Principles of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing - DICE8490

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


The overall aim of this module is to provide an applied introduction to the use of GIS and remote sensing in biodiversity conservation and management and more broadly in environmental sciences. This module will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of GIS and remote sensing as well as an introduction to a range of methods for collection, management and interpretation of spatial data. Particular attention is paid to the development of students' analysis skills of to deal with spatial data using GIS.
GIS are increasingly being used in biodiversity conservation and environmental sciences in general to help solve a wide range of "real world" environmental and associated social problems. As the current trend in ecological and environmental studies moves towards the acquisition manipulation and analysis of large datasets with explicit geographic reference, employers often report shortages of relevant GIS skills to handle spatial data. Thus, this module will introduce the use of GIS as a means of solving spatial problems and the potential of GIS and remote sensing techniques for biodiversity and environmental studies providing the student with marketable skills relevant to research and commercial needs.
Indicative topics:
• Principles of cartography, coordinate systems and projections
• Introduction to the fundamental principles of GIS;
• Introduction to remote sensing
• Data sources and methods of data acquisition
• Types of spatial data, working with raster and vector data
• Mapping (how to create and transform maps),
• Elementary database management
• ArcGIS -overview of ArcGIS, ArcMap, ArcCatalog; ArcToolbox, Spatial Analyst.
• GIS operations (Calculating area, Intersection of polygons etc)
• manipulation, spatial data query and analysis of a wide range of environmental and socio-economic information relevant to biodiversity
conservation and environmental sciences
• Spatial analysis in GIS
• Introduction to the application of GIS in systematic conservation planning.
These topics will be taught using a combination of lectures and practicals. The practical classes will provide hands-on experience using ArcGIS which is the most widely used GIS system. Students will be able to use knowledge and skills acquired in this module in practical project work.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 20

Private Study hours: 130

Total hours: 150


MSc in Conservation Science and Management;
MSc Ethnobotany,
MA Social Anthropology: Humanitarian and Environmental Crises

Method of assessment

Group project (20%)
Individual report (80%)

Indicative reading

Bernhardsen, T. (2002) Geographic Information Systems: an Introduction, 3rd ed. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Burrough, P. A. and McDonnell, R. A. (2015) Principles of Geographical Information Systems, 3rd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Campbell, J. B. (2011) Introduction to Remote Sensing, 5th edition. Guilford Press, New York
Chang, K.T. (2019) Introduction to Geographic Information Systems. 9th edition. McGraw-Hill, New York
Gorr, W.L. & Kurland, K.S. (2020). GIS Tutorial for ArcGIS Pro 2.6 (GIS Tutorials). 3rd edition. ESRI Press
Heywood, I., Cornelius, S., and Carver, S. (2011). An introduction to Geographical Information Systems. 4th edition. Pearson, Harlow.
Jensen, J.R. & Jensen, R.R. (2012). Introductory geographic information systems. Upper Saddle River, Pearson Education
Law, M. & Collins, A. (2019). Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro, 2nd edition. Publisher: ESRI Press
Lillesand, T. M. , Kiefer R. W. and Chipman J. W. (2015) Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation, 7th edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Longley, P. (2015). Geographical Information science & systems. 4th edition. New York, Wiley.
Shekhar, S., Xiong, H., Zhou, X. (2015). Encyclopaedia of GIS. Imprint: Springer (e-book)
Tripp Corbin GISP (2020). Learning ArcGIS Pro, 2nd edition. Publisher Packt
Webster R. and Oliver M. (2007) Geostatistics for environmental scientists. 2nd edition Chichester, Wiley. E-book

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students should:
1. have a systematic understanding of knowledge of the principles of GIS and a clear understanding of the application of GIS for biodiversity conservation and environmental studies using real world examples
2. be able to acquire, combine and manipulate data from multiple sources in a GIS in order to deal and solve practical problems in biodiversity conservation and environmental science
3. have a comprehensive understanding of the principals underlying the analysis of spatial data and remote sensing data and be able to produce appropriate maps of environmental data
4. have acquired practical technical skills on GIS analytical techniques
5. be able to generate and critically evaluate GIS and remote sensing outcomes and write reports on GIS mapping and analysis


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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