Postgraduate taught 

Geospatial & Mapping Sciences MSc/PgDip/PgCert

GNSS & Geodesy GEOG5012

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), with a strong focus on GPS and hands-on practical experience of collecting and processing data. It also covers reference systems and gives an overview of other satellite geodesy techniques.


Normally Thursdays in first 1/2 of semester 2


Normally Principles and Practice of Land Surveying (GEOG5017) and Fundamentals of Geomatics -Combined (GEOG5008)


Coursework - including reports (35%) and presentation plus updated factsheet (5%)- 40%; Examination 60%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


The 5% for presentation and factsheet update cannot be reassessed, nor can the practical report/write-up (20%).

Course Aims

■ To revisit geoid, ellipsoid and terrestrial reference systems

■ To introduce time systems, satellite orbital motion and radio signal propagation

■ To describe modern GPS/GNSS techniques

■ To provide opportunities to gain practical experience in GPS data processing

■ To explain baseline adjustment, datum transformations and height determination

■ To allow the students to investigate potential applications of GNSS

■ To introduce other Space Geodesy techniques, especially those that contribute to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF)

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

On completing this unit students will be able to:

■ Describe how GNSS works (including time, orbits, signals, etc)

■ Give an overview of space geodesy capabilities and how they contribute to the ITRF

■ Describe the mathematical models for pseudo-range and carrier phase-based modes of positioning

■ Explain the mathematical models for both single receiver (absolute) positioning and relative positioning

■ Describe and assess GNSS error sources and biases, e.g. atmospheric delays and multipath

■ Select an appropriate working mode for a particular application

■ Discuss current status and future trends of GNSS

■ Process GNSS data using appropriate software and critically analyse the results

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

 Attendance at all practical sessions