Postgraduate taught 

Geospatial & Mapping Sciences MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Principles of GIS GEOG5019

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

An introduction to the principles and practice of Geographic Information Systems.


Generally, all classes are on one day of the week during the second half of Semester 1, normally Mondays. If numbers are large an additional  practical session may be run on a different day.

Excluded Courses

GEOG4062 Geographical Information Systems

GEOG4111 GIS A: Applied Spatial Analysis

GEOG5084 Principles of GIS (Intensive)


Continuous assessment consisting of a GIS practical task and associated  report (40%); a 1½ hour examination (60%)

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The course's combination of lectures and practicals will give participants the knowledge of the analytical and databasing concepts which will contribute to the specification of the design of a GIS, its implementation and appropriate use; and to develop an awareness of graphical methods of exploring and representing geospatial information in a typical GIS environment.

Teaching aims:

■ To describe the principles of geographic information systems (GIS)

■ To explain vector data structures and concepts, including point, line and polygon entities, attributes and topology

■ To explain raster data structures and concepts

■ To introduce several well-known GIS analytical tools

■ To introduce several applications of GIS

■ To explain how to design an efficient geospatial database

■ To build confidence in the use of one particular GIS package - ArcGIS

■ To encourage the use of help files and relevant web pages, etc., to develop the initiative and creativity which contribute to the transferable skill of problem solving in information technology.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

Having completed this course, students will be able to:

■ Explain the principles of GIS as a combination of geospatial data input, processing, output and personnel subsystems;

■ explain the requirements for co-ordinate reference systems in GIS and apply them within a GIS;

■ describe and critically assess the use of vector and raster representations of real world objects and how to convert between them;

■ describe and critically assess the use of analytical tools within GIS including overlay, buffer, network, and terrain analysis and how they are applied in the ArcGIS (or equivalent) environment;

■ explain the nature of geospatial databases and discuss their design and implementation;

■ solve application problems in GIS, including access to on-line help files;

■ produce effective maps and reports based on output of GIS processes;

■ apply acquired GIS skills to a range of applications.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

  Attendance at all practical sessions