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

Postgraduate Course: Principles of GIS for Archaeologists (PGGE11181)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryA course compulsory for those undertaking the MSc in GIS and Archaeology.

It is intended for those with little or no exposure to GIS who wish to 1) understand the essentials of GIS and 2) how it can be applied to archaeological studies.

First five weeks is the same set of lectures given in PGGE11067 covering data modelling, data capture, analysis and visualisation. The following 5 weeks will look at case studies and practicals specifically exploring the application of GIS in archaeological context.
Course description A series of primers covering principles of GIS
1. data modelling and representing geography
2. basic cartography and map projections
3. data capture and georeferencing
4. spatial analysis techniques
5. digital elevation models and surface modelling

A series of case studies and associated practicals covering:
6) Viewshed analysis and intervisibilty
7) Use of field collected data: imputing GPS points and use of old site plans and maps
8) Data vizualisation based on CANMORE data
9) Costpath analysis; drove roads, Roman roads
10) Tutorial/Seminar on theoretical perspectives of the use of GIS in Archaeology (or Historic landscape Characterisation)

The role of computer based modelling and visualisation in archaeological study (recording, analysis and visualisation).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Placement Study Abroad Hours 20, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)1:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand 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 the database.
  2. Understand how spatial data are acquired 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 develop an integrated practical project, drawing on appropriate source data, providing sensible analysis, output and drawing appropriate conclusions.
  4. Understand the utility of GIS in the context of archaeological study including impact of viewshed analysis upon habitation patterns; digital elevation modelling and farming practice, land use modelling and cost path analysis.
Reading List
Allen, K.M., Green, S.W. and Zubrow, E.B.W. (1990) Interpreting Space: GIS and Archaeology (Applications of Geographic Information Systems). Taylor & Francis Ltd. 412 pp.

Chapman, H (2006) Landscape Archaeology and GIS. The History Press Ltd 240pp.

Conolly, J. and Lake, M. (2006) Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology (Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology). Cambridge University Press. 358pp.

Dyson-Bruce, L. (2003) Historic Landscape Assessment: The East of England Experience Paper Product to GIS Delivery. Journal of GIS in Archaeology, 1, Apr 2003. Online at:

Heywood I, Cornelius S, Carver S 2011 An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems 4th Edition.

Johnson, I and Andres Wilson, A. (2003) The TimeMap Project: Developing Time-Based GIS Display for Cultural Data. Journal of GIS in Archaeology, 1, Apr 2003. Online at:

Llobera, M. (2001). Building past landscape perception with GIS: Understanding topographic prominence. Journal of Archaeological Science 28 (9): 1005¿1014.

Llobera, M. (2003). Extending GIS-based visual analysis: The concept of visualscapes. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 17: 25¿48.

Lock, G.R. and Stancic, G. (1995) Archaeology and Geographic Information Systems: A European Perspective. CRC Press. 319pp.

Lock, G. (2000) Beyond the Map: Archaeology and Spatial Technologies. IOS Press, Ohmsha. NATO Science Series. Series A: Life Sciences. Vol. 321.

Lock, G. R., and Brown, K. (2000). On the Theory and Practice of Archaeological Computing, Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, Oxford.

McCoy, M. and Ladefoged T. N. ¿New Developments in the Use of Spatial Technology in Archaeology¿, Journal of Archaeological Research (2009) 17:263¿295.

Mehrer, M.W. and Wescott, K.L. (2005) GIS and Archaeological Site Location Modelling. CRC Press. 496pp.

Parcak, S.H. (2009) Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology, Routledge, 320pp.
Lock, G. (2003) Using Computers in Archaeology. Routledge 320pp.

Wheatley, D., and Gillings, M. (2002). Spatial Technology and Archaeology: The Archaeological Applications of GIS, Taylor and Francis, London.

Wiseman, J.R. and Farouk El-Baz, F. (Eds) (2006) Remote Sensing in Archaeology (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology). Springer.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Project work, problem solving, communication of ideas, research design.
KeywordsPGGE11181 GIS,Computer modelling,archaeology
Course organiserDr William Mackaness
Tel: (0131 6)50 8163
Course secretaryMr Edwin Cruden
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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