems vs. proprietary) and GIS package solutions together with discussion of usability and user interfaces. This course is builds on the Distributed GIS core course which concentrates the Internet, web-based and mobile GIS.

Course description - The Computing Environment for GIS
Demonstration: Building a Server
Project Preparation
- The Technology of GIS Input and Output Technologies (Project)
Practical: Data Input
- Comparing and Contrasting: Proprietary vs. Open Source (Project Review)
Practical: Quantum GIS
- Linking and Customising Systems
Practical: ArcInfo/ArcGIS Customisation
- The Importance and Design of User Interfaces
Practical: gvSIG and Database connections from Quantum GIS.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Distributed GIS (PGGE11084)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
understand the software components of a typical geographical information system
appreciate the historical development of such systems
understand the data model underlying the Arc/Info GIS and its development, together with the implications of legacy models on current implementations
be able to demonstrate the use of Arc/Info for the automation and management of data
critically review the available technologies, assessing their merits and shortcomings
predict future developments and understand the implications of standardisation efforts
appreciate the concept of a computer system and understand its performance and different approaches to interfacing it to the user and to other computers
understand concept of a corporate system
appreciate the importance and role of the computer operating system
understand how software systems can be customised and linked
locate, read and summarise relevant literature, from both traditional and electronic media, to extend your understanding of the topic
develop reasoned arguments, firmly grounded in the available literature
plan and write assignments, within the specified parameters and to a professional standard
take responsibility for your own learning through reading and the preparation of assignments, and reflect upon your learning experience.
Reading List
-Batcheller, J.K., Gittings, B.M. and Dowers, S. (2006) The Performance of Vector Oriented Data Storage Strategies in ESRI's ArcGIS, Transactions in GIS 11(1) p.1-47
-Coleman, D. and Zwart, P. R. (1992) Modelling usage and telecommunications performance in real-time spatial information networks. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling, Charleston, South Carolina, pp. 144-153.
-DeMers, M. N. (2000) Fundamentals of Georgraphic Information Systems. John Wiley and Sons, New York. Second edition.
-Deitel, H. M. (2004) An Introduction to Operating Systems. Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, 3rd edition.
-Dowd, K. (1993) High Performance Computing. O'Reilly & Associates, Sebastopol, California.
-ESRI (2001) What is ArcGIS? ESRI, Redlands, California.
-Gittings, B. M.(ed.) (1999) Integrating Information Infrastuctures with GI Technology, Taylor and Francis, London.
-Gittings, B. M., Sloan, T. M., Healey, R. G., Dowers, S. and Waugh, T. C. (1993) Meeting expectations: A review of GIS performance issues. In Mather, P. M. (Ed.) Geographical Information Handling - Research and Applications, Chapter 6. Wiley, Chichester.
-Gittings, B.M. (2009) Reflections on Forty Years of Geographical Information in Scotland: 'Standardisation, Integration and Representation', Scottish Geographical Journal 125(1) p.8-94
-Goodchild, M.F. (2010). Twenty years of progress: GIScience in 2010. Journal of Spatial Information Science No. 1
-Harvey, F.J. (2008) A primer of GIS: fundamental geographic and cartographic concepts. The Guildford Press, New York.
-Healey, R., Dowers, S., Gittings, B. and Mineter, M. (Eds.) (1998) Parallel Processing Algorithms for GIS. Taylor & Francis, London.
-Huxhold, W.E. and A.G. Levinsohn (1995) Managing Geographic Information System Projects, Oxford University Press, New York.
-Jackson, M. J. and Woodsford, P. A. (1991) GIS data capture hardware and software. In Maguire, D. J., Goodchild, M. F. and Rhind, D. W. (Eds.) Geographical Information Systems: Principles and Applications. Longman, Harlow.
-Korte, G.B. (2001) The GIS Book. The OnWord Press, New York, 5th edition.
-Longley, P. A., Goodchild, M., Maguire, D. and Rhind, D. W. (1999) Geographical Information Systems, Wiley, New York. [ chapters on GIS architectures ]
-Martin, J. (1973) Designing Man-Computer Dialogues. Wiley, New York. [ old but a classic text which sets out the principles from which everything else follows ]
-Medyckyj-Scott, D. and Hearnshaw, H. M. (1993) Human factors in geographical information systems. Belhaven Press, London.
-Mineter, M. J., Dowers, S. and Gittings, B. M. (2000) Towards a HPC Framework for Integrated Processing of Geographical Data: Encapsulating the Complexity of Parallel Algorithms, Transactions in GIS 4(3) pp.245-262.
-Morehouse, S. (1989) The architecture of ARC/INFO. Auto Carto 9 Proceedings, Baltimore, Maryland, pp. 266-277.
-Poslad, S (2009) Ubiquitous Computing: Smart Devices, Environments and Interactions. Wiley-Blackwell.
-Sloan, T.M., Gittings, B.M. and Healey, R.G. (1997) Using performance analysis to identify candidate operations for GIS software parallelization, Transactions in GIS 2(4) pp.347-360
-Wagner, D. F. (1992) Synthetic test design for systematic evaluation of GIS performance. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling, Charleston, South Carolina, pp. 166-177.
-The Open Source Geospatial Foundation:
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserMr Bruce Gittings
Tel: (0131 6)50 2558
Course secretaryMiss Susan Orr
Tel: (0131 6)50 6068
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:34 am