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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 student┐s 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 through the use of both vector and raster modelling. 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. For Undergraduates taking the course, there is a field trip to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. There is a set of tutorials associated with the course to support various learning outcomes. Collectively these activities are then used to complete a degree assessed GIS project. Exams are undertaken in December. 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
Not being delivered
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 analysis, classification, query and integration of vector and raster data and its visualisation
  4. apply appropriate cartographic principles in the construction of maps
  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 William MacKaness
Tel: (0131 6)50 8163
Course secretaryMiss Carry Arnold
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
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