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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Principles of Geographical Information Science (GEGR10039)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an essential background for students with limited knowledge of Geographic Information Science and as a foundation for other courses. More broadly, the course seeks to develop students transferable skills, to develop practical techniques in geographical information science, and to provide training in critical analysis and in written presentation combining results from quantitative analysis.

Course description 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. Various case studies are used to highlight various types of analysis typically performed using GIS. Basic elements of graphic design and communication are reviewed to ensure that output from GIS is comprehensible and effective. The module concludes by addressing the wider social and economic factors that influence the success or failure of GIS in an institution. The lectures are complimented by a series of computer based practicals in which a series of hands on exercises enable students to gain first hand practical knowledge of how to use a GIS. That knowledge is then used to complete a degree assessed GIS project. No prior knowledge of GIS is expected or required for this course
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 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Class assessment:
Non Assessed Essay 1500 words, Set week 1.
Non Assessed Design Document, Set in Week 2, discussed in tutorials in Wk3.

Degree assessment:
One computer-based GIS project (2000 words) 40% set week 2
One two-hour examination (2 questions) 60%

Overall mark for the course (ie degree coursework and examinations) of at least 40 to pass
Feedback An essay is set early in the course as a means of providing formative feedback on the comprehension of ideas. This non assessed essay encourages students to learn about GIS through discussion of case studies.

The course organiser is available via email, Office hours are normally 10-12am Tuesday.

TopHat interactive question answering will be used to gauge student comprehension during the lecture

Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the components and a range of the methods which make up geographical information systems and the field of geographical information science
  2. display knowledge of the multifarious data sources commonly used in GIS, and critically understand the importance of data modelling in the storage of such data
  3. appreciate the functionality of the ArcGIS software, including basic expertise in anlysis, classification, query and integration of vector and raster data and its visualisation
  4. apply appropriate cartographic principles in the construction of maps (including an appreciation of map projections)
  5. develop an integrated practical project, drawing on appropriate source data, providing meaningful analysis, effective visualisation of output and drawing appropriate conclusions which demonstrate professional level insight
Reading List
Class Text
1. Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. and Carver, S. (2011) An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems. Prentice Hall, Fourth Edition.

A supplementary start point for the course
2. Schmandt, M. GIS Commons: An introductory textbook on Geographic Information Systems
3. free web enabled resource:

Textbooks complimentary to class text
1. 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:
2. Burrough P A, McDonnell R A & Lloyd C.D. (2015) Principles of Geographical Information Systems for Land Resources Assessment. Oxford: Clarendon. Third Edition.
3. Longley P A, Goodchild M F, Maguire D J and Rhind D W (eds) (2010) Geographical Information Systems and Science. Chichester: Wiley. 3rd Edition.
4. Stillwell, J., Clarke, G. 2003 Applied GIS and Spatial Analysis (edited volume) John Wiley
5. Longley, P.A., Batty, M. 2003 Advanced Spatial Analysis: The CASA Book of GIS

2. International Journal of Geographical Information Science,
3. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (CEUS),
5. Transactions in GIS,
6. Cartography and GIS
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Neil Stuart
Tel: (0131 6)50 2549
Course secretaryMiss Carry Arnold
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
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